Saturday, November 17, 2007
An advert depicting a tattooed skinhead urinating into a china teacup is being used to promote tourism to London.
The image is part of a new Eurostar campaign aimed solely at the Belgian market.
Posters have gone up on billboards in Antwerp, Brussels, Liege and Ghent to promote the new high-speed train connection to the English capital.
The company says the advert is great for British tourism.
"It's fun, it's supposed to show how cosmopolitan London is. Yes, I really think it says London is cosmopolitan," insisted a spokeswoman for Eurostar.
Lesley Retallack added: "You could walk down Camden market and you can see someone like that.
"It just captures your imagination, stops you, makes you think. People get it."
The campaign, created by a Belgian ad agency, also features John Cleese and his Ministry of Silly Walks along with Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and John Major apparently bursting Union Flag balloons.
Miss Retallack explained: "The whole idea is that London is just around the corner. Belgians absolutely love the British and follow them closely.
"The adverts are meant to show how cutting edge London is, the amazing mix.
"It's all meant to be very humourous, very funny and to get across the message that London is just around the corner."
She went on: "We wouldn't do something if it meant people were put off coming to London and they have been enormously effective."
Since the posters went up on November 14 only one member of the public has complained, said Ms Retallack.
Elliott Frisby of the British Tourist Authority, told Sky News: "Belgians think of themselves as closer to us than to France. They expect us to be quirky."
He said the adverts work well in Belgium and believes they are advertising Eurostar rather than Britain itself.
"We do not think the images are derogatory or give off the wrong message about the destination," he said.
"It is not what we would do but Eurostar is a commercial organisation."
The adverts have already prompted some Sky News Online viewers to react angrily.
Stressing that the campaign was intended to promote only London, Ms Retallack said: "Obviously a few British people may see it in the papers now but it's meant to appeal to the Belgian people."
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