Dozing Czech diplomat unwitting star in ad campaign

13th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

The foreign minister says it is healthy to fall asleep when bored by overly long speeches.

Prague -- Billboards picturing the Czech foreign minister dozing off during a presidential vote have caused a controversy about advertising standards, but left one person unruffled -- the minister himself.

"Survive longer," says an energy drink maker's slogan alongside the image of a slumbering Karel Schwarzenberg.

Schwarzenberg, 70, a respected political figure, says he prefers to doze off during endless speeches, be it at European Union summits or in the Czech parliament.

One such occasion came during a raucous debate before lawmakers during the country's two-candidate presidential election in February, marked by verbal attacks that were widely seen as a new low in Czech politics.

"I honorably fell asleep during both (speeches)," Schwarzenberg told reporters.

The billboards irked the Czech Advertising Standards Council, a trade group, which said the nationwide campaign breached its non- binding ethical code that bars the use of public figures in commercials. The council asked the drink's producer to remove it.

The drinks company does not plan to take the billboards down, but will alter them in the next few days, co-director Marek Sadil said. He declined to give details.

Schwarzenberg, who is recovering in Germany from unspecified heart-related surgery, told the Pravo daily that he has other worries. But he said he is entertaining the hospital's staff with the ad controversy.

"Let people have fun," he told Pravo.

DPA with Expatica

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