Mike Leidig
Phone: ++43-1-81140-319
Thu, 23.01.2003
pte20030123045 Politics/Law, Media/Communications
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The Simpsons help promote Czechs' entry into the EU
Campaign worth almost seven million dollars

Praha (pte045/23.01.2003/11:03) - The Czech Republic is scheduled to enter the EU next year (2004) together with nine other countries and by law it still needs to stage a referendum on the matter, due to take place June 15 and 16. Current opinion polls show a strong vote in favour of membership, but nevertheless the government wants to make sure that the population is well informed of all the issues before voting, and stressed that the promotion will present both sides of the coin.

In line with this a number of government ministries have announced plans to break away from traditional campaigning methods that have a "one ad for all" approach to get their individual messages across, with The Simpsons named to head a celebrity cast. The cartoon family, although not Czech, are well-known in the Czech Republic and were selected because they "cross borders" in their appeal to the public, said Hugo Roldan from the Czech Agriculture ministry.

He said: "The Simpsons can get people's attention and can get the message across more effectively than lengthy brochures." He added that details of what the US family would be telling people were not yet finalised, and said: "We still have not awarded the final contract, but I can confirm several well-known agencies are on the final short list."

The Agricultural Ministry however has said it plans to distribute T-shirts, postcards and other such memorabilia featuring the well-loved American cartoon family to the country's teenage citizens at shopping centres, cafes and discos. Another spokesman for the ministry, Pavel Kolar, said that as well as using popular foreign cartoons like The Simpsons, they also wanted to use figures from their own culture. He said: "We want to use animations typical of the Czech Republic as well, such as the Little Mole."

The Little Mole is the eastern European country's answer to Mickey Mouse, created by well-known Czech author Zdenek Miller. Kolar said the aim of the campaign was to familiarise "ordinary people" from the country's smaller towns and villages with the EU, and said he believed the best way to do that was through humour. "This is why The Simpsons characters have been chosen among others. It is a cartoon everyone can relate to," said Kolar.

Elderly citizens will also receive information on the EU, and what the Czech Republic's entry into it will mean for them, through personal letters written by the various ministries. Even the very young have not been left out of the equation. The Agricultural Ministry is currently producing a range of soft toys which will sport various EU-friendly logos such as "safe food" or "EU product" on them.

Submitter: pressetext.austria
Contact: Mike Leidig
Phone: ++43-1-81140-319