Saucy Plumber Seduces French
Poland could have taken offence when French critics of the proposed European constitution, fearing a flood of migrant workers from eastern Europe, made the "Polish plumber" their public enemy number one.
Instead, the Polish tourism authority has turned the cliche on its head, making a sexy plumber the centrepiece of a campaign to lure French tourists to the country.
"I'm staying in Poland. Come, one and all," reads the caption on a promotional poster featuring 21-year-old "plumber" Piotr Adamski, who grips tools and pipes while gazing alluringly at the camera.
French opponents of the EU charter made the Polish plumber a symbol of low-wage workers from eastern and central Europe who they said would soon flood the job market and take work from French plumbers.
The unemployment rate in France already stands at over 10 percent and opinion polls show that high unemployment is the biggest concern among French voters.
It was Andrzej Kozlowski, head of the Polish Tourist Organisation, who had the brainwave of turning the "Polish plumber" into a positive symbol.
"One evening, on my way home, I heard this story of the Polish plumber in France on the radio and I started thinking that this stereotype could be turned into something positive," he said. "What has happened in the last few days goes beyond all our expectations," he added.
Adamski visited Paris on Tuesday to promote the campaign.
"I hope this is just the beginning of my international career, which I am ready to pursue," he told a news conference, referring to his career as a model.
As for plumbing, his real-life experiences are limited to odd jobs in his kitchen and bathroom.
Pierre Lequiller, a member of the French parliament, welcomed the advertising campaign as an unusual way to promote Poland in response to an "aggressive electoral campaign against Poland".
Lequiller said the "No" campaign against the EU constitution, which French voters rejected on May 29, was xenophobic and anti-Polish. He said the "Polish plumber" campaign was "funny and serious at the same time".