Who knew these were the reasons to visit the scenic Black Forest.
MUNICH — The claims are true, at least. Germany's Black Forest does indeed have tall mountains, moist valleys prone to fog, and plenty of trees. So the tourism association known as "Ferienland Schwarzwald" (Vacationland Black Forest) isn't promising too much when it states the facts in promotion campaigns.
But you know there's more to it when Martin Sonneborn, a German satirist and member of the European Parliament, reacts to a Black Forest ad in the Ryanair in-flight magazine by commenting on a social network, "Black Forest? Hot place!")
That breathless appreciation was a reaction to the tourism association's new campaign to promote the Black Forest communities of Schonach, Schönwald, Furtwangen, Sankt Georgen and Unterkirnach in southwestern Germany.
On the poster, next to the words "Big Mountains, Moist Valleys and Forest Aplenty" is the stylized outline of a naked woman wearing a Bollenhut — a traditional Black Forest ladies' hat with two pom-poms on top. The viewer is apparently also meant to register the placement of the words "Ferienland Schwarzwald" — between the lady’s legs.
Such a heavy dose of double entendre is so blatant it hasn't escaped the attention of Schwarzwalders themselves. "The ad doesn't fit in with our style," Südkurier newspaper quoted the head of Unterkirnach local government as saying. He added that the sort of people who vacation in the Black Forest have high standards and wouldn't appreciate the ad.
Meanwhile, Sonneborn's Facebook page was inundated with outraged commenters. One person opined that the ad was sexist and primitive. The "Ferienland Schwarzwald" association responded by saying provocation and advertising go together, and anyway, the poster was designed by a woman.
Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any better, aesthetically pleasing or imaginative. Then again, this is an area where local T-shirts also feature the hat-wearing lady in garters. And the unofficial hymn of the region refers to the Black Forest's "beautiful girls." The song dates back to the 19th century. The Schwarzwald doesn't seem to have advanced much since.