New role for pop legend Karel Gott - endorsing foodstuffs

Karel Gott

At 67 Karel Gott remains the country's biggest pop star. In a long and very successful career he has sold tens of millions of albums in the Czech Republic, Germany and elsewhere. Now, however, the singer has entered a whole new field - endorsing supermarket products.

The cold foods section of a suburban supermarket is perhaps the last place you'd expect to find Karel Gott. But that's exactly where the showbiz legend was on Wednesday, at a news conference announcing a line of Czech-made foods produced by the down-market Plus Discount chain. It's called Karluv Dvur, or the Court of Karel - Charles. Karel Gott said he had been honoured to be invited to be "godfather" at the launch.

"As a gourmand I was glad to accept. Even though I've travelled the world and always enjoy trying local foods - and I'm not of those Czechs who only eat what they know - I have to say I always realise when I return that our Czech traditional specialities are really very good."

Andre Rinnensland is the head of the German-owned Plus Discount chain in the Czech Republic. I asked him why they had chosen Karel Gott to endorse their products.

"We decided who could better represent our new brand Karluv Dvur than Karel Gott, because he represents something very typical Czech, very traditional. He's very, very well known in the Czech Republic - and not only the Czech Republic. So that's how we came up with the idea of choosing Karel Gott, and luckily he said yes."

Plus Discount is a German company, and you yourself are German. Was there any connection between his popularity in Germany and the fact that you chose him for this campaign?

"It's right that I'm German, but we consider ourselves as an international company. So actually no, it didn't have anything to do with his German popularity, it was just focused on his Czech personality."

Were you yourself aware of Karel Gott before you came to the Czech Republic?

"I was aware of him, but to be honest I was surprised that he is so famous, so well known, and that everybody absolutely adores him. I was really surprised by that."

One thing the singer's fans look forward to every year is his Vanocni turne or Christmas tour, which always takes place some time before Christmas - indeed this year's tour kicks off next Wednesday. A true pro, Karel Gott managed to plug the tour while staying on-message at the foodstuffs launch.

"I always say during my concerts that Christmas is just around the corner. It isn't now, but soon you will start seeing decorations and that 'Santa'...Santa will turn our Czech Christmas into an international Christmas. But I like the traditional Czech Christmas, with Jezisek - Baby Jesus and the films we see every year, the fairytales. And our Czech specialties belong to all that."