Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Suum cuique

368 words

More fun with German businesses earlier this year: There’s this antique slogan Suum cuique - to each his own - which is kind of clever but has been tainted in Germany since the Nazis adopted it for decorating for the gates of a concentration camp. Hence, it’s not wise to use the expression around here these days. Both because doing so will make you look like an idiot and because there will always be people at hand who are keen to point out that you are.

Apparently a variation of that slogan was used for an advertising campaign. And quite reliably people started complaining and even more reliably the companies involved backed off.

It should be clear that I have extremely low opinions of business and advertising people. And even though I expect them to be dumb and superficial, I also expect them to be major control freaks who need to cover their asses before doing anything more complex than breathing. As a consequence it totally surprises me that such an ad campaign can even happen. Dozens - if not hundreds - of people must have seen the campaign before it was published. And I’m sure that even if a single intern among them had said ‘bad Nazi associations; will upset people’, their uneducated overlords would at least have gone to Wikipedia to make sure they aren’t in for embarrassment. But somehow that didn’t happen and they went ahead.

Which, I guess, could be great for me because it confirms my negative stereotypes; but which I also find a bit shocking.

So I only see the cynical way out: Assuming for a change that at least one person in the advertising team doing this didn’t sleep all their way through middle and high school but was well aware of the historical context and the associations such a slogan would trigger; And they consciously used to it to create a mock public ‘debate’ in this context which would be free advertising in itself by the ‘any news is good advertising’ theory.

And one would have to admire that. It’d be sneaky and creepy but a job well done… and that’s the bottom line which counts if I’m not mistaken.

April 15, 2009, 22:09

Tagged as advertising.

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