The World: Insider's View - Germany

An ad campaign called "Du bist Deutschland" is exhorting Germans to take control of their destinies, Gruner & Jahr's chief, Dr Bernd Kundrun, writes.

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can do for yourself - and for your country." This adaptation of John F Kennedy's famous challenge is a hot topic throughout Germany. The debate is rife in newspapers and magazines, on TV and radio stations, in all levels of society. "Du bist Deutschland" (You are Germany) is a unique campaign, supported by more than 25 of the country's most influential media owners, including Gruner & Jahr, who are backing the project with more than EUR30 million worth of space and airtime. The objective? To shake Germans out of their torpor, awakening in them a new pioneering spirit.

The need to confront the problems of the weak economy and engage in far-reaching reforms is accepted but unsettling. Nearly 70 per cent of Germans believe that success does not lie in their own hands, that they are victims of circumstance.

In the US and Canada, fewer than a third of the people holds similar views.

Senior figures in industry, commerce and the communications sector have long recognised the downbeat atmosphere here. The German people appear to have lost faith in their own abilities and their future.

We intend to break that cycle and start a drive for more self-motivation and more self-confidence. "Du bist Deutschland" is the spark that will ignite a bushfire of optimism and self-reliance.

It's reassuring to see how quickly the campaign has achieved public recognition. Launched two weeks ago, the response has already gone way beyond our expectations. We welcome the increasing numbers of media owners and businesses wanting to participate.

The creative content of the campaign was developed by the Hamburg-based agencies Jung von Matt and kempertrautmann. They, and a raft of other agencies, production teams and suppliers, provided their expertise and services for free.

The campaign kicked off with a degree of co-ordination never before witnessed: just before 8.00pm on 27 September, a two-minute commercial was transmitted simultaneously on the state channels ARD and ZDF, and on all the major independents. The ad features 40 celebrities and citizens giving testimonials direct to camera. The campaign also broke simultaneously in countless magazines and newspapers, on posters and online, including www.du-bist-deutschland.de.

This activity is an encouraging sign for the reinvigoration of Germany.

Our friends and partners in the media companies are convinced that, together, the German people can make a difference and exert a positive influence on their own and their joint futures. We know it's possible and we look forward to the challenge.

- Dr Bernd Kundrun is the chairman and chief executive of Gruner & Jahr AG & Co.

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