CAMPAIGN REPORT ON GERMANY: Crash or burn - Germany builds quality cars - so its car ads have a lot to live up to. Here creative directors recall the best, as well as ones they would rather forget

In due course, the Sixt office in Fulda had to close down as it was bombarded by hate mail and abusive telephone calls. There were clearly no more potential Sixt customers in Fulda.

So what about the rest of the Germans? They loved it and had a good laugh about Fulda's new image of. The story generated masses of press coverage in almost every newspaper and television station and, in the end, it turned out to be one of the most talked about - and best - ads of its time.

VERONIKA CLASSEN - Freelance creative (formerly creative director of D'Arcy Worldwide Germany)

2001 was the year of the car in Germany. No surprises there, you might think, given Germany's reputation for building great machinery. But 2001 also turned out to be the year of the car from an advertising point of view.

Recent car ads have broken with a long German tradition of being famous for detail-obsessed technicians and have started to communicate humourously.

It all started with Elvis for Audi. No more shaking pelvis because of the Audi Anti-Vibration Control System. A shame for Elvis, but a lot of success for Audi and Saatchi & Saatchi in Frankfurt.

And then the smaller cars appeared on the scene. A Mini Cooper was towed off by the recovery service and in the lower part of the ad you see a brand new Smart making its debut. The agency in this case was Springer & Jacoby Hamburg.

The answer to the ad came a month later when BMW launched its new Mini.

The ads all asked, plainly and simply: "Is it love?". Created by Jung von Matt an der Alster, the advertising campaign captured the hearts of the German public.

A typical execution for this campaign showed a map with huge hand-drawn bridges between Europe and the US. The ad's endline asked: "Is it love?"

German ad agencies have also extended their creative touch beyond cars to motorbikes.

Jung von Matt/Isar's work for the BMW C1 and TBWA/Berlin's Kawasaki commercial were both excellent.

But if I had to choose a favourite, it would be the Jung von Matt Mini campaign.

MARIE-THERES SCHWINGELER - Deputy creative managing director of Grey Worldwide, Germany

A classroom of ten-year-old children. A teacher. A car. These are the components of my favourite recent TV advertisement for the Mercedes C-Class Sports coupe by Springer & Jacoby.

A teacher asks the class what they want to be when they grow up. One boy says he wants to be an astronaut. A girl wants to become a doctor.

Another boy seems to be daydreaming as he looks down to the street below.

Noticing him, the teacher asks: "And you? What do you want to be?

The boy just smiles and answers: "Eighteen."

Out of the window we see the new Mercedes C-Class Sports coupe being parked in front of the school.

Why do I like the spot? It's simple. It turns the new Mercedes into a dream car without the need for any sophisticated driving scenes. And it does all this with one simple word: "Eighteen."

SEBASTIAN TURNER - Chief executive, Scholz & Friends Group; President of the German Art Directors Club

This ad should have been forbidden. It was published in one of the most challenging places a creative can think of: a textbook on creative advertising, published by Germany's noted scholar, Professor Werner Gaede.

In other words, the textbook is either a context where one can shine, or where you end up slinking into the shadows. The idea of the ad is alright but hardly anyone will understand this idea. So, let me explain.

The ad uses the symbolism of the 'no entry' traffic sign; a red circle crossed by a red bar. If you want to express that 'no entry' is a forbidden concept, you place this symbol within the symbol, creating a new traffic sign.

Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel, the great philosopher who brought us dialectics and the negation of negation, might have loved this ad. But Hegel is dead and we certainly don't want to address students of philosophy, although the signpost does say: "Applications wanted."

Who is it targeting? In a textbook on creative advertising the readers are likely to be be copywriters and art directors and it's highly improbable that this group will respond to a philosophical traffic sign.

But what shames me most is that I am responsible for this ad as it was made by Scholz & Friends. But then there is nothing on earth without a right of existence - let it at least serve as an example of how not to do it.

MICHAEL BOBEL - Creative director of Publicis in Frankfurt.

Elvis never sang King of the Road. Roger Miller charted his biggest hit with the song in the 50s. Nonetheless, it would have been tailor-made for Elvis and this is admirably confirmed by 2001's best commercial from Germany, "The fan".

The official title of the commercial for the Audi 4 with automatic transmission shows, in an intelligent and humourous way, that when creatively presented, a dull theme can indeed penetrate the awareness of the target group - and many others besides.

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi Frankfurt, the commercial demonstrates in a highly unconventional way, the smooth running and automatic transmission of the A4 by showing an Elvis doll.

The doll, attached to the windscreen, refuses point blank to make the famous Elvis hip gyrations during an automatic gear change. Previously, the doll did this during every manual change much to the delight of its owner and a hitch-hiker.

A pretty Audi woman driver then picks up the hitch-hiker. The finale of the spot is an imploring glance at his "rescuer

who is at the wheel of the A4 which fails to get the tiniest wiggle out of the Elvis. She taps her finger on the hips of the Elvis doll and then it performs its gyrations. Driver and hitch-hiker grin at each other. The sequence is accompanied by the song King of the Road, seemingly interpreted by Elvis. Cut. Logo.

At all major festivals last year, this commercial justifiably received the highest awards. And it helped Saatchi & Saatchi to jump from 14th to 12th place in the creative league table for 2001.

I am not aware if the film sold more Audi A4s with automatic transmission.

But it did trigger a near-hysterical run on the little Elvis doll. It was irrelevant whether you owned a real Elvis (blond ) or a copy (dark-haired); simply that the gyrating Elvis was a must for the car. It also shows that Elvis is, and always will be, a cult figure.I wonder if this will hold true for Audi?

OLIVER VOSS - Creative partner at Jung von Matt

The worst ad in Germany was made by our agency. And I have to apologise because it was really bad.

The nationwide ad featured a small town in Germany called Fulda which is in the middle of nowhere.

Fulda is known only for its famous car tyres and perhaps for once winning a bronze medal in a local flower competition.

The voiceover in the ad for the car rental company Sixt pointed out that: "Fulda is the most depressing city in Germany. People suffer over the daily boredom and dullness. Their only hope is to flee as quickly as they can. With a rental car from Sixt."

We showed grainy and dark black and white pictures of old shabby houses and people looking terribly depressed. And yet, to be honest, there was no real motive for picking - and picking on Fulda.

It was a really bad ad for Fulda and by way of a protest, thousands of people called and complained. The mayor of Fulda gave several TV interviews and spoke about town's traditions. The result? Well, the entire population of Fulda vowed never to rent a Sixt car again.


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