Global viewpoint from Germany
A view from Eric Schoeffler

Global viewpoint from Germany

Did you ever wonder why Germans are so goddamn successful? The answer is actually quite simple. Because we want to be. Not funny? Yeah, but that's exactly the point. Get rid of any kind of humour and you will experience success made in Germany.

We don’t want to stress the football thing again; we know you don’t think it’s funny. But, just like in football, about a decade ago, Germany decided to be successful in advertising too and to win tons of awards at all these famous and prestigious awards shows all over our shining advertising planet.

Here’s the recipe: we started to engineer ads like machines, making sure we didn’t leave any trace of fun anywhere. The result: ideas with precision and an almost Bauhaus-like seriousness, such as BMW’s "Kinetic Sculpture" or print ads for Bisley where the idea wasn’t funny at all but perfectly executed. Take a closer look at our wonderful and brutally successful "don’t make up and drive" digital ad for Volkswagen – facts and shock, but no joke. Or the epic idea for Hornbach (you saw that one, right?) turning a tank into the ultimate hammer for all German DIYers. All these ideas are brilliant. They are outstanding. They raise the bar and they are untouchable. But…  they are not funny.

And, no surprise here, we dominate the category where the most German of all behaviours counts: directness. From flat mailing to dimensional mailing to direct response (on- and offline, we just don’t care) – here, we rule like Angela Merkel would like to rule the eurozone financial policies.

We started to engineer ads like machines, making sure we didn't leave any trace of fun anywhere

So is there really no humour in German ads? Humour that makes you belch out in laughter or at least smile inwardly? Is there no German ad like Combos’ "what your mom would feed you if your mom were a man"? Or something like the "don’t let a mobile phone ruin your movie" spots by Orange? What about the product category, which, internationally, is destined for the funniest ads? Is there no hint of humour, not even in German beer ads?

Come on. Of course not. If you would have the Reinheitsgebot (German purity law) and phrases such as "bierernst" (beer-serious), would you dare to come up with ideas such as the "walk-in fridge" or a "real men of genius" campaign? You see?

Quickly back to football. A few years ago, Germans decided to not "just win" football matches any more, but to win with style and beauty. So, if we succeed in Brazil this year, then maybe, just maybe, we might also start thinking about adding humour to our ads. Imagine that.

PS. I sense you’re wondering about our funny "Pedro" ad for VW that last year won a Cannes Lion in the Film category. It was written by Jack Christensen – our lovely art director from the UK. And that again is no joke.

Eric Schoeffler is the chief creative officer at DDB Tribal Group