When it comes to Germany and the United States, one cannot help but acknowledge a shift towards a more reserved relationship between the two countries’ people, especially within the last couple of years. In both countries there is the narrative of a divide growing between both nations’ beliefs and expectations, the way they see the world around them, as well as themselves in relationship to each other. In Germany, one can observe the growth of anti-Americanism. Many Germans, especially the younger, politically left leaning generation, cannot identify with the way America and the American society is portrayed to them by media outlets and happily join into the popular critique of not only American politics but also what is portrayed as reflecting American values, for example American consumerism or US foreign policy. On the American side of the Atlantic, there may be less of an animosity directed towards Germany in specific, but America’s growing isolationism may be seen as equally big a threat to the transatlantic relations. This narrative of a growing divide between the two countries’ agendas and values may be the single biggest menace to transatlantic endeavors today, because it directly threatens the public support for them on both sides of the Atlantic. Interestingly, programs like educational exchanges often reveal that Germans and Americans tend to get along quite well, almost naturally. This experience, that unfortunately only a small percentage of people have the privilege of experiencing, alludes to the differences between the countries’ cultures may be easier to overcome than we are often led to believe. Highlighting the similarities between Germany and the US, and overcoming anti-Americanist or isolationist prejudice, must be the goal of a campaign that wants to champion the importance of transatlantic relations and change people’s attitudes. Since educational exchanges and some companies operating across the Atlantic cannot be enough to change these attitudes on a broad scale, I suggest a campaign, that could be used on social media but also for classic billboard advertising, that focuses on the similarities and dependence between Germany and the United States in order change the narrative in both countries.
This article proposes a poster campaign in the realm of classic, commercial advertising with the title: “#strongertogether”. First, I want to have a look at the the best conditions for a campaign like this to be effective. Secondly, I want to to elaborate on how the campaign should actually look like, in order to have the greatest impact. When coming up with a campaign, the different forms of social media quickly come to mind as the easiest, most impactful solutions for reaching a wide audience. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram certainly have great potential for reaching a lot of people, especially the younger generation, but one has to also keep in mind the limitations of them. Since advertising today is so focused on social media, one runs the risk of getting lost in the sea of advertisements that compete for the users’ attention. That is why, the campaign has to position itself strategically within the social media platforms. For example, it would make sense to team up with big companies that are part of the popular culture of both countries, and profit from transatlantic commerce. Companies like fashion brands could be persuaded to become part of the campaign. Both sides would gain something out of this. While the companies want to ensure acceptance and exposure of their brands on both sides of the Atlantic, in both cultures, their social media accounts would ensure that the campaign would have a big impact since so many people could be reached through them. Since the campaign would rely on pictures, not videos or other media, it may not only be used on social media. Posters could be spread out strategically throughout major European and American cities in order to reach a lot of people outside of the internet. This cross-media poster campaign could ensure good exposure while reaching a more varied audience, for example also people that do not necessarily are reached via Facebook or Instagram.
When designing the campaign, choices have to be made that maximize the potential impact when trying to get a narrative of togetherness and unity between the countries across to onlookers, on social media and within cities. I think shortness and clarity are key to capturing interest. The short tagline #strongertogether encapsulates this message and can be understood easily by people from both countries. Also, the pictures used on the campaign have to be clear and can indeed rely on cliches to make the connection between the countries clear. Posters in Germany could depict well-known US sites, like the Statue of Liberty. The same idea can be transferred to the posters in the United States. Here, one could depict a pair of Lederhosen or the Brandenburg Gate. Here, cliches are used with purpose in order to ensure immediate recognition. Besides the tagline, only a short sentence is used to convey a persuasive statement. A poster in Germany could highlight America’s importance as the leading German export partner with a short sentence like: “Die USA sind Deutschlands wichtigster Exportpartner”. (Attached to this article, there is an example of how this might look). Similarly,in the United States a statistic like this could be persuasive: “German companies provide over 700.000 jobs within the United States”. The tagline #strongertogether, used on all posters, would create cohesion between them. These two examples concern themselves with economic numbers. While these are certainly useful, because a lot of people relate to questions of economic prosperity, facts concerning other areas of German-American similarities are possible. With a little more research and sociological studies the variety of ‘advertisements’ could be increased easily. Topics like environmental and social justice attitudes resonate well with citizens of both countries and can be highlighted to increase coherence between between the two societies while increasing support by the public in both countries.