by Ares Kalandides
As every week here is my pick of news from and on Germany. Today with the following:
1. Save the Berlin Wall!
2. Interview with Heiner Flassbeck, former German State Secretary of Finance
3. Dubious journalism: Institute of New Economic Thinking and the Greek SYRIZA according to the German press
4. Germany and the crisis
5. German political party economics
6. The decline of collective labour agreements in Germany
… or a very different type of Nation Branding.
by Ares Kalandides
The Athens-raised bi-national Berliner weighs in on the cultural animosity surrounding the euro debate.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a German, yet it seems that becoming one is even harder. I was doing well for a while. I got my own flat in Berlin’s most gentrified neighbourhood, assembled my little patchwork family and stopped smiling at unknown shop attendants. Things were going so well that in 2000, after 10 years in the country, I was even given German citizenship. I was finally home, as happy as any German can be.
Then two years ago everything started going downhill. In March 2010 Focus magazine published an issue that was to have considerable consequences. The cover showed the famous Louvre statue “Venus de Milo” giving the finger to the reader. The headline said “Crooks in the Euro Family” – and addressed Greece, the country where I was born and raised. Now, to be very honest, I do not much care for national symbols, so I was not offended by the statue’s rude gesture, but being called a villain – in a general, undifferentiated manner – was indeed shocking. The real blow though was the content of the main article. Practically every single piece of prejudice that can be conceived about a people was in there. Greeks (in general) were dishonest, lazy, and useless. Their civilisation was rubbish. Their islands overrated. Even their food was indigestible. That article was so stupid as to become ridiculous. Or so I thought. The global financial crisis, which had started in the fall of 2008, was producing its first visible victim among countries: Greece. The newly elected government under George Papandreou turned to Europe for help. National finances were so desolate that the state would soon be unable to meet its obligations. Greece was reduced to the role of a beggar, a role it is still playing. Continue reading
by Hans Pul
Place reputations sometimes alter abruptly, but mostly it is a long process in time. Sometimes, place reputation changes take generations. The following article by Joris Luyendijk, a Dutch journalist at The Guardian, deals with this theme from his individual perspective (with many references to football and politics). It deals with how Germany is seen by the Dutch, and how this has changed in a positive manner in the last decades:
“Damn! Where have my anti-German feelings gone?”
Secondly, the article is a good illustration of how “the grass is always greener at the neighbour’s garden”, as a Dutch saying goes. It shows how having an (overly) positive image of Germany, combined with an (overly) negative stance towards their own country, has become fashionable among Dutch intellectuals:
”And as Germany is becoming a country to look up to, the Netherlands is fast becoming a country to be ashamed of – making anti-German feelings even harder to harbour.”
Read the full article at The Guardian.
By Hanna Lutz
It is not only companies that have become more and more aware of the importance of binding employees to them in the long term instead of only focusing on new staff and customers (Internal Employer Branding). Also city and region managers start to realize that their marketing efforts should not only involve the recruitment of skilled employees, investors, companies and tourists – but also address the residents in order to raise their identification with the city/region as well as their local or regional affiliation.
The blog entry Marketing of High-tech Regions (1): Karlsruhe “HighTech meets the Good Life” already dealt with the issue of regional cooperation and their marketing tools aiming to attract external actors such as specialized personnel. This post will present another regional cooperation, the “Nuremberg Metropolitan Region” (NMR) which focuses – besides the increase of attention in the international arena – also on the identification that its citizens themselves have with their city or region.
By Hans Pul
Regional marketing booms. Small (and big) cities team up in regional cooperations, in order to get noticed in the international arena. Together, regional actors aim to attract investors, potential employees and tourists. Career opportunities and quality of life play an important role in this respect. Richard Florida’s well-known book The Rise of the Creative Class, Cities and the Creative Class (2002) proves to be influential once again. Continue reading
Although this piece by economist Yanis Varoufakis is not directly linked to place branding, I find that it is an excellent account of how and why country stereotypes are produced, what the role of story-telling and of journalists is and what consequeces this may have.
by Hans Pul
‘Made in Germany’ stands for quality products, for top-notch engineering. For world-class cars, machines, dish washers, etcetara. The reputation of German products as quality products is very valuable for the German economy as a whole. German companies eagerly use the ‘Made in Germany’ label to communicate the quality of their products to consumers around the world. The ‘Made in Germany’ label is such a strong brand, that some companies have adjusted their production processes in order to be able to use the label. They open an assembly plant in Germany and put together their product there, while (sub-)components are produced abroad. This leads to important questions: Does the term ‘Made in Germany’ make sense in times of globalized production processes? What does it mean that a product was produced in a country? When a product is assembled in country A, while the parts of the product were produced in country B, C and D, is the product ‘produced’ in country A? Is ‘Made in Germany’ misleading towards consumers?
These questions have become highly relevant, as the EU commissioner Algirdas Semeta plans to restrict the use of claims like ‘Made in Germany’.
by Ares Kalandides
It sometimes happens in the middle of the night. I am woken up by a horrible racket and find myself fighting – with myself. “You are a lazy bastard” my German self is shouting to my Greek self. “You dirty Nazi” retorts my Greek self to my German one. Going in-between is useless. I even risk being beaten up by both of them at the same time. Now, how did all that start? Continue reading
by Valentin Schipfer
There is a special aesthetic quality to old coal mines that can perhaps be best described as a “moon landscape”. Yet coal-mining areas are rarely considered the most attractive places in the world. Though many live and work in these areas, individual relationships with coal-mines can often be very contradictory: locals depend upon them to make their living, but at the same time these mines pollute their air, water, and ground. Moreover, when the mines close down, jobs disappear and only debris is left behind. How do you deal with such areas? Continue reading