German Propaganda Buses Hit D.C. Streets

By Lydia DePillis - Housing Complex
|  Friday, May 6, 2011  |  Updated 8:29 PM EDT
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German Propaganda Buses Hit D.C. Streets

German Embassy

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Now, here's a novel idea to promote your country: Remind people of all the words they use that come from your national language, say, on a prominent mode of public transportation, such as a bus! That's the gimmick the German Embassy has come up with to increase awareness of their Teutonic ways. From a press release:

All over the bus, vividly colored banners, flags and signs containing German words pop out from the vivid green background. The words, 18 in all including "kindergarten," "mensch," "zeitgeist," and "wanderlust," were chosen because they are commonly used in English, are familiar to most Americans and because they convey fun or uniquely German concepts.

Pedestrians in the city and website visitors anywhere in the United States are invited to "Spot the Bus" and take a picture or screenshot of it for a chance to win a package of www.Germany.info gear, including bags, t-shirts, pens and more...Every day through July 2011, the "German is Wunderbar" bus will travel on Metrobus lines out of Metro's Western Garage.

Embassy Spokesman Karl-Matthias Klause explains the reasoning behind the bus and the "do Deutsch" campaign:

"German is wunderbar–I really believe that German is a wonderful language. Some of the hottest tickets in the US are tickets to the New York Metropolitan opera's Wagner Ring cycle–sung in German. 'Das Auto' is known by many who want to drive a German car and appreciate German engineering. Berlin and its Brandenburg Gate are the symbol for the end of the division of Europe and for peaceful revolution. The German economy is the driving force in Europe, and German companies have recently built some of their most modern production sites, with thousands of jobs, in the United States. And here too: German is important, and can even be a career maker.

The particularly vibrant and lively bus design and the slogan, 'German is Wunderbar,' are meant to specifically deliver the message that German is fun in an ironic way. We are proud that the Savannah College of Art and Design produced such a wonderful design that so beautifully reflects our campaign. Washington, DC, is a wonderful place to live and a world-class tourist city. With our 'German is Wunderbar' bus we want to bring a light and funny impression to the streets of Washington this summer–and maybe encourage people to think about learning languages–in particular German.

I kind of think it looks more like a candy bar promotion than an ad campaign for Germany, but why quibble?

German Propaganda Buses Hit D.C. Streets was originally published by Washington City Paper on May 6, 2011

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