How is Christmas celebrated? This is currently the subject of a lively debate on the Internet. Meanwhile, tens of thousands support the Facebook group "Christmas is decided in the manger," an action against the slogan of an electronics chain. Just one example of the struggle for the interpretive sovereignty of the Christian festival.
"Christmas will be decided under the tree," Media Markt says. This slogan undermines the Christian origin of the festival, promotes the pre-Christmas consumer terror and exposes people who could not afford such gifts, describes initiator Melanie Zink the motives of her fellow campaigners.
Meanwhile, the Ingolstadt company's slogan made it all the way to the German Advertising Council. On Thursday, however, the industry's self-regulatory body decided to forgo a rebuke. The chain can therefore continue to advertise without complaint with the slogan. For Volker Nickel, spokesman for the Central Association of the German Advertising Industry (ZAW), the event raises a completely different question anyway. "Why does it need an impulse from outside at all for the churches to stand up and say what is important to them at Christmas??After all, the companies' advertising only reflects what they already find in society," reads the title. "Otherwise it won't work."
"Praise the merchant" In other words: In the future, too, there will be slogans of the brand "We make Christmas a sports festival" and "Praise the merchant". Or commercials featuring the Magi offering frankincense, myrrh and gold to the baby Jesus in the manger, with a fourth colleague in tow offering a case of energy drink. Should the churches jump on this bandwagon and become active for their part? Why not, thinks communication designer Eva Jung. The managing director of the advertising agency gobasil would like to see more momentum from those responsible for spreading the Christmas message. "The churches could stand up confidently and say, 'This is our celebration! And explain to people what it's actually all about."
After all, there are such initiatives on a regional level. One example can be found a few minutes' drive from Jung's office, on the edge of Hamburg's Speicherstadt warehouse district. This is where the headquarters of the "Give Your Tithe" campaign is based. On the Internet and with local media partnerships, the campaign supported by the two churches in Hamburg and the Peter Kramer Foundation wanted to encourage people to think about the annual material battle under the Christmas tree in the run-up to Christmas. And instead, with reference to the biblical passage from the Old Testament, persuade the Hanseatic people to donate to aid campaigns and to do voluntary work.
With success, as an evaluation of the now completed initiative carried out these days shows. According to a study, one in four Hamburg residents surveyed knew what to make of the campaign. Among the key messages that stuck were: "Christmas as a festival of love" and the importance of unpaid commitment to society. "It was worth it," is the organizers' verdict.
"Is the Christ Child the daughter of Santa Claus?" The operators of Bonn's "Kirchenhutte", an ecumenical stand at the city's central Christmas market, have also had a positive response. There passers-by can acquire a brochure with interesting facts about Christmas for one euro. "Is the Christ Child the daughter of Santa Claus??"reads the title. On 59 pages there are answers to questions such as: "Why do many more people go to church at Christmas??" or "Since when has there been a Christmas tree with baubles??"
The initial print run of 5.000 copies are already almost out of print. For the authors, proof that an "aha effect" can certainly attract attention. Whether such approaches could also be used as part of a major advertising campaign? Well possibly, finds ZAW speaker nickel. "After all, the bell is not the only PR instrument."