Mention Hitler, Hitler, Hitler, or AIDS in Germany nowadays and you'll be surrounded by opinions and assholes. After the bareback Hitlerporn fuck-up a couple of days ago the "That's Just Like Hitler" Show just got a second season. The day after the release of the campaign video from Regenbogen e.V. and the ad agency Das Commitee responsible, a press orgyensued, which meant some people had to set some things straight. In traditional manner, they invited the nation's journalists to a conference in front of a Prussian castle in Berlin. As with the majority of cases where Hitler is reanimated for advertisement and walks zombie-like through the media everything got a lot, lot worse.
I was pretty much convinced that there would be corroboree scenes, Nazis fighting left-wing protestors, old farts in Wehrmacht uniforms, social uproar, fascists Blitzkrieging their way through Europe, etc. But no, nothing, just the over-achievers of Reuters hiding like pimps of the modern media in the only available shade.
Slowly the rest of the same old reporter bunch arrived. I could identify AP, BILD, and RTL, who were just bursting to get exicted all over what was about to to come.
Heiko Schüßling, the chairman of Regenbogen e.V., and Thomas, whose surname remains a mystery (and who was presented as the obligatory gay), arrived last. The first hard-hitting question was about how the idea to this HITLERAIDS piece had been developed. The stuttering set in. A litany of advertising jargon followed: "shocking, dramatic, wake people up, gain attention," and was celebrated.
To field a question on the criticisms from German Aidshilfe and their demand that the campaign be stopped immediately, Heiko pulled out his ace and pushed Thomas in front of the cameras. A little petrified, he began telling the by-now ravenous media crowd how he got infected with HIV and that he would have probably never caught the disease and used condoms "more often" if he'd have seen anything as drastic and dramatic as this back then. At this exact moment I was blinded by the sun and had to press my eyelids together in a sort of glare.
The next question was a real rip-snorter, about the many HIV infected who feel they are being put on a level with Hitler--a question which led Heiko, the media professional that he was, to label this group of people as "those folks" who "weren‘t supposed to be brought in this context. The disease should be compared to Hitler." I was really blinded by the sun.
To answer the question, "Who actually thinks the commercial is any good?" Heiko proclaimed that he'd received "a whole bunch" of e-mails, mostly from young people, who think the ad is good, even better than that: "brilliant." Because "sex and something shocking is shown."
The press crowd had become a little unsettled and persisted. The criticisms from the Central Council of Jews in Germany and holocaust survivors, who feel offended and degraded by this analogy, were then brought up. Several "no comment"s later came the answer: "We don‘t want to be put in this context." I put on my shades.
At some point it was time for me to ask my question. I looked Heiko straight in the eye and asked why they chose these three dictators (they also did ads featuring Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein) and seemed to miss the fact that AIDS is a far bigger concern in Africa. I suggested Idi Amin or Robert Mugabe to solve this little oversight. Heiko was turning professional again though and started to go on about "creative" questions and "decisions that were made by the promotion company, which they then followed to gain as much attention as possible." Luckily I was still wearing my sunglasses because I think there was a solar flare. However Thomas then touched Heiko's arm tenderly and suggested that he should stop answering questions. Unfortunately I was unable to ask about merchandise and where I can get the t-shirt.