Berlin Launches Image Campaign With New Slogan | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.03.2008
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Berlin Launches Image Campaign With New Slogan

"Be Berlin" -- that's the message the German capital wants to project to the world. The catchphrase is part of a major publicity drive, but some people are asking: What would it mean to be Berlin?

Celebrators in front of Brandenburg Gate

Be partying -- Berlin is fun regardless of its slogan

Be successful

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit officially launched the slogan on Tuesday, March 11, as part of a 10.6 million euro ($16 million) marketing initiative to encourage tourism and enhance the city's image.

"With the branding campaign, the Berlin Senate wants to project Berlin's image outside the city," Woworeit said at the launch, "so that more people come visit us, more companies create new jobs here, and scientific, cultural and social richness of the city becomes easier to experience."


Be mayorial -- Wowereit's previous phrase for Berlin was "poor but sexy"

The catchphrase vaguely echoes John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech during the Cold War and follows in the trend of cities using advertising slogans to brand themselves.

Probably the most famous example is the "I Love New York" campaign of the late 1970s. More recently, the southern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg landed a hit with the slogan "We can do everything but speak proper German."

Berlin is Germany's top destination for tourists, attracting more than 8 million visitors and earning between 8 and 9 billion euros ($12-14.5 billion) from them annually. That's a business Berlin wants to expand.

Be stranded

Crane, Museum Island

Be building -- construction sites are still all over the capital

But the catchphrase has left many people scratching their heads as to what precisely one would be, if one were to choose to "be Berlin" -- all the more so since the debt-ridden capital is known just as much for being chaotic as it is for being creative.

"All Berlin residents should be warned … that the imperative is meant literally," wrote Berlin columnist Harald Martenstein ahead of the official launch. "When the first 'Be Berlin' billboards are erected and the entire city populace stops bathing, quits their jobs and throws all their money out the window, saying that the Berlin Senate told them to do so, we'll see we've shot ourselves in the foot."

Indeed, tourists currently visiting Berlin are getting a taste for just how disorderly the German capital can be. The city's public-transport workers are currently on strike, closing down the vast majority of subways, streetcars and busses and leaving visitors and natives alike to get around the huge metropolis as best they can.

Be sarcastic


Be fluffy -- some say Knut could have come up with a better idea

And Berliners themselves -- at least to judge from the blogs -- seem underwhelmed by the campaign, greeting it with their characteristic sarcasm.

Some have scoffed that the slogan sounds like a stutter. Others have quipped that a better catchphrase would be "Bi Berlin," playing on the city's tradition of tolerance.

A few Berliners have complained that the campaign is in English, not German. And a great many have speculated about how much the perennially cash-strapped capital paid for the three syllables.

Student protestors

Be broke -- Berlin's debts have meant cuts in services like education

"What did those two words cost?" asked one blogger on the online page of the Tagesspiegel newspaper. "I can only shake my head."

Black humor was another response.

"The money has to be gotten rid of," wrote a blogger on a page devoted to the capital. "If it's left lying around, someone will trip over it. It's better to spend it immediately. Then it's out of the way, and everything's hunky-dory."

And with Berlin already well known internationally for its nightlife and culture, it's debatable whether the city really needed help on this score from PR experts.

In the words of one foreign tourist to AP news agency: "I don't want to be Berlin. I wanted to come here to see the galleries."

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