Scots complain about ″offensive″ German advertising | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 02.11.2009
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Scots complain about "offensive" German advertising

When Germans talk about deep discounts, they sometimes use the phrase 'Scottish prices.' Now Scottish politicians say they're sick of being typecast as tightwads and want the practice to end.

Scottish football fans in Germany

Scottish politicians say they're sick of German ads portraying them as penny-pinching

Thriftiness is a widely-admired virtue in Germany, but Germans think the Scots are the true champions of thrift. Stores and bargain-hunting Web sites often advertise 'Scottish prices', upsetting Scottish politicians, who say the practice should stop.

In a letter to Germany's ZAW advertising association, Angus Robertson, head of the Scottish National Party's parliamentary delegation, said the practice of referring to the Scottish people when advertising cheap prices bordered on racism.

"The repeated use of condescending images and slogans falsely associating Scots with 'meanness' is pejorative and feeds out-dated prejudices," Robertson, whose mother is German, said in a statement given to Deutsche Welle.

ZAW spokesman Volker Nickel was not available to comment on Robertson's letter.

'Clever Scots' and deep discounts

Scottish nationalist politician Angus Robertson

Scottish nationalist Angus Robertson made the complaint; his mother is German

Stores often advertise having "Scottish Prices, "and ads regularly use Scottish imagery to convey a sense of thriftiness.

Chains like McFit, a popular budget gym, and McPaper, an inexpensive stationary store, capitalize on the German stereotype of Scottish tightfistedness. The Mäc Geiz discount chain has a tartan background on its Web site and offers discounts from the "clever Scot."

"Given the high value modern Germany sets against intolerance it is odd that the advertising industry feels it is fine to repeatedly single out Scots and Scotland in this way," Robertson said.

Robertson singled out the popular Geizkragen price comparison Web site, which features a man with a man with a kilt and a tartan stuffing gold coins into a piggy bank. Geizkragen founder Oliver Flaskamper insisted the site's motif was not done out of any desire to offend Scots.

"If we portrayed them badly, we wouldn't make any money," Flaskamper told Deutsche Welle, adding he had recently been to Glasgow for a trip. "[Scots] laugh, they're happy and they save money."

'Swabians don't wear kilts and tartans'

The Scottish National Party - which holds seats in the Scottish, British and European parliaments and advocates Scottish independence from Britain - compared the German portrayal of Scots to anti-Semitism.

In an interview with the British Daily Telegraph published Sunday, Robertson said advertisers would not dare use the same stereotypes with groups such as orthodox Jews.

"It doesn't have to be this way," Robertson told the newspaper.

Geizkragen's Flaskamper said his Web site was being unfairly targeted by Scottish nationalists eager for attention. He said he would happily create a Web site based on the southern German Swabians, who also have a reputation for thriftiness, "but you can't portray them very well, they don't wear kilts and tartans."

Men dancing in lederhosen

Germans suffer from stereotypes, too. Most don't wear lederhosen every day

On the subject of stereotypes, Flaskamper said Germans suffer from their fair share.

"Everyone in the rest of the world thinks we all look like Bavarians, wear lederhosen, drink lots of beer and eat lots of sausage and sauerkraut," Flaskamper said. "Of course it's not like that, but you don't see Germans complaining about it."

Reporter: Brett Neely
Editor: Sam Edmonds

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