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Ideas May Change Day By Day But Advertising Is Forever

Advertising people, happy as always, trade in ideas, presented creatively. They also sell all sorts of stuff, proclaiming their creativity as beneficial or, at least, benign. Over the decades their efforts have undergone adjustments, sometimes by legal boundaries such as prohibitions on tobacco ads and sometimes by social convention. Ad-supported media businesses, then, grumble about losing money.

ad busIdeas have clashed recently in Germany. Ads promoting business development in Turkey were rather unceremoniously dropped last week by German TV news channels n-TV and N24. A few days earlier German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced a “reorienting” of policies toward Turkey in light of yet another German national - Amnesty International representative Peter Steudtner - arrested for “supporting terrorism,” reported Deutsche Welle (July 21). “The first consequences will be new travel advisories for German citizens in Turkey” as consular access has been "restricted in violation of the obligations of international law.” German and Turkish authorities have increasingly diverged on a variety of ideas, such as rule of law and freedom of expression.

The Turkish Exporters Assembly produced its “Turkey, Discover The Potential” ad campaign, with support from the Economy Ministry, earlier this year, noted Türkiye Gazetesi (July 22). The multi-media campaign - newspaper inserts and TV spots - has appeared in Germany, France, Italy, the UK, the US, the UAE and Russia supporting trade shows in several cities. German football star Lukas Podolski, currently signed to a Turkish team, appeared in the TV ads, running in Germany since mid-June, along with senior executives of several multi-national companies touting business investment in Turkey.

“The political situation has changed fundamentally since Tuesday,” said an IP Deutschland statement, quoted by Handelsblatt (July 21), “so further broadcasting of the campaign is no longer appropriate.” RTL Group owns n-tv and IP Deutschland is its sales-house subsidiary, which reportedly made the decision.

“Our programming and advertising are clearly separated,” said N24 spokesperson Kristina Fässler, “but considering recent developments we do not want to irritate our audience.” She went on to explain that ad planning is “long-term.” N24 is owned by publisher Axel Springer and integrated into news operations of daily newspaper Die Welt. German/Turkish correspondent Deniz Yücel, employed by Die Welt, has been held in a Turkish jail for 150 days, attention to which Axel Springer has maintained with a “Free Deniz” campaign.

As the Turkish business development PR campaign included a 12-page newspaper insert several publishers found themselves biting their own tongues. An Axel Springer subsidiary printed the colorful inserts and “arranged” distribution, reported German daily Tageszeitung (July 19). “We publish advertisments,” explained Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung managing director Stefan Hilscher, quoted by Horizont (July 16), ”so long as the advertiser or the content does not violate the Constitution or any other law. The ad was checked.”

None of this went over well in Turkey. “Germans are using threats and blackmail as a weapon,” wrote pro-government daily Turkiye Gazetesi (July 22), directly accusing the German foreign minister of “cutting off the advertising spots.”

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