Ikea Midsommar Tour through Germany.

Martin, Sarah, Julian and Cornelia are cruising from on Ikea to the next all throughout Germany as part of an Ikea Midsommar Tour, in order to find the best Midsommar bargains in Germany.

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The whole journey is being documented in many (partially live) video shows, blogs of each of the four and a Google map where you can check on their current position. Of course, the four travellers also have twitter profiles.

What I find puzzling is the fact that the blogs neither allow for comments, nor do they offer permalinks. Not really blog-like, if you ask me.

Quite well done is their strategy to reactivate people that were fans of a previous campaign they did almost a year ago: the main character of that campaign – Nils, who back then was “waiting for September” – started his Twitterfeed again, in order to point users who did not unfollow in the meantime (like yours truly) to the campaign.

The only thing that concerns me: it reminds me somehow of the Fake Walmart Blogger in 2006. Mind you, they do not conceil the fact that this is a campaign for Ikea, so you can’t really compare it…

Will there be Internet Censorship in Germany?

While everyone in the world is (rightly so) concerned about the election and the questionable democracy in Iran, we have to acknowledge the fact that German politics is just about to make a small step towards censorship as well. It’s not as big a news as Iran, but it does concern quite a few people in Germany, so I wanted to let my English speaking readers know, what is actually happening in good ol’ Germany at the moment.

Here is the thing: What sounds like a very good idea for the digitally ignorant politician can actually turn into a very dangerous thing: The “Zugangserschwerungsgesetz” (law for restricting access) is aimed at reducing child pornography on the web by blocking access to sites with this kind of content. Taking action against this kind of content is a good idea, no one disputes that!

The reason for more then 130.000 people petitioning online against it (more than 50.000 in the first three days alone) is the fact that the law proposal was very badly designed. On the petitioning website it specifically says, that the objective of preventing this cruel thing is not questioned at all. Just the means of reaching that objective are raising eyebrows of many bloggers, twitterers, etc, but also some not so digitally savvy users. Why?

  1. The way the government wants to set up the technical blocking of sites is highly ineffective. Anyone with some technical knowledge can alledgedly circumvent this effortlessly.
  2. But the much more important point: Judging which sites should be blocked, as well as implementing that block, was put into the responsibility of one single government body (the federal office of criminal investigation – the BKA). There also wasn’t any plan for a body controlling the BKA. In the first draft the BKA was supposed to be pretty much free to judge and execute any way they felt fit. Impossible in a modern democracy, one would think.

Had it solely been for preventing child abuse, it would have been fine. But it doesn’t prevent child abuse at all. That content will still be produced and distributed. These people will always find other channels, even if the technical blocking will someday be effective.

The reason this scared everybody is the fact that the introduction of such a law opens the gates for a number of other interests, too. Alledgedly, other lobbies interested in shutting down first-person-shooter sites, poker sites, etc. are already waiting in line until it’s their turn to get their way. (As ignorant as German official bodies seem to be at the moment, and as efficient as Germans are, I have no doubt that 10 years down the line we’d have a perfectly censored and controlled German webspace.)

German site netzpolitik.org has some more info on this whole dilemma (in english). Other bloggers also write heavily about it, however in German.

By now, the law has been softened slightly. Which is an improvement – otherwise it would have been a complete desaster. Since the first draft, the following things have been adapted:

  1. Delete instead of block: the proposal now states, that it should be the aim to try to delete those sites showing questionable content via the providers, before blocking them.
  2. Monitoring the controls: the BKA will now have to report to a committee controlling their actions. (I just wonder who makes up that committee…currently the office of data privacy in Germany is being discussed for that post)
  3. Prevention instead of collecting data: originally the user data of people (accidentally or intentially) accessing those sites would have been logged. This is no longer supposed to be the case.

The final vote in the German Bundestag is on Thursday. But it seems like everything is set now. And while the government tries to push this through within this legislature, the petition – the largest one sofar ever in Germany – will most likely only be administered by the petition committee after the summer break.

By that time the law might well have passed the majority vote in the Bundestag.

remix09 – live event notes 5

14:00 audience session: context by Stefan Erschwendner

Some interesting questions arise after the kick off presentation: 

  • Should agencies rather focus on context of the target audience? Will context drive marketing (communicationss) in the future?
  • Which type of agency will be best suited for this in the future? PR or ad agencies?
  • What happens when companies piggyback contexts without honestly solving the problems relevant to these contexts – when the branding effect is purely placebo.
  • How can you focus on certain contexts, for chocolate bars, for example? You can’t with the current system of target audience definition.
  • If the goal is managing relationships with consumers in different contexts, who will do that in the future? The brand, the agency? Probably the brand in the long term, agencies will turn in to coaches.
  • Will the time frame for communications programms change? The model of having “quarterly” campaigns can probably not be sustained in the future.

remix09 – live event notes 4

11:05 second day just started, with some delay, as Roland points out explicitly ;)

First panel: 

Trend Cocooning
Wie verändert die Krise das Verbraucherverhalten?

With Prof. Peter Wippermann and Roland Kühl v. Puttkammer (Organisator der remix09)

  • First, Roland explains the trend cocooning. Prof. Wippermann expands on it. The trend was orifinally coined by Faith Popcorn, before the internet existed in it’s current version.
  • Quote Wippermann: Freedom is being defined by technology…
  • Prof. Wippermann about scouting the web via software for identifying trends and topics. Sounds reasonable.
  • The below 20 year olds search for social connections preferrably online, instead of online. (?)
  • Now the panel is extended by two people from the audience: a young guy living in London, and John Groves, one of the sponsors of the conference. They are now discussing their personal media usage.
  • Especially younger people don’t have an internet presence such as a “homepage”, but rather facebook profiles, etc. Homepages are oldschool?
  • Wippermann: “Die Mitte ist die neue Minderheit” (not sure how to translate that: the average German is a minority)
  • People in gerneral are very slow in adopting new things. 34% still calculate prices in Deutsche Mark.
  • Who has more knowledge about the consumer: the ad agency or the companies? Wippermann: the companies. Agencies are still busy being “creative”.
  • it is an idea of the industrial age to separate everything: ad agencies from the companies. Originally, advertising was part of the companies. In the network age, everything will be connected (again). 
  • The middlemen (media companies, agencies) will have to proof their added value. Companies can directly connect with their target audience and gain knowledge.
  • Three Trends by Wipperman: freedom defined by technology, success defined by sharing, family as a “negative” trend, because people are afraid/don’t want it…

12:00 – next session is about Hinz&Kunzt, a street magazine sold by homeless people here in Hamburg.

Hinz & Kunzt
Ein gemeinnütziger Verlag im Überblick

  • A monthly magazine, founded: 1993 by Dr. Reimers. A brand awareness of 94% The idea: helping people to help themselves. Financially and politically independent.
  • Each homeless person is a single entrepreneur. They purchase the magazine in advance for 0,80€ and then sell it for 1,70€ When starting, each reseller gets 10 magazines for free. There are about 400 resellers in Hamburg.
  • There also is a website, wich some of the magazine articles as a teaser. They even have a blog (because: you have to have one today…?)