German ad slogans in English advertising

It’s the second time I come across a German product ad using a German slogan in the English speaking market. “Audi: Vorsprung durch Technik.” And now: “Miele: Immer besser.” I asked my English native connections on LinkedIn and Twitter whether it is about the ‘Made in Germany’ seal suggesting and emphasising a standard of quality? What they had to say and the discussion that unfolded was fascinating.

All seemed to agree that the fact the slogan is in German emphasises quality, efficiency and all those things typically associated with German standards. A friend would go as far as to say that using a German slogan adds great authenticity to the brand. She feels that it makes her trust the message more with the inclusion of German language on the adverts. (One connection also mentioned that German car adverts may lose their appeal after the Diesel scandals …).

Another important point was the location and positioning of the billboard which also says a lot about the target audience. I saw the ad in London’s busy Bank underground station.

Ryan O’Shea, a Scottish-borne living and working in Germany thought that “the positioning of that billboard in Bank Underground … speaks to a workplace demographic that is educated to degree level and higher, highly skilled; and has an awareness of German culture through popular channels and German English speaking colleagues in London; and has been to Germany (especially Berlin) or has somewhere in Germany as a desired destination.”

I’m rather curious whether these ads turn up in less “multiculti” cities and if so, what the reaction is there …

Ryan also pointed out that “Miele is as high end a producer of white goods as you can buy, and probably could go head to head in terms of quality and status with Dyson in UK buyers minds.” “I hardly knew them until I moved to Berlin, but the quality is quite remarkable … Makes sense to emphasise the German origin in comparison to Dyson” – he explains.

Another connection shared her experience of buying a German washing machine the other day. “They even have a special product line which is guaranteed to be assembled and built in Germany and not further East. I think it shows that “Made in Germany” is maybe a bit nerdy, and that they don’t need to be cool and maybe even thrive on the notion of being a German brand.” – she explains. “My impression is that companies here have spent generations perfecting nuts, bolts, engines, whatever, but are not in the process of missing the digital revolution …”

Made in Germany

Made in Germany

Coincidentally, I came across a documentary about the birth of “Made in Germany”. Apparently, it was born in England at the end of the 19th century. German engineers started to copy English trade marks and produce the same kind of products, only cheaper. English people quickly started to buy the cheaper good quality products.

In order to inform the masses about the origin of the product, the English passed the Merchandise Act 1887 that said that all products imported into Britain must have a seal that indicates where the product is from. Made in Germany was a kind of warning, but it clearly backfired as my connections confirmed in their comments. From product piracy to seal of quality – that’s a rather interesting journey …

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.