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Me, grumpy? What about the Germans?
By Ian Jarrett ~ The Grumpy Traveller
Wednesday, 1st February 2006
 
With so much focus on Chinese New Year and, in his neck of the woods, Australia Day, it was easy for Ian Jarrett to miss Great Grumpy Day in Britain.

A formula created by a part-time tutor at Cardiff University shows that foul weather, debts, fading Christmas memories, failed resolutions and a lack of motivation all conspire to make people in the UK miserable on January 24 – Grumpy Day - each year.

My wife has been known to refer to me as Mister Grumpy on many occasions but I don't think I ever get as bad as the Brits in their post-Christmas spending splurge depression – nor the Germans, who have been saddled with the reputation as the grumpiest people on earth.

Just recently Germans responding to a national TV and billboard campaign to eradicate grumpiness have invaded blog-land. Many people, if the blogs are anything to go by, are feeling pretty grumpy about the "Du Bist Deutschland  (You Are Germany) ad campaign.

The advertising guru who dreamed up the campaign probably thought it was a good idea at the time. After all, with the economy struggling, unemployment high and Germans worried about the invasion of English soccer fans for this year's World Cup tournament, spirits needed to be lifted.

Ad agencies, newspapers and a handful of celebrities donated some €30 million-worth of advertising space to the non-profit campaign, which featured German greats such as Beethoven and Einstein.

"Du bist Deutschland" was the motto on every picture. "You are Germany." You are talented, beautiful, intelligent, and strong.

Jean-Remy von Matt, a Belgian, headed the German ad firm that spearheaded the campaign. His mistake – if, indeed, it was a mistake - was to take offence when bloggers lampooned his work.

According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, von Matt ridiculed bloggers in an internal memo, claiming blogs were  "the toilet walls of the Internet."

Von Matt later apologized for his attack on free expression but he was still grumpy that an internal email had swirled around blogosphere.

What I find interesting about this whole affair is that blogging in Germany has really taken off in the wake of the ad campaign.

So perhaps von Matt was being smarter than his critics think by comparing blogs to toilet walls. It got the campaign a lot of publicity.

And surely he won't be grumpy about that...

IAN JARRETT is based in Fremantle, Western Australia from where he travels frequently in Asia on assignments for travel magazines.

He is a member of the BamBoo Alliance, a group of leading travel writers in the region. He can be contacted at ianjarrett@mac.com


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