Marketing the Rainbow
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In spite of the roaring twenties, and Berlin's reputation of a refuge for LGBT - as witnessed by "Cabaret" - and the fact that Germany is the fourth best European country to work in if you identify as LGBT (according to a 2016 study by Expert Market), Germany does not run in the forefront of gay-friendliness these days. If only as testified by their late joining of the "same sex marriage club" in 2017, more than 15 years later than their neighbors The Netherlands and Belgium.
Roughly six million people in Germany identify as a member of the LGBT community - an interesting consumer group and yet only a handful of brands have campaigns aimed at them directly. Berlin-based digital advertiser Netzdenker, specialized in gay marketing, quoted a survey in which they found that 66% of all LGBTs feel their lifestyle is not adequately represented in advertising.
The German LGBT primarily comes in contact with advertising online instead of on TV like the majority of the German population. The group is ideal for online marketers and advertisers as they are more likely to search for products on their phones, while LGBs in Germany go as far as saying that linear TV belongs to the past. They are also characterized as social multipliers - people who are more frequently asked by friends and acquaintances for advice before they purchase a product - and early adopters.
The German National Tourist Office dedicated a specific section of its website to encourage gay travel to the nation's major cities in 2008. Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich “came out” with new information highlighting their gay-friendly accommodations, hotspots, bars, meeting points and museums as well as special attractions and deals at the new mini web portal.
Gay life is deeply integrated into German culture, and gay communities are noted catalysts of tolerant, multicultural cities. Christopher Street Day parades are on many people’s agendas for 2009. The Gay Games VIII were celebrated in Cologne in July 2010, with 12,000 participants from more than 70 countries converging on the city.
With a history of tolerance and being the epicenter of gay Europe (if not the world) in the early 20th century, Berlin – still – has it all. Diverse gay and lesbian scenes, numerous meeting points (150 bars and cafes) and facilities and a first class infrastructure. An association of gay horeca entrepreneurs, two free city newspapers, publishers, bookstores, pharmacies, sport clubs, dancing lessons, language courses, fetish shops, radio broadcast, the TEDDY Film Award, of course the annual CSD (Christopher Street Day, or Pride Parade) – and the list goes on.
The existing initiatives, activities and institutions of the local community were not reinvented or reorganized but rather made available to the visitors. Local contact points, gay and lesbian media and the preferences of the gay community for cityscapes, top events, culture and nature, opened up numerous marketing possibilities for the destination Berlin. The high level of the tourist attractions is ideally tailored to this target group. The fact that Berlin ‘nightlife’ is 24/7 helped too.
Complete city quarters, like Schöneberg, Prenzlauer Berg or Kreuzberg, have been influenced by LGBT culture.
This does not mean that Berlin turned into an explicit homosexual travel destination. Instead the integration of gays and lesbians into the general work of the Berlin Tourismus Marketing came into focus.
Note: Berlin has had an openly gay mayor since 2001, Klaus Wowereit ("Ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so").
A late starter, Cologne presented their “LGBT positioning” in 2008, with a notable weekend showcase of LGBT travel highlights for five leading UK specialist gay tour operators and travel agents.
The city’s Christopher Street Day (Pride Festival) has been among the most popular of Europe for a decade now, so it is a bit strange that Cologne only hopped on this train so late. Also, by 2008 they already had been nominated as the host for the massive 2010 Gay Games.