Werdohl, Germany

Marketing Multiculturalism: Advertising Campaign for Integration

Fachbereich Soziales, Wohnen und Jugend

March 1, 2009

Designing an advertising campaign from the inside out: using community participation for greater impact

Whether it’s the launch of a new car, the release of a new movie or an upcoming political campaign advertising in all its forms (print, radio, television and direct marketing) remains the most effective tool to help get a message out and to bring a target audience or consumer base on board.

When the local steel industry began slowing down, the City of Werdohl in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany started observing that the rise in economic tension was leading to increased stress between immigrant groups and the German population. In response, they decided to launch a professional marketing and public relations campaign to address the situation and change people’s views and perceptions.

At over 20%, Werdohl has the highest percentage of foreign born residents in the North Rhine Westphalia region, most of whom have a Turkish background. The Turkish community was particularly impacted by the growing unemployment, with over 38% of the workers laid off from the steel plants being of Turkish background. A consequence of this disproportionate rise in unemployment in the Turkish community was a growing reluctance to integrate with the larger community.

The City Werdohl saw the public relations and marketing campaign as a means to reach out and directly involve the Turkish community in city life and stop the increasing geographic and class segregation that was occurring around Werdohl.

The key message of the campaign was that integration was important and necessary to city life. What made the campaign particularly unique was that the City of Werdohl designed the campaign with the immigrant community and not just about or for them.

Beginning in 2003, the city enlisted in the help of the Institut für interkulturelle Management- und Politikberatung (IMAP, Institute for Intercultural Management and Policy advisory), to develop and implement this campaign.

Together, they worked to build relationships with representatives from the mosques and other community organizations to persuade them to collaborate on the development of the integration campaign. Direct contact and involvement with leaders from the Turkish community resulted in increased contact beyond the immediate community, advancing campaign goals right from the start and shaping both the messages and authenticity of the campaign. By reaching out to women’s groups at mosques, schools and community centers, Turkish women also became involved in the campaign.

The final campaign involved the creation and strategic distribution of flyers, posters and leaflets as well as an email campaign that targeted stakeholders and community members. Corporate sponsors provided funding; schools and other education establishments as well as local businesses all supported the campaign through their newsletters and networks. As a result, the campaign culminated in a series of successful community and neighborhood forums.

The final result was a full professional campaign on the role and necessity of integration that both reflected the concerns of the Turkish and immigrant community while directly reaching out to the larger German community. Among the promotional tactics used were surveys that showed that both immigrants and German born residents felt that it was possible to overcome cultural differences. These results were widely published throughout the city. To move perception away from the problems and instead to focus on the successes, the City of Werdohl began regularly featuring successful integration policies and stories in the main newspapers, radio and television stations. They also prominently featured these positive stories in the Turkish community papers.

For a selection of library resources related to this Good Idea, see sidebar at right.

Hier geht es zur Fallstudie auf der Seite Demographie Konkret (Bertelsmann Stiftung): Werdohl – Werbekampagnen in Stadtteilen.

Making it Work for You:

  • The strength of the Werdohl integration campaign came from its authenticity and the direct involvement of the target community in its planning and implementation.
  • Changing attitudes, behavior patterns and cultural expectations doesn't happen over night. Lay the groundwork for change with care to ensure the long-term success of your campaign.
  • Learn from the professionals --do your marketing homework before designing your campaign material. Consult your target audience to maximize impact!