Euro Cup 2012 started last week. On the day before, walking on a central street in Berlin with colleagues, I saw in a drugstore, and immediately purchased, the dishwashing liquid: “fit Spuehl Fuehrer.”
I checked out the maker’s website to find traces of “corporate Germany” celebrating consumption and sports, as was the case in the World Cup six years ago, when tabloids and supermarket chains cooperated in selling the newspaper/beer/ flag. The website had nothing about this newly minted product. There was also no reflection on it in the press: unsurprising, perhaps, as there has been no interest in the overall presentation of the flag this time around.
The maker of the dishwashing liquid (TIP) advertises another product with the flag, a “fan hat” with a bear and a flag on it. Something you’d wear going to see the game outside. I also learned from the website that the liquid is slightly cheaper than their normal dish soap.
That afternoon I saw the same product in a different drugstore in my neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg, again, in very visible outdoor stand, and got it to share with family and friends, and to test again, now in a different part of Berlin, whether there would be any comment made about my purchase. There was not.
Sometimes a flag is just a flag, I guess, and fans everywhere celebrate their national teams. But how should one read the association with the fuehrer?
I posted the photo on Facebook and some friends living in Germany assured me that it is benign. That Hitler is not a part of it; “they” did not think about it that way. Of course “they” did, and playfully, with reference to another term: “Spiel Fuehrer”— “the man of the match.”
The flag colors combination is everywhere in Germany, related to games. Restaurants and cafés fly flags, indicating that they are broadcasting matches. The flag colors are on ads all around town, including my son’s new sneakers, which he chose, and my daughter Brio toys’ packaging.