Club culture and guerilla/disguised marketing, a problematic tendency of the United We Stream campaign

The United We Stream campaign by the Club Commission Berlin and Reclaim Club Culture together with ARTE established a streaming format and fundraiser, which many celebrated as representing and supporting club culture in times when clubs are closed due to Corona. Early on they decided against big sponsors, we guess in order not to be co-opted by the industry. Previous experiences of big firms such as Red Bull and others aggressively branding the events they support might have played a role. While we as Shituationists are not really taking position here – maybe an energy drink firm is the kind of funding that culture needs in 21st century cultural industry? We think for example of Ryder Ripp’s residency project with Red Bull. Who are we to say what is the right path for the future of cultural funding? But we do have a problem with claims for authenticity and pureness, that are viral in the Berlin club scene, when they have a backdoor for more unethical forms of funding. Such was unfortunately the case with the United We Stream campaign. The fundraising campaign for club culture “United We Stream” accidently or purposedly (they never released a statement) supported guerrilla marketing and disguised advertising by Rossmann and Lemonaid.

Almost two million views for an advertisement on Facebook, for a few thousand Euros donation. Rossmann’s guerrilla marketing with the rapper Massiv (side note: who is controversial for example because of anti-Semitic conspiracy postings) as bouncer in front of a drugstore stylized as a club was a big success. There is no statement from United We Stream about this guerrilla marketing cooperation, which must have been approved because the logo was used.

(By the way: How much was actually donated? The announcement was that within one (!) week 10.000-100.000 Likes have to be collected to donate 5.000-50.000 Euro.)

There is no sponsor list on United We Stream, but then for example in the Instagram Feed of the campaign you suddenly find a soda bottle of Lemonaid GmbH. The Lemonaid GmbH has an annual turnover of currently 14 million Euro and has donated a total of about 4 million Euro for social purposes since its foundation 10 years ago. They heavily market themselves as a company with a social purpose. At Lemonaid/Charitea you can find a press release about the UWS sponsoring, which states that the company donated 1 Euro per sold beverage crate (such a crate costs about 30 Euro) to United We Stream for three weeks and a gastronomy campaign (PayNowEatLater) – among others Bio Company, Edeka and Rewe added another Euro. To make sure that many people get the message, supermarkets and the poster company Ströer are joining in.

The advertising that UWS ran for this reason is not marked as such. In interviews, UWS tries to distance itself from gastronomy and entertainment and to represent clubs as cultural sites to be saved, therefore disguised advertising for a gastronomy campaign and a drink does not seem to be very helpful.

A club culture that was previously so concerned about its non-commercial look in times of need carelessly co-operates with sponsors and promotes disguised advertising and guerrilla marketing at bargain prices.

Two questions to United We Stream remain: Why didn’t you just set up a normal sponsorship instead of supporting these manipulative practices? And where is a statement about this in which you create transparency?

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