Selling Hitler: propaganda and the Nazi brand

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Abstract

In this article we argue that Nazism functioned as a brand, and that this is key to our understanding of the extraordinary success of the Hitler regime in galvanising German public opinion. Nazis understood and manipulated the power of the brand, creating what amounts to a parallel universe of imagery and symbolism. The integuments of this brand strategy were the idea of Hitler himself and his projection, the stress on solidarity, the proclamation of a modernist Utopia with ancient accents, and the construction of an existential threat to the German way of life. But underpinning these were the deployment of what have become classic marketing concepts, such as targeting and segmentation, and a perceptive comprehension of the idea of packaging. Beyond this the regime was anchored in a kind of banality of ordinariness, it looked, at many levels, like a normal Western society and this element was made more credible by the promotion of a vigorous consumer culture. In many ways the Nazis were ahead of their time, masters of such political marketing arts as spin and rapid rebuttal. The fact that all this was done in the service of the most monstrous empire that was ever created, whose lasting legacy to the human race was its unique pictography of genocide, must alert us to the more sinister ends to which political marketing can be perverted.

Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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