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Wurstgate: Leveraging right-wing angst to sell more sausage

Christmas is a tough time in Germany. In America, of course, it’s a two-day celebration — the 25th and Black Friday. But here in Germany it’s an entire month of Advent Sundays, Nikolaus and mulled wine-inspired hangovers. So it’s little wonder Teutonic right-wingers are on edge. Even those of us on the left are as well. Last year a group of artists successfully trolled the country’s right wingers into believing Coca-cola (which marketing has fully attached to Weihnachten here) was against the far-right AfD party. What a hoot!

This year, Curry36 is having a go. The chain has already proved its marketing prowess because they give the impression they’re a a currywurst stand that’s been in Berlin since the Kaisers roamed free but in reality it’s only been around since 1980, kind of like David Hasselhoff. But yesterday on Facebook and Twitter, it announced that out of “diverse reasons” it would be renaming its traditional “Christmas Sausage” to “Winter Sausage”.

The reaction was swift and predictable: Right-wingers on social media saw it as just another insidious attack on Christmas, Christians and tradition. Just as with the guerilla Coca-Cola action last year, they and those who would protect the traditional German identity were swift to call for a boycott:

“Well then … luckily there are other snack bars. Happy declining sales. I’m outta here.”

“Too bad, but all the best anyway. We’ll be eating elsewhere in the future.”

(Thanks Volksverpetzer: I screengrabbed yer screengrab)

As the announcement picked up steam, the satire came out as well — there was a great story about a family who, every Christmas, drove through snow and ice to eat the Curry36 Christmas sausage and then took a dozen home in order to have enough to eat under the Christmas tree. Or another suggestion that to please the right, Curry36 could just rename it the “Wehrmachtwurst”. LÖLE, as my German friends say.

The whole trick? Here’s what Curry36 had to say: “Our regulars smelled the roast – pardon, the sausage – immediately: There never was a Christmas sausage and there (probably) will never be a Winter sausage at our place because the classic, organic and vegan versions means there’s already something for every taste.

Radioeins, a radio station, interviewed the man behind the provocation, manager Mirko Grosssman, and every major German media outlet picked up the story, an example of perfect PR and a counterpoint to the Gretagate disaster over at Deutsche Bahn last week. There’s a German saying that everything has just one end except a sausage: It has two. Right-wing snowflakes, unfortunately, seem to have none.

Can’t wait for next Christmas.

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