DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Tired of suffering public beatings, the German PVC industry has struck back with a slick, multimillion-dollar ad campaign that makes an emotional defense of vinyl.
The campaign, which began in September 1997, features ads with a child floating in the water using inflatable vinyl arm bands; a hospital emergency-room scene with a PVC bag; and a vinyl raft bouncing about in stormy weather.
``If you are talking to people who do not work with PVC, you have to appeal to emotion,'' said Werner Preusker, managing director of PVC Plus, which conducts the campaign. ``The ads show an important product in an emotional situation that explains the benefits.''
Preusker declined to say specifically how much money the Bonn, Germany-based organization spends, but said it was less than 5 million deutsche marks ($3 million) a year on ads. A related research organization, PVC and Environment, also has an annual budget of less than DM10 million ($6 million), he said.
The effort is funded by the German vinyl industry, including BASF AG, BFGoodrich Chemical Deutschland GmbH and EVC Deutschland GmbH. Officials spoke at an interview at the K'98 show in Dusseldorf.
The campaign is targeted at executives and managers who make decisions to use or avoid PVC, and features print advertisements in major German magazines like Der Spiegel and Wirtschaftswoche, which is similar to the Economist, and in magazines for engineers and the construction industry.
The ads and other promotional pieces all look as if they were designed with MTV in mind, with short texts, bold colors and movement.
Preusker said German industry was ``definitely too late'' in starting the advertising effort, which he attributed to businesses not being greatly affected by the public discussion.
But he said the campaign was sparked by questions about vinyl that the PVC film industry started to get from customers, including grocery stores. They wanted answers to allegations that PVC had environmental and recycling problems, he said.
The group took several polls before the campaign and found a very divided Germany.
``The public is concerned about recycling and toxic fumes from fires, but the public is convinced PVC has a future,'' he said.
Opinions from consumers and the targeted business audience were the same, he said. Public concern does not seem to have translated into changes in spending. PVC Plus figures suggest vinyl is growing in Germany and the public continues to purchase products like vinyl siding. German PVC production grew 9 percent in 1997. Vinyl windows hit a 52 percent market share in 1997.
More-recent polling shows that the ads have not changed public opinion, but the public is aware of them, he said. Some ads, like the child in the pool, generate sympathy, he said. It is too soon to expect that the ads will change minds, and the group intends to continue advertising for at least two years, Preusker said.
Beyond mass-media ads, the group also prepared a magazine for 25,000 business people and does other direct mailings.