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7 - Between Criticism and Innovation

Beer and Public Relations in the Weimar Republic

from Part III - Promoting Capitalism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2022

Moritz Föllmer
Affiliation:
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Pamela E. Swett
Affiliation:
McMaster University, Ontario
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Summary

The consumption of alcohol was widely criticized in the early Weimar years as wasteful of essential resources and as morally wrong. Teetotalists, social reformers, and high-ranking politicians demanded new restrictions on alcohol consumption. This anti-alcohol momentum caught the German brewing industry, which had greatly struggled during World War I, by surprise. The chapter looks at the challenges German brewers faced in the 1920s and their reactions to them. The German Brewers Association (Deutscher Brauer-Bund) tried to counter criticism with the help of pseudoscientific arguments regarding beer’s nutritious value. They also significantly increased their public relations efforts by adopting new methods of communication with consumers and legislators via paid newspaper articles, tradeshow exhibitions, and image films. Thus, the anti-alcohol and anticapitalist discourse led to new capitalist strategies. The chapter also sheds light on how industries criticized for producing “bad” products react to such criticism and adapt to changing circumstances.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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