Anti-Bild campaign mars paper’s birthday stunt

Populist newspaper Bild made it into the record books for its 60th anniversary edition at the weekend, distributing a record 41 million free copies to German households. But not everybody shared in celebrating the tabloid’s birthday.

Anti-<i>Bild</i> campaign mars paper's birthday stunt
Photo: DPA

Germany’s bestselling paper had planned to send a special free edition to the whole of the country on Saturday to celebrate 60 years since Bild first went to print on June 24, 1952.

It also claimed the operation would set the record for the biggest distribution of a free special edition of a newspaper.

Yet not everyone was willing to raise a glass to the paper, whose sensationalist style often proves divisive, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper wrote on Saturday.

An “Everyone against Bild” counter-campaign organised by Berlin students united 240,000 people across the country in explicitly refusing their permission to deliver the paper, presenting the Axel Springer publication with a logistical challenge.

German law forbids the delivery of circulars to anyone who has expressed their refusal, according to the Frankfurter Rundschau, a rule that if broken is punishable with a fine.

Germany’s 50,000 postal workers were under strict instructions not to deliver the free paper to those who had refused delivery. And Bild send those who said they did not want a paper, a posh-looking letter on thick paper in a big red envelope.

The individually addressed letter bent over backwards to be polite, stressing that not only was publisher Axel Springer specifically not sending a copy of the newspaper as requested, all the person’s data would be erased.

And in case the person had not specifically asked for no Bild, they could call a free hotline and get a copy, the letter said.

A hard-core group of Bild-haters countered by refusing permission to deliver the letter.

Organisers of the anti-Bild campaign seemed happy with the outcome.

“The resonance completely exceeded our expectations,” Yves Venedey from Campact, one of the campaign organisers, told Frankfurter Rundschau.

“It looks as if in the majority of cases [the campaign] worked,” added Venedey, and said that by Saturday afternoon there had only been isolated complaints.

In the 60 years since Bild was founded by German media mogul Axel Springer the paper has risen to become one of the world’s most powerful newspapers.

With over 12 million readers and sales of three million copies a day, its readership figures are topped only by the Japanese press.

The Local/AFP/jlb/hc

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