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The Kärcher brand fights for its good reputation against French politicians

[kanews-highlight] THAT’S WHAT IT’S ABOUT

• French presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse wants to “clean the suburbs with Kärcher.”
• Now the Kärcher brand is fighting back against the use of the name for political purposes.
• The brand name should not be associated with an anti-human image.
• The incident shows that the Kärcher brand has become the symbol for all high-pressure cleaners. [/kanews-highlight]

Valérie Pécresse

French presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse wants to “clean the suburbs with Kärcher.” Her statement is meeting resistance, and not just politically: German cleaning and gardening equipment manufacturer Kärcher is fighting back against the use of its name for political purposes.

“The Kärcher brand is not the figurehead of a political party, but the exclusive property of the Kärcher companies,” the company wrote in a statement. The inappropriate use of the brand name is “all the more harmful” because it establishes links to “violence and insecurity.” After all, the high-pressure cleaner is seen in France as a symbol of the fight against crime in social hotspots.

Sarkozy has already angered Kärcher

Nicolas Sarkozy

Pécresse is not the first politician to use the name Kärcher in a political statement. In 2005, later French President Nicolas Sarkozy said during a visit to a Paris suburb that he wanted to remove “the scum with Kärcher.”

Even then, Kärcher complained, as the “Süddeutsche” writes. In 2017, the company then wrote a letter to all presidential candidates to take action against terms such as “karchériser” or “karchérisation,” derivatives of “kärchern,” entering political parlance.

Company distances itself professionally

Last year, the company also ran large ads: “Kärcher wants to clear its name from politics.” It was no use. That’s why Kärcher has now written again. With this, the company has acted correctly, says Sarah, Seyr, marketing expert from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

“The brand name is used in a context that paints a misanthropic picture. That the company wants to distance itself from this is clear.” By issuing a written request, Kärcher chose the professional route, he said.

The company could also have launched a counter-campaign with posters and the like directed against the politicians. But that would be a dangerous path, according to Seyr: “Something like that can quickly backfire and lead to a shitstorm.”

Brand is symbolic of high-pressure cleaners

The Kärcher brand has not yet suffered any damage to its image as a result of the French politicians’ statements. The connection between the political message and the brand is too loose for that, he said. “The important thing now is that the brand name is not used in such contexts for a long time,” explains Seyr.

But there is something good about the incident: it shows how strong the brand already is. “Kärcher has become a symbolic image for high-pressure cleaners,” Seyr says. That’s the goal of every brand, he adds. Just as, for example, Tempo stands for all handkerchiefs or OB represents tampons.

[kanews-highlight] That’s Kärcher:
Kärcher is a manufacturer of cleaning equipment and systems. The company is headquartered in Winnenden, Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The family-owned company was founded in 1935 by Alfred Kärcher in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. Today, Kärcher operates 130 companies in 73 countries and employs 13,500 people. In 2020, the company generated 2.721 billion euros. [/kanews-highlight]

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