Mary Dejevsky: Powerful messages coded in barriers and happy babies

Click to follow
The Independent Online

You can imagine the quandary any advertising agency would face: how to personalise, for electoral purposes, a national leader who has almost made a fetish of not personalising her office.

Yet it is the impression Angela Merkel has created of down-to-earth ordinariness and no-frills common sense that has won over an increasing number of German voters – especially women – and is her party's unique selling point in the 27 September general election.

This is surely why one of the first two television adverts released by her party, the CDU, concentrates entirely on Ms Merkel. The opening sequence shows her in Chancellor mode, soft focus head and shoulders superimposed on a long shot of the restored Reichstag. Message: Merkel and the German state are as one.

Further sequences show Germany's euphoria the night the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. The scenes of happy young people and their all-night party are followed by a lone cyclist cheerfully pedalling along the top of the barrier that had symbolised the east-west division of Europe. A smiling Merkel watches from the side. Overt and subliminal messages: Merkel – a former East German – presides over a successfully-united Germany. At one point a chuckling baby floats across the scene to signal the childless Chancellor's softer side.

And another clip: Merkel – full length profile this time – in characteristic dark trouser suit, strides to greet a posse of besuited businessmen entering her austere Chancellor's office. Into left field come shots of high-tech German building sites. Message: as the boss, she meets the men building modern Germany on more than equal terms.

Overall campaign pitch: this Hausfrau can do statesmanship, social policy and Vorsprung durch Technik. Don't agonise about party politics, vote Merkel.