When hyphens matter: Hamburg football club’s ‘Anti-Fa’ merch raises ire from ‘Fa’ shower gel maker
St. Pauli, a second-division football club from Hamburg, embarked on a merchandising venture presenting the “Anti-Fa” – a collection of shower gel and soft cream meant to troll the right-wingers and support the leftist cause. The new gel “gives you wild freshness and a clear mind to continue living our anti-fascist stance,” they promised in a tweet.
But those four extra letters and the hyphen in the name of the merch didn’t go well with Henkel, and it has little to do with politics.
„Anti-Fa“ – gibt Dir die wilde Frische und einen klaren Kopf, um auch weiterhin unsere antifaschistische Haltung zu leben: St. Pauli Fans gegen Rechts! Und genau deshalb kommen auch Erlöse aus dem Verkauf von „Anti-Fa“ der Initiative Laut gegen Nazis Zugute. #fcsp#GegenRechtspic.twitter.com/kemYAp6ytw— FC St. Pauli (@fcstpauli) November 19, 2018
One of the company’s best-known shower gels is called “Fa” and it felt the St. Pauli’s very own body wash came uncomfortably close to their brand.
“The sale of a shower gel with the product name 'Anti-Fa,' or the combination of the word 'anti' with one of our brand names doesn’t suit us – regardless of the context in which it appears [or] the political attitude associated with it,” Henkel AG responded on Twitter.
Der Verkauf eines Duschgels mit dem Produktnamen „Anti-Fa“ bzw. Verbindung des Begriffs „Anti“ mit einem unserer Markennamen ist grundsätzlich nicht in unserem Sinne–ganz unabhängig davon, in welchen Kontext dies gestellt wird / welche politische Haltung damit verbunden ist (2/4)— Henkel (@henkel_de) November 22, 2018
To be on the safe side, the company underlined “our Fa brand is available in many countries worldwide” and said it “has always stood for diversity, tolerance & openness to the world.”
It also vowed to defend the “Fa” brand and threatened to take legal actions if necessary.
St. Pauli’s merch was predictably met with little praise by Alternative for Germany, the country’s largest right-wing party. Martin Hess, the party member, accused the club of siding “left-wing extremist group” which is associated with “massive attacks — sometimes even armed attacks — staged against police officers.”
However, St. Pauli CEO Andreas Rettig hailed “our creative marketing and merchandising department,”telling Bild newspaper: “If such people from that party get upset, we’ve done something right.”
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