Advertising and Self-Reference in the West German Newsreel Neue Deutsche Wochenschau in the 1950s and 1960s
The main function of the Wochenschau was to combine pictures and news. The reports of Neue Deutsche Wochenschau (NDW), first presented in February 1950, were aimed at supporting West Germany’s reintegration into the worldwide public sphere so that it could establish a new economic status. In the light of the new consumer climate which followed the currency reforms of 1948, product advertising and public relations in various media—especially film—became increasingly important. The forms of advertising in cinemas—commercials and slides—faced considerable disadvantages with regard to both their cost and effectiveness. In addition, spectators managed to avoid the advertisements by arriving late. In order to prevent this dilemma, brands and company logos were interspersed into the newsreels and names of products and companies were commented on in voiceovers.
This study outlines different types of hidden advertising in the NDW and demonstrates how advertising for film and cinema by the NDW was met with resistance by cinema owners who were concerned about the exhibition of newsreel advertisements for films offered by the competing cinemas. Nevertheless, NDW continued to include reports on film balls (festive meetings of the film industry’s community), festivals and premieres, especially when it shared a distributor with the newly released film being promoted. Furthermore, the newsreel used its own reports for self-promotion in an effort to assert itself against its competitors on the newsreel market and this chapter will consider the variety of these self-references and their alleged meaning for spectators. Through the exploration of both newsreel images and original documents (letters, reports, reviews), it will conclude by outlining the strong influence of commercial interests on the design of informative media.