July 23rd 2020

From scandal rapper to moralizer

Düsseldorf's nightlife has awakened again. If you visit the old town on the weekend, you will see a familiar picture: dense crowds, crowded streets and party-loving young people on the Rhine steps. There is no trace of Corona, compulsory masks or distance regulations. The admonishing finger is directed primarily at young people who celebrate illegal parties on the banks of the Rhine.


To ensure that Düsseldorf doesn't become the next stop, Mayor Thomas Geisel is now bringing Düsseldorf's scandalous rapper Farid Bang on board. This unexpected collaboration is creating high waves of outrage. Rightly so, because it is unclear what exactly qualifies the scandalous rapper to be a moral apologist, in addition to misogynistic, violence-glorifying and anti-Semitic text passages.

An official statement on the selection of the representative has so far remained absent. The rapper's controversial image is well known, not least because of the Echo scandal 2018. What makes him nevertheless attractive as an ambassador is his access to his fans. However, the fact that the celebrating youths are also a target group to be reached by the rapper is not factually proven and leaves the stale aftertaste of racist speculation. Geisel himself refers to the target group as a parallel society whose link to the scandalous rapper is his migrant background. With this, Düsseldorf's mayor is moving on very thin ice, especially in current times. With such a, I would almost say daring, decision, the shitstorm comes not only expected, but also rightly.

As a market researcher, I believe it is fundamentally sensible to target every form of communication precisely, to identify personas and to analyze all possible touchpoints. Based on valid and reliable figures, data and facts, you can also make difficult decisions and explain them in a comprehensible way. But whether Farid Bang really meets the assumed target group conformity cannot be said without an actual empirical survey. And making a gut decision is neither evidence-based, nor diplomatic, let alone sensible.

Die Welt comments on this in their article of 07/22 as follows: "You can criticize this, but you can also accept it as reality. There is probably no one who can reach those young people who celebrate illegal parties on the banks of the Rhine better than the rapper from Düsseldorf."

Probably there is no one who can reach the young people better than Farid Bang. But presumably the proportion of those who are outraged by the collaboration with Farid Bang, or (worse) feel discriminated against, outweighs the proportion of those who actually let it bring them to their senses.

Whether as a market researcher or politician; I would never rely on a "probably" for important decisions, but only on real opinions from real people. For example, you could have gone into the old town in the evening and asked those same young people about their taste in music. That would have given information about how present, credible and convincing Farid Bang really is and which advantages, but also disadvantages a cooperation would entail.

But, as I like to say, if you don't want to hear, you have to feel.

Herbert Höckel

Herbert Höckel is a managing partner here at moweb research GmbH. He has been a market researcher for more than 25 years. In 2004 he founded moweb GmbH, which he is still the owner today. moweb from Düsseldorf operates internationally and is one of the first German market research institutes specializing in digital processes.

You are welcome to purchase his book "Customer Centricity Mindset ® - Really Understand Customers, Master Disruption Successfully" here.

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