The NPD (German Nationalist Party) invited its supporters to rally in Weimar on 1 September 2001 to commemorate the beginning of the Second World War. Spontaneously, a civic counter-movement decided to peacefully prevent this deployment from happening; if that shouldn’t be possible, the citizens of Weimar then intended to at least distinctively articulate their disapproval.
The old East-German traffic light-man – affectionately re-named ‘Herr Rossi’ – was selected as the mascot of the protest, and a campaign was created around him: postcards, posters, buttons, flags, banners, life-size characters, a movie trailer, and even a Herr Rossi-song. All products were distributed for free through the local media, to enable the general public to participate in the activities.
As a result, on 1 September Herr Rossi had taken over the entire city and was visibly present all around the city. If the NPD did come, they wouldn’t get a single picture taken without Herr Rossi in its background. As media coverage of their symbolic march was all they were looking for, their intention was thus highjacked in a positive way.
On 24 August 2001 the NPD called its demonstration off, due to the ‘unexpected impact of the counter-movement in Weimar’.
The event spread across a variety of (self-organised) activities and publications, including a cinema ad produced by the Chair for Media Events: