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… was not confined to publishing our 16-volume FSB-Edition in the 1990s. Spiegel readers (and more besides) have been better informed on the subject ever since we became a talking point with a much-noted advertising campaign in that weekly news periodical.
The elite of the German advertising trade – in the form of the Art Directors Club for Germany (ADC) – watched spellbound as an, until then, completely unknown makers of unsung common-or-garden products sought to draw attention to itself and its products every week with wordy third-of-a-page ads that seemed to break every rule in the book. The little-known normative deviant became a trendsetter. In the very first advertising break following 24 weekly contributions, readers of the relevant publications protested and wanted to know when the show would be back on the road. Our brief essays had started to hook their audience.
In March 1998, FSB’s then CEO Jürgen W. Braun was able to pick up the tab for this audacious foray. In typical style, our Lord of the Handles (and just elected customer of the year) was unable to resist using the occasion to extol the merits of his frequently belittled product: holding up a handle he had somehow smuggled onto the rostrum, he urged the advertising gurus present to show their appreciation for the artefact by briefly rising from their seats, which they duly proceeded to do amidst much merriment.
We issued the hundred best handle stories in a bound volume in 1999. As a “publishers with a sideline in manufacturing door handles” (as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung dubbed us), it was a matter of honour for us to speedily follow the first edition up with a second, which was likewise soon sold out.