We’ve stopped what we are doing and creating your personalized BrandZ™ report, which will appear in your inbox soon.

Agenda hijacking

Agenda hijacking

Ideas to help burst the filter bubble

Stephan Friedrich

Strategy Director



Marco Hackmann



The information society strikes back: as we have now reached a point where the sheer volume of information available is already starting to overwhelm parts of a society. Many people are responding by excluding unwanted content through rigorous selection. The effects of this are particularly noticeable amongst young people.

For example, the range of interests of the under 30s has severely narrowed over the past 15 years, mainly because today’s youngsters have become used to searching for information on topics in which they are already interested. They live in a “filter bubble” of their own creation.

So how do we go about communicating with people (and future generations in particular) and appealing to them with our brands?

The challenge for companies is to get their brand messages past consumers’ filter bubbles and selective systems of perception, not by force, but by identifying all topics of interest to the public at large – then assigning the brand a role in the respective discourse.

Today, companies are expected to play an increasingly prominent role in socio-political issues. Those who get it right are rewarded with greater brand loyalty and increased motivation to buy.

Two brands that have already profited from this kind of “agenda hijacking” are IKEA and Commerzbank; , which have both focused on an issue that is already a matter of public interest. Their challenge was to use this interest to create momentum for the brand; they each achieved this in different ways.

The case of Commerzbank:

Summer 2019: the best female footballers are battling it out for the world championship title in France, yet no one in Germany is interested in the tournament or in the highly successful German team. Even worse, the players are subjected to prejudice and discriminatory remarks online before the championships even kicks off: “Women are just there to have babies ... they don’t belong on the pitch” was typical of the tone, and strongly reminiscent of the debates on equal pay and #metoo.

It was time for Commerzbank – Germany’s second-largest bank and sponsor of the women’s national team since 2008 – to take a stand against this. So instead of just running the usual sponsorship campaign with Commerzbank, we came up with the idea of giving the women’s national team a platform to raise awareness for the lack of appreciation – not only in the field of football, but in all areas of life.

With a bold and self-deprecating film, the players squared up to the haters while disarming preconceptions. Statements such as “We play for a nation that doesn’t even know our names” and “We don’t have balls, but we know how to use them” burnt into the nation’s hearts. In no time at all, the commercial was hailed a viral hit, with over 190 million gross contacts and PR value of €30 million. Newspapers and TV broadcasters from over 47 countries covered the campaign, which really seemed to hit a nerve. More and more prominent figures - and even German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier - took a stand and backed the campaign.

But that’s not all: the message conveyed by the commercial turned into a real movement, making the ponytail a powerful symbol of equality. Commerzbank thus came across not only as an advocate of women’s football, but also as a bank that more than lives up to its social responsibilities – creating a lasting, positive impact on the brand’s image.

The case of IKEA:

In 2018, the Swedish furniture giant realized that we should all start devoting more time to sleep – as 80 percent of German employees have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, yet, strangely enough, hardly anyone is doing anything about it. So, how could we make people realize the importance of tackling their sleep issues and that IKEA was the right partner for the job?

We came up with the idea of hijacking a favorite topic of young professionals – work-life balance – to make it clear to people how more sleep and not just more leisure time would make them happier and more relaxed. Under the slogan “For a better work-life-sleep balance”, we made IKEA’s voice heard not only in stores and through paid media, but also on Germany’s streets, in a demo, by collaborating with influencers, at the first work-life-sleep balance conference and in cooperation with Germany’s most influential newspapers.

The old marketing adage “Talk to people where they are (and where they are in the right mood)” has never been so true. The result: One-third of Germans have now heard about the work-life-sleep balance debate and now more than ever associate IKEA with the topic of sleep (and bedrooms).