When the Sex Stops: Berlin Sex Club goes Digital

A short movie by Airinë Nuqi, Stephen Benkert, and Raf Yengibaryan (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Patrik Baab.

With the lockdown restrictions in place as preventative measures against the Corona pandemic, sex clubs in Berlin have been forced to adapt in new ways – with an idea on how to open safely in the future. Despite the fact that the State of Berlin has allocated funds to support the clubs, in particular by subsidizing the rent and paying up to 60% of the clubs pre-pandemic income, the difficulties that the nightlife industry is facing now are very challenging and tough. The Berlin Senate allocates about 11 million euros a month to preserve the clubs and the jobs they provide, but what does this mean for such a huge industry like the Berlin nightlife industry?

The famous sex club “Insomnia”, a place where adults, in pre-corona times, came to dance, drink and have fun and of course have sex like all many clubs in Berlin, was also forced to close its doors to visitors in early March 2020. Dominique, the owner of the club, and her team have found a very creative, albeit not very optimal solution to alleviate financial difficulties and try to keep the insomnia sex club in business. In addition to regular weekend streams, where techno sounds and a limited number of people dance live, the club team also decided to bring sex itself to the screens of their visitors and earn income from it. Despite this temporary solution, Dominique, like all representatives of the night industry, is very hopeful for another solution – rapid testing.

Our group met with the club owner, Dominique, through connections, and we were able to conduct a sight seeing of the club the same day. Following this, we visited the club to witness and record one of their streaming nights, as well as interview the owner of the club, tech support and a performer. In addition to this, our team managed to talk to a representative from the Club Commission, who gave us more insight into the current survival strategy of some Berlin nightclubs.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

German Corona WARN App Investigation

A short movie by William Bryan, Julia Merk, and Alice Preat (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Patrik Baab.

Germany’s Corona Warn app has battled misinformation and criticism on its way to lackluster adoption and app download numbers. In our documentary report, we followed Valerie Cyrkel, a Corona Warn app user and COVID-19 patient, as she detailed her illness and subsequent frustrations with the app and its many shortcomings. Our goal with the investigation was to uncover the truth about how the app works and learn whether or not it poses a privacy risk to German citizens. Could the app help build an authoritarian government oversight system?

Our group got off to a great start and managed to schedule plenty of interviews both in person and via Zoom for the investigation. Many of our interviewees were gracious enough to put up with filming outside in the cold and wind to avoid the infection risk of meeting indoors. We interviewed scientists, hackers, privacy experts, and personal rights advocates to get to the bottom of the story. It didn’t make the final cut, but we also spoke with ex-pats from Australia and South Korea to hear their thoughts on how Germany is handling the pandemic compared to their home countries.

Through our reporting, we discovered that there is zero privacy risk in using the app, but it’s still far from effective in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. We also learned what changes could be made to make the app truly effective in informing the public about the virus and combatting the pandemic.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

Tesla’s Gigafactory

A short movie by Tony Pürschel, Leonard Frick, and Hannah Atteneder (MA Digital Journalism) produced as part of the module Media Production with lecturer Patrik Baab.

The construction of the Gigafactory, the first car factory of Tesla in Europe, in a small village in Brandenburg, Grünheide, has caused euphoria as well as negative sentiment over the past year. The creation of new jobs in Brandenburg pleases not only the mayor of Grünheide, Arne Christiani, but also Brandenburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Jörg Steinbach. Still, there is pervasive criticism. Many citizens of Grünheide are not enthusiastic about part of the local forest being cut down, and believe that the water level of the lake nearby is decreasing due to the factory’s construction. Dierk Hirschel, trade union secretary for Ver.di, also criticizes Tesla’s future employment and union conditions. This short documentary presents the diverse opinions and views on Tesla’s Gigafactory with the help of various interviews. It also provides general information on the first Gigafactory of Tesla in Europe.

To watch the short movie, follow the link below:

Guest Lecture with Collabary from Zalando

Guest Lecture with Stefano Balestra and Anna Meyfarth from Collabary, Zalando Marketing Services’s self-service platform matching brands & influencers

A blog by Airinë Nuqi

In the Winter Semester 2020/21, Stefano Balestra (Director of Marketing Strategy & Operations) and Anna Meyfarth (Marketing Lead at Collabary) of Zalando Marketing Services (ZMS), gave a guest lecture at HMKW on the subject of ZMS’s influencer marketing platform, Collabary,  a platform that begun as a startup within Zalando Marketing Services in 2016 connecting brands with influencers. This guest lecture was held as a part of the “New Trends in PR” module taught to third semester PR and Digital Marketing master students, by Prof. Dr. Kim Murphy.

With numerous years of experience in the industry, Stefano and Anna provided the students with a direct insight into the services of ZMS, how they are successfully matching brands with influencers and helping brands to run influencer campaigns. As part of the lecture, Stefano described four of the key trends in influencer marketing that he and his marketing team have witnessed over the past year, and which will continue to shape influencer marketing in 2021:

Credibility & Creativity

The pandemic has had a profound impact on all our lives and one knock on effect is that consumers increasingly want to see authenticity and substance from brands and influencers. According to Stefano, they saw credibility and creativity evolving through 2020, as a result of the pandemic and other global events like the Black Lives Matter movement.  In terms of authenticity and credibility, people want to hear from influencers who take a stance on important social and political  issues.  Over the past year, Zalando and Collabary sought out influencers who will be honest about their values and, most importantly, give a strong opinion even if only some segments of their followers agree with them. Faced with the pandemic, many brands had to also ask themselves over the past year: “Is this the right time to do marketing?”  and how can we do it in a way that is credible and authentic. Stefano explained how Nike successfully confronted this dilemma, coming up with the “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world” slogan, accompanied by workouts people could join, engaging them from their homes, and helping them to feel part of a community while in isolation. 

Change & Tech Platforms 

The second trend that has emerged over the past year and which will continue is the evolution of tech platforms. Stefano observed how on the one hand social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are noticeably shifting towards more commerce, on the other hand ecommerce platforms like Zalando are increasingly becoming more social. Stefano also described how TikTok is trying to set itself apart from other platforms by focusing increasingly on topics like health and education. In 2021, YouTube will most likely try to compete with TikTok with the introduction of more short form video content.  Brands need to closely monitor these changes and ask themselves where will their customers be and on which platforms? If brands want to stay relevant, they need to keep up! 

Customer-Centricity & Immediacy

The students also got an insight into how live shopping and livestreaming is making a comeback in the digital age (another consequence of  the pandemic). While live shopping  has existed for some time, certain influencers are selling products, whether for a brand or their own, to live audiences at record speed. “The customer wants access, immediacy and exclusivity,” Stefano says, “this is something to look out for, since people want direct access.” He described how brands and influencers are all trying to  “tap into” this type of interaction, where you can provide your audience and potential buyers with the sense of urgency through, for example, count-down timers and such. 

The Rise of AI

The final trend is the rise of AI and the virtual influencer (e.g. LiL Miquela). Brands reach out to influencers to promote them, but they know that this comes with giving up control and this scares them, as influencers are free to interpret a brand’s message however they choose. However over the past year, more companies and brands have started using virtual influencers and will most likely continue, over the next year, to engage with virtual influencers like Lil Miquela. He also expects that brands will start using AI to generate more marketing content, for example, generating whole scripts, stories.. While AI can be a great tool to use in marketing and brand promotion, it is also a topic that raises many social and ethical questions and has to be looked at closely.

If you are interested in learning more about Collabary see https://www.collabary.com/ or visit Zalando Marketing Services at https://zms.zalando.com/