Controversial cycling helmet advertisement divides opinion, sparks controversy in Germany

Controversial cycling helmet advertisement divides opinion, sparks controversy in Germany
Copyright German Transport Ministry
By Rachael Kennedy
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An advert released in Germany encouraging young cyclists to wear a helmet has divided opinions on its 'sexist' delivery and intentions.

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An advertisement encouraging young cyclists to wear protective helmets when on the road has divided opinion on social media following criticisms of "sexist" rhetoric.

The German, government-funded advert features young women and men in their underwear wearing helmets alongside the slogan: "Looks like shit. But saves my life."

One of the women is a participant in Germany's Next Top Model.

Maria Noichl, the head the women's wing for the German Social Democratic Party, told BILD newspaper that the advert was "embarrassing, stupid and sexist."

Germany's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Franziska Giffey, joined the conversation on Facebook, sharing a picture of herself wearing a helmet with the caption: "With the helmet is also clothes!"

However, Germany's road safety council (DVR) has expressed its support of the government's advert.

"Of course, such a campaign is always a matter of taste, but we are deliberately showing women and men," DVR CEO Christian Kellner said.

"It's important to reach the target group of young people because the helmet wearing rate in this age group is terribly low. We succeeded in doing that."

According to Germany's Transport Ministry, just 8% of cyclists between the ages of 17-30 wear a helmet.

Others involved in the discussion online pointed toward the advert's intended targets and purposes.

Global head of media relations at Siemens, Robin Zimmerman, said he believed the advertisement achieved its purpose.

"There you go: simple message," he wrote. "Well done. Emotional. And everybody is talking about it. Good advertising. Goal achieved."

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