Content meets techno: What marketing can learn from this relationship

An inter­view with the mak­ers of com­ic Hotze, Jens Bring­mann and Valentin Kopet­z­ki from BRINGMANN & KOPETZKI.

Con­tent remains one of the hottest top­ics in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Only when the right con­tents are con­veyed at the right time, across the right chan­nel, to the right per­son, can the often-cit­ed cus­tomer expe­ri­ence real­ly be trans­lat­ed into action. Two fel­lows that advanced the topic–already back in the ana­logue world–are Jens Bring­mann and Valentin Kopet­z­ki from BRINGMANN & KOPETZKI. With their com­ic char­ac­ter “Hotze” and the series of the same name, they grew to become cult fig­ures of the elec­tron­ic music scene in Ger­many and inter­na­tion­al­ly from the mid-1990s, and their rep­u­ta­tion still holds today. “Hotze” gained fame above all through the tech­no mag­a­zine Groove and the close sym­bio­sis with for­mer cult-club “Stammheim,”. Mar­keters can also learn from Jens’ and Valentin’s keen intu­ition for the desires and expec­ta­tions of their crowd.

Hel­lo Jens, hel­lo Valentin. Tell us a lit­tle about your time as par­ty organ­is­ers and when and how you had the idea to cre­ate the Hotze comic?

Jens Bring­mann: It was all quite inno­cent at first. I had been cre­at­ing fly­ers for the cul­ture-fac­to­ry Salz­mann in Kas­sel [Ger­many] while work­ing as an intern [com­ment: Kas­sel is a two-hour dri­ve from Frank­furt], when an organ­is­er pulled out at the last minute. Sud­den­ly I was offered the chance to organ­ise the par­ty, but at the time I still had a lot to do for a dif­fer­ent project. Togeth­er with Valentin we got togeth­er with some friends who already had some expe­ri­ence in organ­is­ing events and from there we main­ly took care of the adver­tis­ing for the club. It real­ly went well. Then there was anoth­er par­ty and anoth­er. It had its own momen­tum and at some point we thought “Hey let’s take over the whole club”. The whole thing just took off when big names like Lau­rent Gar­nier start­ed to play in our club.

Valentin Kopet­z­ki: The com­ic-style fly­ers and adverts that we dis­trib­uted all over Ger­many played their part in the ini­tial suc­cess. At that time tech­no-visu­als con­sist­ed of clean 3D-art­work, so we were real­ly some­thing out of the ordi­nary. We thought that comics could trans­port the char­ac­ter of a par­ty much more emo­tion­al­ly. The mag­a­zine Groove thought like­wise, ask­ing us to illus­trate in a sim­i­lar style nightlife anec­dotes that the edi­tors brought with them from their appoint­ments. W_e quick­ly realised that we couldn’t real­ly draw events par­tic­u­lar­ly life-like if we hadn’t expe­ri­enced them our­selves. So we decid­ed to cre­ate a char­ac­ter that could tell of our own per­son­al expe­ri­ence: Hotze was born._

In an inter­view, star-DJ Chris Liebing once said, “If I want­ed to tell my granny what I do at the week­end I’d sim­ply show her the Hotze com­ic.” How did you man­age to cap­ture the elec­tron­ic lifestyle so real­is­ti­cal­ly and true to life? What is ‘good con­tent’ for you, in this context?

JB: It is always impor­tant to know the tar­get group. We knew ours rather well because we were the tar­get group actu­al­ly. We organ­ised par­ties because we – damn it – want­ed to be at the best par­ties. And we always tried to keep Hotze unbrand­ed and not refer direct­ly to the Stammheim. But the look was of course sim­i­lar to our par­ty fly­ers, so at some point peo­ple made the con­nec­tion themselves.

VK: In this sense we real­ly drew just for our­selves and were free from any restric­tions. The key was the authen­tic­i­ty. We drew our own lives – a bit exag­ger­at­ed of course. And the peo­ple recog­nised what they saw. So it wasn’t some­one com­ing in from the out­side and act­ing it. If you’re not that lucky there are only two options: Either you work your way right down to the bot­tom of it or get hold of peo­ple who know the tar­get group.



What has changed for you since then? How hard was it for you to leave the ana­logue world and enter the dig­i­tal world?

JB: It’s cer­tain­ly true that digi­ti­sa­tion has made it more dif­fi­cult to get atten­tion these days. Today read­ers are over­loaded with comics, memes and oth­er visu­al con­tent. That makes it that bit more dif­fi­cult for illus­tra­tors like us to get noticed. But the media change has also brought pos­i­tive change: in the 1990s, adver­tis­ing was often entire­ly humour­less. Now that social media have made it clear for all to see that humour is impor­tant for the suc­cess of con­tent, it’s alright to draw a lit­tle bit more sub­ver­sive­ly now and then.

VK: It makes no dif­fer­ence con­tent-wise for which chan­nel or which medi­um we draw. The way of dis­tri­b­u­tion is not impor­tant because if a sto­ry works well on paper it will also work online. Tech­ni­cal­ly the pro­duc­tion has become much eas­i­er. While we used to dri­ve across town to get our fin­ished work to the edi­to­r­i­al office to make the print­ing dead­line, now all we have to do is send JPEG-file — no hassle.


Many mar­keters think of text first when they think of con­tent, fol­lowed by video. Pic­tures are still neglect­ed by many. What would you say to these mar­keters? What are the advan­tages of pic­to­r­i­al content?

JB: We love pic­tures and always rec­om­mend them because it’s sim­ply the eas­i­est and most direct way to trans­port our ideas. That doesn’t mean we refuse to work with video. For the music video “Bang Bang” by Nena & Tok Tok we already demon­strat­ed with a flash clip that we are also up for the mov­ing pic­ture. In prac­tice we think pic­tures just have more advan­tages. In many sit­u­a­tions, like on the train, users do not start a video with sound. To then gain their atten­tion, mean­ing­ful pic­tures, head­lines and eye-catch­ing pic­to­r­i­al ele­ments are far more relevant.

VK: When it comes to the style of the pic­ture, there is no uni­ver­sal for­mu­la for atten­tion-grab­bing con­tent. Whether we empha­sise the colours–to arouse emotions–or keep every­thing black and white to cre­ate a more dra­mat­ic effect – it’s always all about the mes­sage.



The trick to cre­at­ing good con­tent is to con­tin­u­ous­ly check your­self, devel­op new, attrac­tive for­mats – because the crowd changes too. Even Hotze has also moved on. How did you iden­ti­fy these changes and let them flow into your cre­ative work?

JB: I see that music con­sump­tion has changed. Ear­li­er the tech­no scene was less per­me­able regard­ing music taste. You lis­tened to tech­no and snubbed all oth­er gen­res. Today it is quite com­mon for our read­ers to lis­ten to tech­no in the club and pop music at home. This is also accom­pa­nied by a dif­fer­ent atti­tude towards life. For us to be able to reflect that, it’s quite impor­tant to be able to take a cer­tain role dis­tance.

VK: But it’s not as if we are com­plete­ly root­ed in the tech­no scene. We also worked for hip-hop bands like Fünf Sterne deluxe. Any­way, we have been in the busi­ness for over 20 years now, so it’s inevitable that you make con­tact with oth­er music gen­res and lifestyles. We see our­selves rather as pop-cul­ture illus­tra­tors and not as tech­no specialists.


How do you pro­mote your­selves today? Do you still organ­ise par­ties or do you con­cen­trate sole­ly on illustrating?

VK: We still go to a par­ty now and then, nat­u­ral­ly a bit less fre­quent­ly because of our age. We only step us as organ­is­ers for release par­ties for our comics – and even then we book friends of ours who organ­ise events.

JB: Draw­ing is def­i­nite­ly our main activ­i­ty. It’s inter­est­ing that we always get assign­ments from peo­ple who danced on loud­speak­ers at one of our par­ties and today are deci­sion-mak­ers in com­pa­nies. Recent­ly, for exam­ple, we designed a mas­cot for a pro­duc­er of fork­lifts. That was fun and excit­ing – but not fore­see­able 20 years ago.



What advice would you give to deci­sion-mak­ers from the busi­ness, such as mar­keters, who are think­ing about new con­tent intend­ed to ‘pick up’ the customer?

VK: Here we come back to the start of our talk. Ide­al­ly as a mar­keter, you are part of the tar­get group your­self and know the needs intu­itive­ly. Oth­er­wise it’s help­ful to get advice from peo­ple who know the scene and the atti­tude to life bet­ter than you.

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Berti Kol­bow-Lehradt and René Weber from FAKTOR 3 con­duct­ed the interview.