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Journal cover: Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing

ISSN: 1755-750X

Online from: 2009

Subject Area: Marketing

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Flourishing in a dictatorship: Agfa's marketing and the Nazi regime

Document Information:
Title:Flourishing in a dictatorship: Agfa's marketing and the Nazi regime
Author(s):Hartmut Berghoff, (German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, USA), Berti Kolbow, (Institute of Economic and Social History, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany)
Citation:Hartmut Berghoff, Berti Kolbow, (2013) "Flourishing in a dictatorship: Agfa's marketing and the Nazi regime", Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 5 Iss: 1, pp.71 - 96
Keywords:Amateur photography, Chemical industries, Consumer goods marketing, Consumption, Dictatorship, Nazi Germany, Photographic industry, Photographic products, Political marketing
Article type:Case study
DOI:10.1108/17557501311293361 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors are indebted to Patricia Sutcliffe for translating this article into the English language.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand how Agfa, a division of IG Farben and Germany's leading producer of photographic equipment, adapted its marketing strategy to the new political environment created by the Nazi regime. This was a time when many consumer goods manufacturers suffered from the state-driven reallocation of resources favoring the armament industry. Agfa, however, expanded its production well into the war.

Design/methodology/approach – This case study is based on archival records of Agfa's sales department.

Findings – This paper shows that Hitler's armament drive left room for non-essential consumer goods such as cameras, film, and photographic paper as they fitted the regime's consumption policy, as well as its import and foreign exchange policy. A pioneer in marketing, Agfa was able to secure its growth strategy and its room to maneuver by focusing its product and promotion program on the socioeconomic needs of the “Volksgemeinschaft” and the “Four Year Plan”.

Originality/value – This paper sheds new light on the often-underestimated role of consumption during the “Third Reich.” Furthermore, it supports the evolutionary – rather than revolutionary – nature of the history of marketing practice in Germany, as Agfa's interwar marketing policy features many sophisticated modern elements prior to the “Marketing Revolution” of the 1960s.

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