For well over a year now, the bottle labels for the Tucher Bräu beer brand have included a neutral headline in silhouette style instead of a head showing a male, black person. The amended presentation was discussed in detail in an article recently published in German. The Frankish private brewery in Tucher now explains exclusively in German what the redesign entails.
The debate over racism in communication design, as evidenced by examples such as the Washington Football Team, Ben’s Original or Mohrenbräu, is currently being conducted more intensely than ever before. This is good, because discrimination does not just happen on the streets or on social media. Images, signs and symbols used in advertising / marketing can also send out messages with racist connotations, whatever their intent. Good intentions do not automatically mean well done. It is important to talk about this, with each other, not just about each other. Because the topic is likely to keep the creative industry busy for a long time.
I was interested in the background of the redesign of “Tucher-Mohr”, which is why I contacted the private brewery with questions. Kai Eschenbacher, Head of Marketing / PR at Tucher Private Brewery, explains in detail in an interview what made the brewery redesign “Tucher-Mohr”. At the same time, the brewery also explains why the three silhouettes in the new main sign differ from each other.
To what extent is the revision of the main sign marked by the debate that has intensified in recent years on the subject of racism?
Eschenbacher / Tucher private brewery: Of course, we have always followed the discussions about representations of black people on city coats of arms, in brand logos and company names. Although no demands were made on us immediately prior to the audit, we have addressed the issue and actively implemented a redesign. We do not want to disturb or hurt anyone with our logo.
In the context of the press release published by Tucher Bräu on the latest redesign (2021), the adaptation of “Mohren” has not been explicitly addressed. Was this a conscious decision? If so, what were the reasons?
Eschenbacher / Tucher private brewery: Our press release simply had a different focus: it was about the national roll-out of our Tucher wheat beer series and the changes that were most evident in this context (new bottle shape, Euro instead of NRW containers, in new recyclable label boxes and forced origin identification with the blue white coat of arms associated with the Frankish state colors red and white).
It is also very important: with our Tucher wheat beer, the addition is “EHEM. KÖNIGLICH-BAVARIAN WEIZENBRÄUHAUS” for the great Nuremberg wheat brewing tradition, which has its origins in 1672 with the then bourgeois municipal wheat brewery. Under the first Bavarian king, Maximilian I, it was ennobled in 1806 as “the royal Bavarian wheat brewery”. A royal brewery that really knew how to brew fine wheat beers – there was nothing like it anywhere else in Bavaria. Our Tucher wheat beer, which is unique in its kind, follows this tradition.
The changed Tucher umbrella brand and company logo were not in focus and were therefore not the message.
Due to the slightly different shape of the silhouettes, a detailed look at the new main image gives the impression that different heads are depicted. Is this impression conscious on the part of Tucher Bräus? For example, to give the viewer more room for interpretation?
Eschenbacher / Tucher private brewery: To explain the background to you in detail: Our Tucher private brewery has been associated with the patrician family that gave it its name since 1855 and also bears Saint Mauritius from the family coat of arms in its symbol.
Saint Mauritius is therefore a symbol of our connection to the von Tucher family. He plays a central role in their coat of arms. It is part of our tradition and soul of the brand. And as a Christian martyr and patron saint of the church, he is an indisputable person and figure in history.
What applies to the person or symbol “Saint Mauritius” no longer applies to the same extent to the way it is represented: The representations that show him as a person with black skin in the family coat of arms, in our pictogram and also in Nuremberg the cityscape was sometimes seen critically. Even though these representations were mostly based on historical models and illustrations that portrayed him as a black man due to ignorance of his origins in present-day Egypt due to his descent from the African continent, and from which the “ant” finally became the “ant” “.
We had also shown Saint Mauritius in our icon as a person with black skin and then decided without pressure to make a change.
However, it was also clear to us that it was not an option to ban Saint Mauritius and thus our connection to the von Tucher family. Not only did we find it too easy to bravely transform him from a black man into a white man or Egyptian – it would also have been a transformation of history: to refer to a saint who was ascribed a certain appearance in an undisclosed time, but then presented it in a completely different way by voting for him, we felt just as wrong and ultimately dishonest.
Added to this: There are many friends of the symbol. People who associate it with tradition, a brand they love, a delicious beer, in short: a lot of positive things – and who also do not want to do without its presentation, as market research has shown us several times.
We have therefore taken a path that – we hope – will take everyone on the journey.
What is Tucher Bräu’s intention with the change that has been made to replace the figure, who is obviously dark-skinned and masculine, with a neutral representation?
Eschenbacher / Tucher private brewery: We have found a solution that does justice to the changing portrayal of Saint Mauritius in history from the Middle Ages to the present day, it continues and at the same time takes into account the issues of our time.
We have retained the typical head of the Tucher coat of arms, based on the design elements on a mural of the eponymous family in the Tucher castle, but then presented them in a very reduced form and in a silhouette – that is, as a paper carving with a 3D effect.
This redesign does not use clichés or breathe an outdated spirit of the times and thus does not involve any definition: everyone can see what he / she wants in this paper-cut silhouette. A white or Egyptian Saint Mauritius, as assumed in recent historical research. Or a black patron saint as he went down in history.
And that’s just a good solution: Everyone can see what he / she associates with it. We believe this is the greatest form of tolerance: to let everyone have what they love. To accept that there is never only one side of things. And to give everyone their very own and individual room for interpretation.
Which agency did Tucher Bräu work with on the redesign?
Eschenbacher / Tucher private brewery: It’s no secret that we’ve been working with Bloom (Nuremberg) for many years, including the relaunch of our Tucher wheat beer range. We came up with the idea for our modified brand and company logo internally, based on the mural by the von Tucher family, which we also coordinated closely with before implementation.
– The interview was conducted by Achim Schaffrinna –