The last of its kind - and we almost missed it
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The last of its kind - and we almost missed it

The final issue of the OTTO catalogue is going into print. And it’s provoking a wave of nostalgia and emotions - to the surprise of the in house communication team. A commentary from Martin Frommhold, Head of Corporate Communications at OTTO, for one thing.

11/22/2018 By Martin Frommhold Reading time: 3 Minutes
ARD, ZDF, Sat. 1 – to name just a few: for days now, the camera teams of the big TV channels have been coming and going at OTTO. Editors are calling up, writing emails and sending WhatsApp messages. And over 20 representatives from the media arrived at the Nuremburg Prinovis printers on Thursday morning. Why? We at Company Communications wondered too. The answer: because they want to be there for a historical event. We obviously underestimated its effect on the media: the printing of the last main OTTO catalogue.

What press spokesperson or communications officer hasn’t been there? Where the company has bags of excitement, the scoop is right there for the taking - and not a single editor is interested. Or you invite everyone to a press conference, paint the conference room over night, whip out some canapés - and then no one from the reputable media has the time or inclination to listen to the important company news.

But now this: as soon as we announced the cessation of the main catalogue by press release on 9th July, the ripple through the media was enormous. And they all wanted to know everything about us! Which supermodel was on the cover when and how often? How many pages have been printed in total since the 1950s? Did we really sell ponies (yes, in 1972 for 745 DM against advance payment) and lots more. Eh, hello? OTTO has been online since 1995, we are pretty digital, something of an E-commerce specialist and tech company, in fact. And now the catalogue, which has been getting thinner here for many years and which has been expected to come to an end again and again for 15 years, is suddenly the biggest news? Honestly: can someone out there please get that excited aboutour cool app?!

It was only when more and more editor’s offices signed on to cover the last print of our ‘big one’ (of their own accord!!!) that we finally realised what a media treasure we were sitting on. And we learned fast. That 750 page strong main catalogues might not be sought after in our digital world any more (where, if I haven’t mentioned yet, we are totally hip!), their departure is still blooming emotional for many of its contemporaries.

Because your own grandma made the collective purchase order for the village. Or your whole family flicked through the catalogue on the sofa in the evening. Because as a child you couldn’t write your Christmas wish list without the massive doorstop. Because on a few pages there were things that as a teenager you thought were even more thrilling than the Dr. Sommer section of BRAVO magazine and and and...

Oh well. We had a mega trend up our sleeves for years and didn’t use it. How stupid of us professional communicators. But regardless, we are enjoying the extra looks we are getting now. What coverage! Hashtag #OTTOKatalog. So many comments and coverage on soemthing we have even been mocked for sometimes over the last few years (a ‘relic’). Well, we have been happy to be wrong. And now we are very happy to accept congratulations on a great story - for example from Christoph Koch, Lead Editor of the Hamburg magazine STERN (Thanks for that!).

Incidentally, the last main catalogue cover is decorated with a smartphone with the words “I’m off to the app”. That is OTTO. And that is our future. For this, we hope for further keen interest!

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