Iconic Ads: Berlitz – German Coastguard


Berlitz uses guilt by capitalising on the audience’s capacity to foresee a future of regret over not having improved their linguistic abilities.

This unassuming advertisement for Berlitz Language Schools demonstrates that not every advertisement has to be epic in order to last the test of time. It was produced in 2006 by the Bates United agency in Oslo. It has become the kind of cult commercial that attracts a new audience every few years when it resurfaces on social media.

Due to the profusion of amusing mistakes that occur in international communication, Berlitz Corporation now has a great deal of material at its disposal to utilise in promoting its language-learning services.

The setup is really straightforward. A new member of the German coastguard is shown to his intimidating console, where short instructions are provided to him in his mother language, instructing him to pay attention to the “survival radar,” and then the individual is left to his or her own devices. Even before he could relax back into his chair, his radio picked up a request for help from a ship sailing under the English flag that was in danger. May day, may day, we are sinking! is the panicked scream that can be heard coming down the line repeatedly. Our protagonist, who has a thick German accent, answers, “Hello, this is the German coastguard…” with a degree of reluctance that belies the gravity of the situation. “… What are you thinking about? “

There is not a single unnecessary word in the material, which is quite fitting for an institution that teaches language. We are reminded of the significance of the clarity of language, authored by a team that plainly likes having fun with it themselves, but we are not given a stuffy sermon about it. In a sea of huge budget epics, where the purpose of preaching reigns supreme, the film “We Are Sinking” seems like a return to a previous era. However, in contrast to some of those box office hits, this advertisement will continue to be seen on television for many years.

In spite of the fact that there is very little action in the movie, it nevertheless manages to be entertaining and interesting in a manner that is rather unexpected, and as a result, you find yourself wanting to see it several times. Even if the film is just an exaggerated joke at heart, it nevertheless manages to be incredibly successful when the sender is able to convey the message as well as they have here. As an attachment to emails, the movie has also found its way into homes all across the world.

Thorbjorn Naug and Paal Sparre Enger conceived the story that would become the film. Nic Osborne and Sune Maroni are responsible for its direction.

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