German state-owned train operator Deutsche Bahn debuted an advertisement Friday morning featuring a gay couple, setting off a wave of reactions on social media.
Berlin (dpa) - The advertisement, a nearly two-minute-long clip, juxtaposes scenes of two men, one fan cheering in the stands and one football player on the field. At the end of the clip they meet at the train station and walk off holding hands.
The clip was meant to commemorate 25 years of ICE high-speed trains in Germany, but reactions on social media - which were mostly positive - focused on the gay couple.
The post on Facebook had 680,000 views and 3,700 likes, including a like from Germany‘s Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, early Friday morning. On YouTube the video, which went live Wednesday, was at 445,000 views.
BBDO, the advertising agency that developed video concept, chose a gay couple because they wanted to show that ICE trains are more than a means of transportation, according to Franzis Heusel, managing and consulting director at the agency.
"Every day trains bring all kinds of people together."
The ICE anniversary coincides with the start of the European 2016 football tournament, so it was clear they should use football in the advertisement, he explained.
To date, there has been no openly gay player on the German national football team. Thomas Hitzlsperger, a midfielder who played on the German national team in 2006, came out as gay after his retirement in 2013.
For an advertisement to be successful on social media, "you have to get people to think, laugh or cry," said Stefan Styanov, chairman of a focus group on social media at the Digital Industry Association in Germany.
"Homosexuality is still a controversial issues that draws attention," he said. Plus, an emotional story is being told.
Markus Ulrich, spokesman for the German Lesbian and Gay Association, saw the clip as a step in the right direction. It was only a matter of time before a gay couple would be shown interacting in a normal everyday situation, he said.
"The only downside is that the couple didn‘t kiss at the end," the association‘s spokesman said. "You can see where the line is."
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