When hyphens matter: Hamburg football club’s ‘Anti-Fa’ merch raises ire from ‘Fa’ shower gel maker

When hyphens matter: Hamburg football club’s ‘Anti-Fa’ merch raises ire from ‘Fa’ shower gel maker Sending a robust political message, a Hamburg football club unveiled a line of merchandise called “Anti-Fa,” but all of a sudden received a sharp rebuke from Henkel company whose shower gel label is known worldwide just as “Fa”.

St. Pauli, a second-division football club from Hamburg, embarked on a merchandising venture presenting the “Anti-Fa” – a collection of shower gel and soft cream meant to troll the right-wingers and support the leftist cause. The new gel “gives you wild freshness and a clear mind to continue living our anti-fascist stance,” they promised in a tweet.

But those four extra letters and the hyphen in the name of the merch didn’t go well with Henkel, and it has little to do with politics.

One of the company’s best-known shower gels is called “Fa” and it felt the St. Pauli’s very own body wash came uncomfortably close to their brand.

“The sale of a shower gel with the product name ‘Anti-Fa,‘ or the combination of the word ‘anti‘ with one of our brand names doesn’t suit us – regardless of the context in which it appears [or] the political attitude associated with it,” Henkel AG responded on Twitter.

To be on the safe side, the company underlined “our Fa brand is available in many countries worldwide” and said it “has always stood for diversity, tolerance & openness to the world.”

It also vowed to defend the “Fa” brand and threatened to take legal actions if necessary.

St. Pauli’s merch was predictably met with little praise by Alternative for Germany, the country’s largest right-wing party. Martin Hess, the party member, the club of siding “left-wing extremist group” which is associated with “massive attacks — sometimes even armed attacks — staged against police officers.” 

However, St. Pauli CEO Andreas Rettig hailed “our creative marketing and merchandising department,” Bild newspaper: “If such people from that party get upset, we’ve done something right.”

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