A Century of Bayer.Kultur – Celebrating the anniversary
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Holmes Report

A Century of Bayer.Kultur – Celebrating the anniversary

For one hundred years, the Bayer Cultural Affairs Department has been active at company headquarters in Leverkusen as well as at other Bayer locations.

Paul Holmes

For one hundred years, the Bayer Cultural Affairs Department has been active at company headquarters in Leverkusen as well as at other Bayer locations. The development of a wide-ranging series of events in the fields of music, theatre, ballet and art has been based on the company‘s mission to educate – beginning with its own workforce. Culture, in Bayer's view, is not a commodity: it is an indispensable, life-fulfilling part of human experience. Because of its fundamental cultural concept, namely that “artistic concerns must take priority over commercial ones” (Nikolas Kerkenrath, Festival Director), Bayer AG and its enduring commitment to culture are truly worthy to receive the Sabre Award.


Challenge or opportunity

Combining traditional values with contemporary taste is both a challenge and an opportunity for the Bayer Cultural Affairs Department. "Bayer was one of the first companies to commit itself powerfully to education and culture. This original model has survived intact through one hundred years and two world wars" (Nikolas Kerkenrath, Festival Director). It may seem surprising to some, but it is more than a seal of quality or proof of outstanding cultural achievement: for Bayer, modern education in the form of culture does not means slavishly following the latest trends. It will never lose its roots – it will maintain its original values for generations to come. "Culture must make young people addictive – in the best possible sense of the word (...). I trust that Bayer's Cultural Department will continue to support solid values and resist the temptation to simply stage 'events'." (Nikolas Kerkenrath, Festival Director)


Statement of objectives

Whereas many enterprises endeavour to be credible corporate citizens and totally committed from the social, cultural and corporate points of view, for example by supporting events and projects as financial sponsors, Bayer adopts an essentially different approach. Bayer is and lives what others simply aspire to be. By running its own theatre location (the "Erholungshaus") and a special cultural affairs department, Bayer demonstrates that it loves and supports culture for others than material interest. Communicating that fact was one of the main objectives of its anniversary celebrations. The company also wants to show that cultural commitment is one important activity of Bayer in the field of corporate social responsibility.


Strategic approach

Cultural activities are an integral part of Bayer AG's overall social commitment. The Group supports a total of about 300 CSR projects worldwide – including sport sponsoring – with a budget of approximately €50 million. This commitment to cultural activities is one of Bayer's longest-standing CSR traditions. Bayer takes its role as a corporate citizen – which is also part of its business principles – extremely seriously. The Bayer Cultural Affairs Department which celebrates its anniversary today is a prime example of this time-honoured commitment. In keeping with the motto of the centennial season "Science is the reason and intellect of the world, art is its soul" (Maxim Gorki), Bayer truly lives up to its own description of itself.


Campaign implementation

The entire package of communication measures behind the anniversary of the Bayer Cultural Affairs Department and the new season is based on a "360-degree" communication approach which guarantees maximum sustainability. All activities, ranging from traditional advertising and media relations (TV, print, radio) to events and publications, are geared to the company‘s target groups.


Results (particular focus on business results, i.e. sales, share price, etc.)

The centennial season programme and the opening of the 100th season brought Bayer AG's Cultural Affairs Department a great deal of media coverage: print clippings (157 articles) with a circulation of 7,650,000; radio items (coverage: 6,100,000 listeners); two TV clips; and 70 online articles. The project was awarded the coveted prize of the “Freiheit und Verantwortung” (Freedom and Responsibility) initiative for outstanding social commitment. Not least because of the prominent guests who attended the opening event of the centennial season, including German President, patron of the initiative, Horst Köhler, the anniversary attracted considerable attention among both political and general opinion leaders. “The evening which marked the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Bayer AG's Cultural Affairs Department was a wonderful experience. On the one hand we have this sense of tradition, on the other hand so much creativity for the future. Top-quality corporate culture gives us a feeling of confidence for the years ahead. Many thanks to everyone who has been involved in making this possible!” (Horst Köhler, Entry in the Golden Book of the Cultural Department).

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