In this heady pre-ballot phase, hardly a day passes without my favourite American expat in Germany voicing his surprise whenever Europeans, whether in the media or in person, express their bewilderment about the possibility that the McCain and Palin nightmare-team might have a serious chance of winning the US-election. "Europeans just don't get America", he mutters, in the face of our all too optimistic expectation that a November triumph for this charming Mr Obama is inevitable.
Well, things also work the other way round: Americans don't get Europe. Because if they did, somebody would have told US car manufacturer Dodge that promising Germans a cheap deal on a new car will not make them have more babies.
Dodge, you see, is seriously worried about the declining birthrate in Germany, as Der Spiegel can reveal. The 1,37 Kinder produced per Frau, a recent company press release points out, make this country bottom of the league in Europe, nay the world. Whether this is actually true, is another question - some figures lead to a slightly different conclusion. But let's not be finicky.
In any case, in an act of corporate concern and generosity, Dodge has come up with a (pro-)creative solution, promoted via the ad-campaign Helden zeugen. The slogan, admittedly, is a cute little pun, meaning both "heroes reproduce" and "produce heroes". That's about as funny as it gets. Customers mad enough to want to buy a grotesque gas-guzzling Dodge monstrosity will have the leasing rates deferred for nine months (clever joke, eh?) if they are able to present a positive pregnancy test.
You can just imagine it, can't you? Hundreds of German couples storming their nearest Dodge-dealers, waving little plastic DIY pregnancy kits like magic wands and screaming: "Look: two stripes!"
Behind this smutty nudge-nudge, wink-wink campaign (for more untranslatable punning see the Spiegel article) is of course the fact that Dodge itself is at the bottom of a league table, albeit a different one: sales of cars in Germany.
I suppose one must wish Dodge luck for their daring - and, I presume, doomed, project. For whether it comes to birth rates or sales rates, I suspect that they won't succeed.