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Meisterkreis: German Luxury Brands United Against Counterfeiting

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marques_logoFollowing on from IPCopy’s 3 July post reporting from the Marques Luxury Brands Symposium that took place in Zurich at the end of June 2015, we are now bringing you a summary of the presentation given at the Symposium by Clemens Pflanz, founder and CEO of Meisterkreis.

Mr Pflanz introduced the audience to his organisation. Born at the end of 2011 from a German luxury brands’ initiative against public indifference to counterfeit goods, Meisterkreis is a member of the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance (ECCIA), an umbrella organisation that brings together European associations with the same mission (Circulo Fortuny (Spain), Comité Colbert (France), Fondazione Altagamma (Italy) and Walpole (UK)) and representing around 400 European luxury brands that make up 70% of the global luxury goods market.

Meisterkreis, in the words of Mr Pflanz, stands for a culture that appreciates creativity, craftsmanship and technical capabilities: the brands it represents do not merely produce goods, but are genuine ambassadors for German and European quality. These are values that are worth defending and acceptance of counterfeit goods should simply not be tolerated. Meisterkreis initiates debates to make the public aware of the value of genuine goods and of the economical, cultural and social effect of buying fakes, at the same time it promotes target groups that engage with opinion leaders, editors-in-chief, consumers etc, to spread the message.

Mr Pflanz reported statistics according to which 43% of the 18-25-year-olds have at least once consciously bought counterfeits and 90% of consumers consider buying counterfeit goods socially acceptable. The latter figure is particularly shocking!

Very entertaining we found Mr Pflanz’s overview of the ‘mock’ online counterfeit goods retail facility created by Meisterkreis: PLAGIATE aimed at surprising, dissuading and educating potential buyers of counterfeit goods.

For research purposes, I had a play around navigating the website and pretending to want buy a counterfeit CHANNEL handbag to see what happened.

On accessing the website, a window with the following notice popped up:


Wussten Sie eigentlich, dass Kenner nur Originale kaufen? Ihnen reicht schon das Etikett? Sie haben an Nachgemachtem wirklich Freude? Das können wir uns nicht vorstellen. Wir versprechen Ihnen: Plagiate werden jedenfalls keine Ihrer Erwartungen erfüllen. Freuen Sie sich, wir haben Sie vor dem Kauf billiger Kopien bewahrt und vor den möglichen Folgen.

Mehr Informationen: MEISTERKREIS

(The message is in essence:  WHY COUNTERFEITS ARE NOT AN ALTERNATIVE: Did you know that those in the know only buy genuine goods? We cannot imagine that counterfeits will give you real joy and that the label will suffice. We can promise you that counterfeits are never up to the expectations. You should be pleased that we have warned you before the purchase of cheaper copies and before the possible consequences.)

I then closed the window and clicked on the €299.99 CHANNEL bag, then on ‘JETZT KAUFEN’ (BUY NOW) and the window with the same notice popped up again. Impossible to buy, lesson – hopefully – learned.

The PLAGIATE website is promoted by Meisterkreis through online advertisement  banners, Google Ad-words, social media and YouTube. In his presentation Mr Pflanz advised that in just a few months of activity, the PLAGIATE website had generated in excess of €2,000,000 of ‘aborted’ sales.

So, a  timely topic and a few conversation points for those like me who will hit the Mediterranean beaches this Summer and will watch sellers of counterfeit handbags walk past.

Manuela Macchi  13 August 2015

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