Mozart Year, a real money-spinner
The "Mozart Year 2006" has become a huge marketing event that will presumably rake in several hundred millions.
When Mozart died at the age of 35, he was penniless. Now, on the 250th anniversary of his birth, public relations experts are showing how to make millions with the name of the Austrian musical genius.
The "Mozart Year 2006" has become a huge marketing event that will presumably rake in several hundred millions into the pockets of the Austrian tourism industry and other companies, and not just in Austria.
Leo Bauernberger, head of the regional tourism authority in Salzburg, where the composer was born, expects to see 50 million euros ($60 million) made from tourism and merchandising for Salzburg alone.
Vienna expects to gain similar sums. Everyone wants to profit from the worldwide Mozart razzmatazz. Innumerable "new products" using Mozart's name or portrait are coming onto the market.
T-shirts and caps bearing the name "Wolfie" and that of his sister "Nannerl" are on sale in souvenir shops and on the Internet, along with mini violins, "Haeferl" (coffee cups), fire lighters, umbrellas, Mozart ashtrays or whole baby sets.
It is not surprising that Austrian companies are proving to be creative. The Mozart chocolates, which have sold in millions, are no longer the only tasty calorie overload on the market.
The range of sweets goes from "genuine Salzburg dessert yoghurt" (with nougat and marzipan) to "Mozart wine from Langenlois" and "new Mozart slices" from a famous waffles producer, which are also filled with nougat and marzipan and are expected to sell 2.5 million times in 2006 alone.
In the famous Viennese cafes Landtmann and Mozart there are cakes called Mozart-Spitz and Mozart-Torte (advertised as a "symphony of taste").
Up until now, the high point of the edible Mozart inventions is the "Mozart sausage", created in October 2005 by butcher Stefan Fuchs from Groedig in the shape of a violin. A Salzburg brewery produces a Mozart beer that the bon vivant Mozart is supposed to have enjoyed.
Mozart sells well in other countries too. In 2006 the world will be supplied with Mozart Quelle mineral water from Augsburg and in Japan a rice wine with Mozart's face is on sale.
Mozart has long been one of the most famous brand names in the world. The name of the Salzburg "composer" is apparently better known in China than their own president, and according to Austrian media reports, his fame across the world is even greater than Jesus Christ, Volkswagen or Mercedes Benz.
Advertising experts calculate his potential market value at $4.5 billion. That won't stop the public relations experts in the Alpine state from stepping up their marketing of the composer in his anniversary year.
The tourism authorities of Vienna and Salzburg along with the national body set up a working group for "Mozart 2006" as early as 2004. Together they have spent 4.5 million euros to promote the anniversary throughout the world.
In 2005, tourism planners used TV and press advertisements from America to Japan to make a journey to Vienna or Salzburg look appealing to Mozart fans.
Music stars like Nicolaus Harnoncourt, Ricardo Muti, Anna Netrebko or Thomas Hampton have made themselves available, without payment, but perhaps not entirely selflessly.
The city of Mozart expects up to 600,000 extra visitors this year, around 10 per cent more than last year, which might bring the city on the river Salzach closer to being "choked with tourists", as some commentators have suggested.