AA Goes Underground in Munich

A Public Information Initiative from Intergroup Bavaria and the Munich Newcomers Group.

It all started, as it so often does, when we thought about how we could make AA more visible in Bavaria. Spontaneously, I thought of videos in subways or in other public places. I envisioned large posters on highways or buildings, screen advertising at airports, etc. We had been inspired by PI initiatives in London, Costa del Sol, and Australia.

Having done some research, we soon became more realistic and less grandiose. It would be difficult to carry out the concept with the funds available to our comparatively small intergroup.

After looking at all the remaining possibilities, it seemed that an affordable way of doing comparable PI work would be to rent space to hang up A1-sized posters in the Munich subway.

It was great timing that AA Great Britain had just released four new posters with the tagline “DOES ALCOHOL COST YOU MORE THAN MONEY?”. We found the motifs and message to be particularly strong and powerful. We customized the posters by adding the details of the CER website and help email address, and our own QR-code along with the note “Scan here for daily meetings in Munich”.

The company responsible for the Munich subway advertising was very patient with our small request. We did not receive a charity discount, but we were offered the opportunity to use any space not rented out by the company for as long as it was available.

The poster printing costs and the rent for the space for a minimum period of one year came to a total of roughly 1,500€. However, there was a minimum purchase of two posters.

I found the offer very attractive and presented the concept for discussion at intergroup. I also presented it to my homegroup, which I thought might like to participate in the project.

However, there were some objections in both groups. Isn’t that too much money? Can we afford that? Wouldn’t it be better to invest in face-to-face situations like at schools, universities, international companies, etc.?

In the end, however, it was decided by a large majority that the IG would finance one poster for a period of one year. In addition, the Munich Newcomers Group decided to finance a second poster from its own funds.

The posters were put on display on 1 June 2019. We started with one poster at Marienplatz and one at Karlsplatz, two of the largest underground train hubs in Munich.

An AA friend and I visited our posters on the same day. They looked perfect—a little bit of hope made of paper in the middle of the busy Munich subway.

A short time later, the advertising company called me to say that there was unrented space available, and that we could hang two more posters at Isartor and Karlsplatz at no extra cost. As a result there have been four AA posters hanging in the Munich subway carrying the message of AA, 24 hours a day as of 1 September 2019.

The outcome of the campaign is hard to predict, and we might never know exactly. That said, the posters are making AA visible to the general public. Even if one of our posters draws the attention of just one single passer-by and shows this person or a person close to them, even in the distant future, the way to AA, it has been well worth it.

In addition, it was also a valuable personal experience to observe this type of new project in the IG Bavaria from the beginning through all levels of decision-making. Taking care of the project with a lot of commitment, patience, and tolerance helped to overcome any difficulties. This experience has taught me that doing service not only “helps us reach a fellow sufferer” but continuously helps us in strengthening our own sobriety.


Maximilian S.

Public Information Officer, Intergroup Bavaria

Home group: Munich Newcomers