The influencer and musician Fynn Kliemann has responded to a critical post by the satirist Jan Böhmermann on his business with corona protective masks. Böhmermann’s video contribution to the show “ZDF Magazin Royale” published on Friday raised the suspicion that the place of production of masks – Asia instead of Europe – could not have been made transparent on purpose; Kliemann was put in contact with a corresponding company.
Kliemann published a long statement in which he critically reflected on his actions. At the same time, however, he asked for a differentiated view. Some things are wrong.
When asked by the dpa, it said: “I have to admit that I could no longer oversee the process. That must never happen and so I take responsibility, even though I was neither a producer nor a seller.” He has disappointed many with his failure to have dealt with these processes in detail.
Anyone who follows satirist Böhmermann on social networks or listens carefully to his podcasts could see the trail he had been laying for a long time. It might have looked funny at first, how he parodied the influencer and musician Kliemann in a dreary parking lot and patronized supposed employees.
Fynn Kliemann became known in 2015 with craftsman videos on YouTube. Within a short time he became a successful Youtuber with an audience of millions and numerous DIY business models.
In April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, he announced that he would switch his textile production, which had previously produced merch clothing, to masks. This happened together with his business partner Tom Illbruck, head of the textile manufacturer “Global Tactics,” who was responsible for production. A week later, the two said they were already one of the most successful mask producers in Europe.
Kliemann staged the production as not being profit-oriented and also stated that the masks were produced “fairly” in Europe.
“Fair masks from Europe” are supposed to come from Bangladesh and Vietnam
According to its own statements, ZDF Magazin has now evaluated “internal chats, voice messages, e-mails, delivery notes, order confirmations, photos, video recordings and call lists” for weeks and reports that Fynn Kliemann lied about his planned profit and also deceived his customers and the public and withheld important information.
In an Instagram post in 2020, Kliemann stated that he sold “fairly produced, reusable mouth coverings from Europe”, with which he would incidentally save “jobs at our producer in Europe”. Shortly thereafter, they sold their product via the online shop About You, among others. For this business model he was awarded the German Sustainability Prize in 2020.
In fact, according to research, a large proportion of the masks were produced in Bangladesh and Vietnam under unfair conditions. Chat histories available to the team at ZDF Magazin Royale are intended to show that Kliemann was involved in the decision-making processes and deliberately concealed the place of production, including from his customers. According to Böhmermann, Fynn Kliemann and his partner Tom Illbruck have ordered 2.3 million masks in Asia.
Non-functional masks donated to Greek refugee shelters
However, the first delivery of 100,000 masks that came from Bangladesh was of inferior quality and did not offer adequate protection against infection. As a result, the production “Global Tactics” waived the costs.
According to research by ZDF Magazin, these are said to have been the masks that Kliemann publicly donated to refugee camps on Lesbos in March. The fact that these were inferior masks was not mentioned at the handover.
In advance, the team at ZDF Magazin had asked Kliemann for a written statement on various aspects of their research. He then commented on Thursday evening in a video published on Instagram.
Company founder Tom Illbruck told the German Press Agency about the mask production site allegation: Masks were also produced in Bangladesh in the relevant period of 2020, not only in Europe. For example, if you, as a major customer, did not attach importance to the masks explicitly coming from a certain country or explicitly from Europe, “we offered masks there without explicitly saying where the masks came from”.
Online retailer About You takes masks offline
When asked about About You, Illbruck said: “According to the documents we have, there is no agreement with About You that the masks came explicitly from Portugal and this has not been assured in writing anywhere.”
The entire research of ZDF Magazin can be read on a website specially set up for this purpose, including the chat histories mentioned.
The ZDF contribution has already led to the first consequences. The online retailer About You, which belongs to the Otto Group, said: “The ZDF magazine Royal Video has reached us and we know it. We are currently reviewing the case internally to get an accurate picture of the facts.”
In a first step, masks from the “Oderso” brand were taken offline. According to the imprint of the shop, Kliemann is the managing director. The German Sustainability Award Foundation also announced that it was withdrawing an award that Kliemann had received in 2020.