Company Magazine – Two Become One

In October 2010, in time for the anniversary “20 Years of German Reunification,” Carl Zeiss published a new edition of its customer magazine, “Innovation,” in which there is also an essay on how Carl Zeiss has progressed since 1989. The Carl Zeiss company magazine can look back on an interesting history of its own – part of it taking place in Oberkochen and part of it in Jena.


The customer magazine of Carl Zeiss in changing times

The customer magazine of Carl Zeiss in changing times

“Jenaer Rundschau”

– the customer magazine in East Germany

“The logo was always a big challenge,” recalls Gudrun Vogel, former editor of “Jenaer Rundschau,” the customer magazine of VEB Carl Zeiss Jena. A degreed physicist who today is the publicist for Carl Zeiss in Jena, she joined Carl Zeiss in 1979 directly after finishing her degree. “As a result of the London Agreement, using the company name Carl Zeiss or reproducing the lens trademark in the issue wasn’t allowed everywhere,” Vogel goes on to explain. That is why there were sometimes ten different versions of the magazine, which were sent out four times per year in five languages to more than 120 countries in runs of 35,000 copies. For Western countries, VEB Carl Zeiss Jena used the name “Jenoptik” and the trademark with “aus Jena” in their magazine. The ZEISS lens on the instruments in the photographs was either covered up or retouched in the original image.

Together with the managing editor, Vogel prepared the topics for each issue and contacted scientists and users around the world to recruit them in order to write a contribution in “Jenaer Rundschau.” Back then, all arrangements with the authors were made by letter or over the phone. Once the texts and layout were finished, everything went to the print shop. On the first press proof, it was possible to see whether the pictures met the requirements. “Once it was possible to see the ZEISS lens peeking through despite overprinting,” Vogel recalls. She had to take it to the legal department. “Overprinting the trademark again involved steep costs, so we were supposed to ‘risk it.’” Fortunately, no complaint was forthcoming from Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen. After all, both companies watched each other carefully to make sure that the requirements of the London Agreement were being adhered to.


“Zeiss Information” and “Opton Information”

– the customer magazine in West Germany

In Oberkochen, there had already been a customer magazine since 1953 – “ZEISS Information.” Before and during reunification, the physicist Dr. Wolfgang Pfeiffer was the editor-in-chief. Initially, the magazine was published four times a year in five languages; after 1974, it generally came out once or twice a year in German and English. There were up to 70,000 copies in the print runs. “We mainly printed guest contributions from users, but we also introduced new instruments and summarized scientific work and special applications,” Pfeiffer explains. The Oberkochen company used the name “Opton” in the Eastern Bloc states. “For this part of the world, there was the ‘Opton Information,’ which was published in English and Russian,” says Valentine Masset, director of Communication Services of the Internal Service division of Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen. She was the editor responsible for this sister publication of “ZEISS Information,” which came out in Russian and English and consisted of articles that were partly original and partly taken from “ZEISS Information” and adapted. Operating under two different company names and trademarks meant that many things had to be produced twice, including brochures. For this reason, product photos were always taken twice: once with the ZEISS logo and once neutrally – without the trademark – for the “optonized” version.


Managing editor Dr. Wolfgang Pfeiffer (left) doing research for “ZEISS Information”

Managing editor Dr. Wolfgang Pfeiffer (left) doing research for “ZEISS Information”