AMPELMANN Berlin, german from AMPELMANN GmbH on Vimeo.

From a traffic light symbol to a global brand


He helps pedestrians to cross the street. He is friendly, dynamic and wears a charming hat. Born in October 1961 in East-Berlin, he survived the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. We talk about the Ampelman. Developed by the traffic psychologist Karl Peglau in communist Germany, he aimed to gain attention and save children in road traffic by means of his sympathetic manner.


The traffic light symbol with human features quickly gained a lot of popularity and brightened up the daily routine in GDR. In 1982, the little Ampelmen started a meteoric TV-career. Friedrich Rochow, Director of the state owned DEFA film studio, lobbied for children in his road safety film clips. As super-egos, the red and green cartoon stars supported and assisted Stiefelchen and Kompasskalle, the two protagonists of this series, in more than 80 episodes.

Like many things of East German everyday life, the two little Ampelmen were supposed to disappear after the German reunification. Regulations changed, traffic lights got dismantled and the Ampelmen replaced by the West German surrogates. 


Creative political campaigns, by committed people from East and West, preserved the little eastern Ampelmen from its extinction. After being rescued, the traffic controllers were given new tasks as design and lifestyle products. As time passed by, the AMPELMANN GmbH supported them to become icons of East German culture.  

Established in 1999, the mid-sized design and marketing company AMPELMANN GmbH is located in Berlin-Mitte. Its core business is the management of the AMPELMANN label and trademark, as well as the marketing and licensing of Ampelman branded products and activities in Germany and abroad. The AMPELMANN GmbH worked closely together with the originator Karl Peglau + and owns all trademark rights. Since their rebirth, the little Ampelmen gained high popularity. Today they are perceived worldwide as a brand from Berlin.


At present, about 100 employees contribute to the constant success of the icon. The entire product range is being developed and designed in-house as well as produced on behalf of AMPELMANN. Several product, fashion and graphic designers manage the creative part of the company. Marketing and sales specialists take care of its reputation and course of expansion. A logistics centre is responsible for distribution of all goods to customers. In Berlin, four shops belong to the company. They can be found at the Hackesche Höfe (flagship store), Potsdamer Platz, DomAquarée and Gendarmenmarkt. Furthermore, AMPELMANN supplies about 160 sales partners in Germany and other European countries. Moreover, since 2010, special AMPELMANN shops exist in Tokyo and Seoul. Of course, all products can also be ordered from the official webshop (


The range of products includes more than 600 different articles and is being expanded constantly. The focus is on emotional lifestyle products with a high utility value. AMPELMANN has high quality standards: superior material and durability are as important as the preference of local producers. Many products are manufactured in East Germany, the home of the little Ampelmen.

A social and environmentally friendly corporate policy is very important to the AMPELMANN GmbH. This includes for example green electricity from Greenpeace Energy, organic fruits and soft drinks for all employees as well as the support of the NGO “Plan”. Successively all products will become more sustainable. In 2011 AMPELMANN began to replace the raw material of the entire t-shirt range to organic cotton. The efforts for improvements will be continued in 2012 and onward. The quality brand AMPELMANN will develop further fields of business in the future. In 2012, AMPELMANN plans to establish a foundation that will be setting its focus on traffic education and social commitment.