Monday, 12 March 2012

Give Greece a chanc

Over the past two years, so many changes have occurred in Greece as were not made during the last thirty-five years. The country stood on the verge of complete collapse, reforms have been delayed and some people decided that the only way to deal with the situation have been street protests and riots. "All this has created a false image of Greece, while the most severe programme of budget cuts in modern history is running here," said Mary Andreadi, Account Manager Industry and Public Affairs at the V + O Communication advertising agency.

In an interview with GRReporter, she presented the attempt of some of the leading Greek companies to change the country's image among the European public. With the help of the world famous brand strategist Peter Economidis, who has taken the creative part of the campaign, they published its slogan in leading European media in perhaps the most decisive days for Greece in late February.
"The campaign "Give Greece a chance" was carried out in the three days from 24 to 26 February in two large communication sectors. The first was the publication of a full-page ad in 17 major European newspapers, giving emphasis on countries like Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. There were three English-language publications among them that are distributed throughout Europe - Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and International Herald Tribune.
The main slogan of the ad was "Give Greece a chance", followed by a number of messages to European citizens. The website of the campaign, which is its second part, was at the bottom. These materials were in four languages: German, French, Dutch and English in order to reach as much of the European public as possible.
This was a single socially oriented initiative. It was funded by a group of prominent Greek businessmen. The sole purpose was to show that the sacrifices the Greeks have made under the austerity programme are not in vain. This is a network of businessmen who have professional and friendly relations and the same mindset. They found that the discussion on the progress of Greece has started to decline in both the country and abroad. I.e., stereotypes and misconceptions have begun to cover its core. A large part of the European public actually is a victim of a deception that presents the Greeks as lazy, as people evading taxes, people who have done absolutely nothing over the past two years to save their country.
Because all sacrifices made could not fit in one post, a website was developed. Besides a presentation of the initiative and the companies that funded it, the website contains a section devoted to all actions taken by Greece over the past two years, referring to the official data. The message is, "We would like to note the goals we have achieved so far, not just those which we have failed to achieve."
Does the campaign send a message to the Greeks themselves?
Yes, it is also aimed at them. A Facebook page was made during the campaign, which was visited by many Greeks. There were posts made in the Greek media too.
How has the whole initiative started? Tell us about the involvement of the famous brand strategist Peter Economidis.
The discussion about how Greece is represented mostly abroad has been launched for some time. In many critical moments, it was overtaken by the main subject and was confined to certain stereotypes. All those people, who were united by their common way of thinking and concerned about this course of things, have decided to take the initiative. Peter Economidis has already expressed his opinion that Greece needs to change its image. That it should get rid of the image of the Greek presented by Zorbas and must show the modern face of the country and combine the good things of the past with its future prospects. He was one of those who involved in the campaign free of charge and took over with his company the whole creative part of the project. And our company, V + O Communication, took over with communication.
I understand that there was no state funding.
No, there was not. It was a private initiative, funded by strong Greek companies. Anyway, the official state authorities were informed of the entire initiative when it was completed. In practice, the companies that participated simply informed the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos in an official meeting.
How was the campaign accepted?
We are very satisfied with how it was accepted, especially abroad. It was accepted with enthusiasm In Greece too but the message and its aim was to reach beyond the country where the decisions that affect us are taken. There was a great interest from foreign media. The campaign became the subject of interest and interviews and articles have had a significant contribution to it. The comments were very positive. For example, there were over 100 media materials in Germany discussing it. The majority of them were positive and the rest - just neutral. The interest in the Netherlands and France was also great. The campaign was presented in the major world media such as CNN and Bloomberg.
Do you plan to continue the campaign?
As I said, this was a single initiative that aimed to send messages in a very short but crucial time. The specific period from 24 to 26 February was a week after the vote on the second memorandum in the Greek Parliament, the last weekend before the voting procedure of the bailout package by the parliaments of the European Union member states and the subsequent summit. Our goal was to make Europe understand at that time what the "bet" is, what the Greeks have done and that in practice, they are fighting for the possibility of helping their country themselves.
Currently, we are not considering and have not decided if and what the next steps will be. The fact is that we had a very positive momentum, especially in the Internet. We are looking for ways to continue this campaign and we are "open" to more people. The interest of ordinary citizens was touching as well as how many of them offered their voluntary support. They proposed to make free translations or add the website address of the campaign to their blogs or profiles on social media and many other ways.
What we want is Europeans to abandon stereotypes and realize that there is a different Greece, which believes in reforms and stability provided by the membership in the European Union. It is fighting for change and it believes that it will win this battle.

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