This year’s Superbowl held a surprise for Greeks and philhellenes when a commercial featured an homage to the Greek language and more specifically the different words Greeks use to describe the concept of “love”. The advert explained the meaning of philia, storge, eros and agape and moved all of us with four ancient Greek words that are still used today in modern Greek to describe all shades of love.
This is probably the most viral advert featuring the Greek spirit. However, Greece and its spirit are not new protagonists in the world of marketing and advertising. With adverts of Greeks in foreign lands, foreigners in Greece, Greek families and old couples, both Greek and foreign companies have found a way to use the essence of Greece to advertise their products. Sometimes this essence is all about the Greek hospitality, some other times it is about the unique family bonds Greeks have. And sometimes it is about the Greek temperament that can sometimes get you in trouble especially if the other person in traffic happens to also be Greek.
The Greek airlines decided to advertise their flights from Greece to London with an ad featuring two Greeks randomly meeting on the street. The encounter featured the typical Greek honking and a few “cosmetic” characterizations including the driver’s confusion with a right-hand-drive car. Nothing captures Greek spirit best, than two Greeks who verbally fight in traffic in a foreign country.
The same company found another way to advertise their product with a commercial that bases the success of its message on the unique relationship between a Greek grandfather and his grandchild who lives abroad. Young Stefanos wrote a letter to his pappou to explain how excited he was to visit him and his grandma in the summer. The young boy’s enthusiasm to meet his grandparents and the images of the young boy spending time with them in the Greek summer, partnered with the reality of Greek expats who live far from their families and touched everybody who watched the spot. They say something is moving when there is some truth in it and there is nothing more true than the fierce love Greek grandparents have for their grandchildren.
Talking of Greek grandparents, an Australian company once advertised their fresh and all natural vegetables through an older Greek couple who live in the Australian suburbs. Pappou Stavros and Yiayia Maria grow their own fresh vegetables but need to compete with some pigeons using what else? Their Greek ingenuity. Both the idea of a homemade mechanism to keep the birds away and the way the couple interacts with each other in Greek is so typically Greek that makes the advert hilarious to Greeks and Greek speakers everywhere.
The best way to capture the Greek spirit, however, is through the concept of Greek hospitality. Zeus was the god of hospitality and Crete was his birthplace. For this reason, there is no better way to promote the wonderful island of Crete than through the concept of Greek hospitality. Xenia (hospitality in ancient Greek) is the concept of showing kindness and protection to those who are away from home. And this is precisely what the foreign tourist starring in this commercial experienced when he thought he was in trouble for stealing some oranges but actually ended up being invited over to join in a Greek family’s most sacred “ritual;” lunch…
Through its amazingly rich language able to describe all shades of human emotion, the unique temperament of its people, its people’s extreme dedication to family, through their ingenuity or through important concepts like hospitality that make the country special to anyone who visits it, Greece has found a way to star in Greek and international marketing by being what it’s always been; funny, animated, family-oriented, creative, hospitable. And the heart of all these is the Greek Language…