Damian Mac Con Uladh

Not the gods again! Greece launches new tourism ‘communications strategy’

In Greece on 5 November 2014 at 1:25 am
How tacky can you get?  A statue of the god Hercules superimposed on a scene from Olympia

How tacky can you get? A statue of the god Hercules superimposed on a scene from Olympia

[See update below]

The Manhattan cityscape by night, a middle-aged (fictitious) male writer sitting alone in his penthouse office and dreaming of Greece with a soundtrack that’s reminiscent of 1980s US soap operas Dynasty or Falcon Crest … if there’s a way to start a promotional video for Greek tourism, then this is surely not the way to do it.

The video, entitled “And everywhere you turn: Gods … Myths … Heroes”, is described as visualising the national tourism agency EOT’s “communications strategy” for 2015, the aim of which is to attract more visitors.

According to the tourism minister, Olga Kefalogianni, the “new communication strategy is based on the Greek gods and ancient heroes that we have all read about since our childhood and have all known since our school years”.

It’s a strategy built on the concept that contemporary activities such as harvesting, entertainment, sports, learning and arts are inspired and correspond to a Greek god, a Greek hero, a myth or a historical event.

Accordingly, the video makes plenty of references to the physical remains of the country’s classical past but deals little with its present, save for a couple of rustic scenes of villagers baking bread or making wine in the traditional way. There’s also a more than a nod to the country’s Christian heritage; our narrator tells us that “when a new God came on to the scene he was also welcomed and accommodated”. One wonders though whether this is to appeal to the relatively small religious tourism sector or to satisfy the tourism minister’s conservative New Democracy party.

The result is a hackneyed, corny and stodgy attempt. The tacky superimposed images of Greek gods on Greek archaeological sites or countryside is something you’d expect to see on the book-selling TV shows of New Democracy rightwing MP Adonis Georgiadis.

No, not a screenshot from an Adonis Georgiadis book-selling video

No, not a screenshot from an Adonis Georgiadis book-selling video

And what is utterly incomprehensible and inexcusable for a tourism video is the inclusion of a clip (here) from the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a games milked by the Nazi propaganda machine. [See update below]

The video contains a clip from the torch relay of the 1936 Berlin Olympics

The video contains a clip from the torch relay of the 1936 Berlin Olympics

To make it worse, the minister presented this video to the World Travel Market (WTM), described as the leading global event for the travel industry, which is taking place from November 3–6 in London.

Looking through all eleven minutes of it, one can only wonder what’s goes through the minds of the people responsible for promoting Greek tourism abroad. Greece is a country with incredible tourism potential and in recent years, arrivals are steadily climbing and receipts in the sector have reached a record high. The prospects for Greek tourism are looking good so surely the sector deserves a better effort than another appeal to the gods.

In London, Kefalogianni told journalists and industry representatives that Greek tourism is not just about “sun and sea” but it’s a “varied product with themed sections which are developing and aim to cover all the interests of a modern and selective visitor”. If that is the case, one wonders why a video was made whose target audience seems to be middle-aged male writers fascinated by Greek mythology since childhood who can come to Greece alone for a month but can afford to stay a year.

The video is a far cry from the vibrancy of the New York Times’ recent guide on what to do in 36 hours in Athens, which understandably went viral because it seemed to have been written with attracting real tourists in mind: people who want good food, to know about what museums and sites to visit and to get a taste of contemporary Greek life.

The video was directed by Andonis Theocharis Kioukas and was conceived by Nicholas Stamolidis, an archaeology professor at the University of Crete and director of the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. The fictional writer in the film is played by Don Morgan Nielsen, who has worked as a translator. The music is by composer Dimitis Papadimitriou.

If this video is the best that Greece’s tourism agency EOT can come up with, then it only serves to confirm journalist Pavlos Zafiropoulos’ recent point that this is a country of riches led by impoverished minds.

Update: Greece’s tourism agency EOT removed the original version of the video on November 6 after the Guardian brought to its attention the inclusion of the clip from the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In a new version of the video, which has been embedded above, some of the footage from Berlin has been replaced with a torch-lighting ceremony from Ancient Olympia. However, a few seconds of film from the Berlin Olympics footage remains in the edited version. 

Olympics

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  1. In our experience here in NW Crete, they would do much better in attracting tourists by ensuring clean and working toilets close to the beach, beaches which have some space on which to play instead of being overcrowded with taverna and cafe bar owners’ own beach beds and umbrellas, regular cleaning of the beaches, better waste disposal facilities (come to think of it, provide some waste disposal facilities in the first place!) working and safe showers on the beach etc. Apokoronas beaches are not amongst the best in the land – by a large margin! Local walking trails linking up cheese makers, vintners etc are all very well, but most come for the seaside. Many come and are disappointed.

  2. I agree, it’s a terribly dated film which doesn’t appear to have a clearly defined audience. Mistake to include the Olympics image but I also question encouraging tourists to pick up lumps of marble to take home (echoes of Elgin maybe?).

  3. A little more on “New York” writer Mr. Nielsen here…
    http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/ni/donald-nielsen-jr-1.html

    I agree with Damian about the NYT 36Hours video on Athens which I thought very effective though a bit unreal. But then 36 hours is not a lifetime.

  4. Happy to have stumbled on your blog, looks very interesting. Nevertheless I don’t really agree with your views on the video. I’m not one to route for Olga Kefalogianni and I certainly didn’t appreciate the flash mob incident but.. The video is fairly decent. It tells a story and has all the core values of Greece’s brand. Greece is undoubtedly the pillar of western civilization and many people around the world dream of visiting it just for that. Most of the rest come for the sun and the sea, the very reason we Greeks love this country so much.The target group of the video is not the potential tourists but the tour operators and other tourist industry parties. The NYT video and article you mention is great (and actually feature a friend of mine) but it has a completely different audience. I won’t argue more since I too haven’t yet seen a campaign about my country that I feel will sweep people completely off their feet. On the other hand I’m not the target audience either. Nice to have you here with us and I’ll come back for more!

  5. […] in Ancient Olympia. The mistake was first pointed out by Damian Mac Con Uladh on his blog, “A Gael in Greece”, and was quickly followed by a report in the […]

  6. […] ceremony in Ancient Olympia. The mistake was first pointed out by Damian Mac Con Uladh on his blog, “A Gael in Greece”, and was quickly followed by a report in the […]

  7. As a Greek gay man, I am more than fed up with this. I have to deal with this every day. Greece simply has nothing new to say. And avoids to speak up about lgbt issues, were it lags behind even new EU countries, like Latvia. This is what I saw with my eyes, when I went to see the performance Corpus Christi, in October 2012
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-19983575
    This is what I have to face and listen: Gays are dogs!
    http://www.romfea.gr/epikairotita/26095-2014-08-21-10-42-20
    So, give me a break, with ancient Gods…

    • You ‘re not gay. But you feel, write and act as a gay. That is why you are not wellcome in Greece. You blame Greece only for your ass’s discomfort. There are dozens of other problems you could fed up with, concerning Greece, and in a touristic article your comments deal only for your gayness. So you are not gay. You are only “paliopoustra” (an old farty faggot)

  8. I am Greek and I TOTALLY agree with your approach. I don’t know if I feel anger or shame for those who govern us – probably both! With your permission, I will post your article on my facebook page.

  9. […] σε αυτή τη φωτογραφία δημοσιεύτηκε σε αυτό το ​blog «Αυτό δεν είναι screenshot από διαφημιστικό βιβλίου του […]

  10. […] new official Visit Greece tourism video that was described on this blog last week as “hackneyed, corny and stodgy” includes copyright footage lifted from the […]

  11. I couldn’t help but wonder how he managed to get through customs with a bulky marble relic in his pocket but then I noticed he was using a turbo-x computer, which I understand is a Greek product from Plaisio. I realised then that he doesn’t even have a view of Manhattan because he is in Athens. These are of course trivial details in comparison to the blatant plagiarism and inclusion of Nazi footage- the ‘stone’ and odd choice of computer only make the icing on the cake that much cheesier.

  12. A seriously boring video. Nothing new. Old ideas chewed swallowed and vomited over and over again…

  13. […] the edited video clip s up on YouTube again, however, journalist Damian Mac Con Uladh notes on his blog that “there are still some seconds of the Nazi footage on the new video […]

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