To bolster its image, Greece could learn a thing or two from computer giant Apple, says Greek American advertising guru Bill Tragos, co-founder of TBWA, the advertising firm behind many of Apple’s legendary ads that promoted its products as “different and better” than anything else on the market.
“(The economic crisis) hurts anything that says ‘Made in Greece’ or ‘from Greece’,” Tragos said by phone from his California home. “It has a much bigger long-term effect than anybody realizes.”
“The media reports the news, they’re not making up bad stories… Let’s not blame anybody else but ourselves.”
Despite months of negative stories, Tragos doesn’t lay all the blame at the media’s doorstep. Like many who share his heritage, Tragos says “I wish the U.S. [press] would stop taking pot shots at Greece,… [but] the media reports the news, they’re not making up bad stories… Let’s not blame anybody else but ourselves.”
Nonetheless, he goes on, “I don’t want to hear anything from the Germans until they’ve paid their war reparations.”
Playing the blame game won’t remedy the situation, though. And ‘image management’ by itself can only go so far. “I think the country needs something positive to happen to give people some encouragement,” he says.
“Greece should focus on its strengths and known commodities such as tourism, the Mediterranean Diet.”
In Tragos’ view, Greece should focus on its strengths and known commodities such as tourism, the Mediterranean Diet, yogurt and kalamata olives — all, he suggests, would help the debt-ridden country get moving in the right direction.
“I’m all for going after the low-hanging fruit, if you will.”
Tragos is not short on ideas on how to make this happen. He says sending Greeks to the United States and Canada specifically to educate people in North America about the Mediterranean Diet would be a start.
His ideas for a Greek marketing campaign don’t stop at marketing commodities. The “empty and rotting” Olympic facilities could be used as sound studios, and the money could be used to refurbish Greek museums.
Tragos offers another idea: show off Greece’s heritage — and make some money in the process.
“One thing I do know that we got is culture and history,”
“One thing I do know that we got is culture and history,” Tragos says. “Why don’t we send out some statues, artifacts and charge a fee to have [them] on display for a few weeks?”
Bill Tragos knows a thing or two when it comes to international marketing.
He co-founded TBWA, which stands for Tragos Bonnage Wiesendanger Ajroldi, with three partners in Paris in 1970. Tragos says TBWA grew so quickly because its founders were from four different countries. After 17 years in Europe, Tragos returned to the United States to build the TBWA brand on this side of the Atlantic, making it the first agency from Europe to successfully expand into the U.S.
Since then it has grown to become the ninth largest advertising agency in the world, with $9 billion in revenues, over 100 offices in 62 countries, and more than 12,000 employees worldwide. Now a unit of the Omnicom Group, TBWA has garnered a global reputation for its creative international campaigns for clients ranging from Adidas, Apple and Absolut, to Levi’s, Nissan, Sony and Visa.