Greek retail woes part 2 – chains and balls

Let’s say you want to plan an in store activity for a tech product.  “We have thirty stores all over Greece!” beams the person you are talking with.  Here are a few questions to ask before setting out your promotional strategy.

  1. What is the percentage of traffic of your top 2 stores relative to the rest?  Case in point, a well known chain with more than 40 stores.  The first one had 160 thousand visitors last month.    The next four had just over 50 thousand.  And all the rest had …well…very few.    Unless you want to waste money having people trek all around this beautiful country for nothing, decide where to focus.
  2. Which stores are almost dead?  In the above (real) example, almost half the stores had less than 25 thousand visitors in a month.  They are neighborhood affairs, sometimes not even fully owned by the chain, often family run or with some other story.  They might make their money on computer repairs, selling business software or anything else but what you want them to promote.   A long history of failed promotions can be told by old merchandizing kit in their stores…
  3. How accurate are your footfall figures?  Many stores have multiple entrances.  Even a keen statistician would have trouble calculating what the actual traffic was from their numbers.  Other stores have cafes, restaurants, bookshops or tickets within.  Is that the kind of traffic you want for your product?
  4. What time of day is the action?  This is very complex.  Not just about looking at the data.  Greeks have their own rhythm.  They might window shop some times of day and have the time and inclination to speak to a merchandizer but simply go in to buy supplies quickly at other times.  We have our own holidays and dates which are best to focus on.
  5. Which salespeople are the ones to influence?  Even in these times of multinationals and international (style) marketing, Greek stores often operate in a pretty old fashioned way.  There is often a person who is the gatekeeper for the store to really promote a product.  Often not even on the store floor, this might be the manager (in a smaller store) or the experienced salesperson or the person considered the purchasing expert.

Everyone in Greece has become much better at pretending they are all business when it comes to in store promotions.  They talk the talk and look good on PowerPoint.  But way too often they operate in an old fashioned, conservative and protectionist way.  Your promoters might be shoved to a corner which looks good on paper but doesn’t work, with little help in rush hour and no real support in order to make sales or change people’s opinions of your products.

Start asking these sort of questions though and you might gain enough respect to get your job done.


Social media: turning useful employees into mindless gossip peddlers?

That does it.   Another major Greek corporation inviting all employess to a briefing on social media.   Not “legal issues concerning what you can and can’t write online about the company”.    Not “ten useful things you need to know about how best to integrate social media in your life.”   But “how and why you should spend more time doing marketing for the company doing social media instead of your normal job.”

No two ways around it.   We used to split people within a company to those that faced the customers and those that didn’t.   There are good reasons for this.   Not everyone is good at communication.   Corporate communication is more complicated than private chat.   You need to take into account many more factors and weight them with much more care.   Yet time and time again in the past year I see companies wanting to “enable” all their employees to speak on behalf of the company.   Marketing departments are shrinking and the extra work is going to …everyone!

So Mr Joe from engineering is sitting in a seminar about social media.  His personal facebook page and all 120 friends used to seeing his favourites on youtube, views on politics and photos from his holidays now get a …company press release?  “Hey everybody, my company has a new facebook page, please press ‘like’ immediately!”   This may sound stupid but how far away is it from what is actually happening?

I sometimes have difficulty switching from one project to another.   Especially in the early stages of a job when I have to immerse myself in their world completely in order to discover that best path which they haven’t seen yet.   Like an actor’s studio method I have to become one with the marketing people, management and the customer.   But this is my job and I have developed ways to deal with it.   Your employees haven’t.

If your company has vision, strategy and everything else they keep going on about in these fashionable social media seminars then it wouldn’t need to train everyone in how to use them.    If we all understand the company’s vision, it permeates what we are and what we do.   It will wash through to what employees communicate about on facebook or twitter like it does when they chat to neighboors around the barbeque.   You don’t need to do something special.   Asking them to take on communication tasks carries the most serious risk of them losing focus of what you really hired them to do.   Your entire team can fall apart.   Publicly, on social media!

Ouzo around the world

Ouzo branding case study

Ouzo brands marketing and bottle design
A new category - premium ouzo brands - in Adolo by Plomari

There are many different ouzo brands and the competition is fierce.   So it is interesting when a “new” product comes along.   Even more so when it proposes an unused, yet traditional method of production and unique marketing and bottling.   Quoting from the branding experts that put the whole thing together:

Ouzo brands marketing and bottle design
A new category - premium ouzo brands - in Adolo by Plomari

“Adolo” the best quality ouzo Isidoros Arvanitis could produce.

A pleasant smell of anise, mastic and fennel derives from this premium category ouzo, distilled by an innovative recipe that may change everything taken for granted until now, as far as ouzo flavor is concerned. It is a crystal clear liquid that brings a light sense of its smelling ingredients to the taster’s mouth. According to the myth, the history of ouzo began in late 19th century. Isidoros Arvanitis, from Plomari village, Lesvos island, experimented on various spirits using a lot of different herbs in order to create the “ouzo”. This myth reaches its peak nowadays, again at Plomari village, where the premium ouzo has been created. More over, Isidoros Arvanitis used to name  ”Adolo”, the best quality ouzo he could produce, offering it only to his friends.


Discovering  the premium version of the No. 1 spirit of Greece. The challenge of branding a traditional product for a premium audience.

After the branding success of Ouzo Plomari, the leading Greek spirit drink , Yalos was commissioned to brand its new premium version, called “Adolo”.Our target audience are, opinion leaders who dare to challenge themselves with new choices. The retail environments, are a selection of contemporary bars, gourmet restaurants and of course, glamorous parties. ”Adolo” is a really special spirit, subject to three stages of distillation in order to keep the most valuable part of “the core”. Since, packaging has been proven to be one of the most critical factors in the marketing efforts and ultimate success of a spirit brand, Yalos implemented its expertise packaging design on three axes:

  • Transforming the traditional character of the well established brand of Ouzo Plomari, to an upmarket visual impact.
  • Harmonising the experience of the elegant flavouring of the spirit, with the shape of a crystal clear elegant bottle.
  • Incorporating the visual elements of the distillery brass kettle and hence delivering the look & feel of copper.

Thus creating the first premium ouzo brand of  Greece.



Business Communication

Spam, spam, spam in my Domino’s pizza

Real Beauty in Domino’s pizza campaign in Greece is lost in execution

When I first started getting emails about a free Domino’s pizza some time ago I tried to ignore them. As they persisted and went well past the major spam level I retorted to complain about it in my blog. Added a twist of something more interesting as I usually do. Got it out of my system and forgot about it. Hey that’s what blogs are for!

But the emails persisted. I have lost count but it is very close to fifty separate, identical emails from the same two senders with exactly the same email content. This is probably the worse spamming in Greek internet history. And to make it worse I actually signed up for their damn offer to try and make it stop. I ate it and once again hoped the emails would stop. After all, I signed up with the same email they were spamming.

But like Chinese water torture it dripped on.

So when Domino’s launched their “real beauty” campaign, I was ready for flame wars! I have infinite admiration for the way they are refreshing the entire concept of pizza marketing. Pizzas without any retouching of any sort. And this doesn’t mean they will just pay for better photographers. encourages you to upload your own pizza pictures. ( is much more interesting and “really real” by the way…) Chipotle is also trying this line of “intelligent” advertising by emphasizing the lack of typical images in their ads: We wanted to have farmers in our ads, but what sells are big burritos, not lessons in farming.”

Please, you wonderful and creative people at Domino’s pizza marketing, please check up on local execution. Not even a free pizza a day can save you in my mind now! My waistline can’t afford it and every time I see your logo I connect it with spam…

Business Communication

Follow your bliss: branding is storytelling as an archetype

Heinrich Zimmer was a man with a mission.  You don’t need a guru, he said, you need to find an archetypal myth that applies to your situation and live it through.  His knowledge of Hindu mythology allowed him to interpret works of art through archetypes.  Very Jung-like of him and he greatly influenced my favourite thinker on the subject, Joseph Campbell.

It is a fairly straightforward theory: any story can be categorized in a specific archetypal myth.   A myth that is told and retold since the beginning of human storytelling.  Any journey, be it Lord of the Rings or Rocky IV, has twelve stages.  Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting with the Mentor and so on.  Much like Jung in “Man and his symbols” demonstrated that signs from the swastika to a snake eating it’s tail have followed homo sapiens from his very beginning.  (Great inspiration for logos!)  You can pick a fight with Jung’s last work easily.  Is a lion the same potent symbol today as it was back when I really did fear getting eaten by one daily?  A dragon now that we now all about dinosaurs?  Any symbol in a technologically advanced world which throws any image around the internet and on TV at a breakneck speed?

But you can’t argue with mythological archetypes.  Why?  Because what makes us human is the search for meaning.  Arguably without that, there are no emotions.  And without emotions, there is no marketing.  So, like Zimmer, I say “don’t look for brand gurus”. Follow your bliss and find the myth that applies to your brand.  And the stage it is at.  Start up?  You have seen it a thousand times in those films where a young person suddenly gets thrown into a big adventure.  It seems impossible at first, daunting.  But we learn about his pedigree.  (Good excuse for our brand’s origins.)  Then he finds allies (other companies we are working with) or mentors (brand endorsers).  We are routing for him.  Then we learn about his nemesis.  You can make it specific (“we hate Microsoft” seems to be popular!) or generic “untidy offices drive me mad!”

Myth provides a safe, reliable route to follow.  One that consumers can relate to.  Because the biggest enemy of brand building is incongruity.  Our brains just can’t handle information that seems to make no sense.  Just like in film making or book writing, just because you are following an archetype, doesn’t mean you can’t embelish it, or decide where to place emphasis.  But using well known symbols gives the larger than life effect every brand needs to gain mind share.

Straightfoward stuff.  Now my teaser question: who do you want telling your story?

Business Communication Technology

y2k vs swine flu: lessons for two industries

Everyone in the IT industry pretends it never happened.  One of the most succesful marketing fabrications ever in what is otherwise quite a boring sector.  It generated billions in revenue out of nothing.   The y2k bug was a public relations triumph.  And in many ways, it relied on similar scaremongery as H1N1.  Presidents and prime ministers went on record publicly in order to “raise awareness”.  They authorised massive amounts of public funding in order to counter the potential threat.

Potential” the operative word.  Nobody guaranteed that air control, traffic lights and bank systems would crumble as the Millenium dawned.  But everyone happilly got paid overtime to miss the New Year party.  “Just in case”.

Swine flu, though also grossly overhyped at least had some actual victims!   y2k managed to capitalize on the planet’s fear of robots taking over.  A generation of decision makers seeing technology taking over but at the same time not really understanding how it works.

I must admit that I did not personally mastermind y2k hysteria.  In fact I am one of the very few who publicly, clearly and often stated that it is all complete nonsense.  But now older and wiser I am more interested in the hysteria than the truth.  I want to do a Steve Jobs on the planet by actually causing such irrationality!

It is the Holy Grail of marketing.  Selling services for a non existent threat with all the marketing created by terrified, responsibility fearing civil servants.  Anybody with a passion for serious social engineering please contact me;  with the increased pace of technological adoption and dependence, combined with social media we can do better than y2k and swine flu combined!