PR shock tactics – agrarian edition

To: Greek Farmers Union, Agrinion Chapter

From: ¡Revolución! Communications 

Re: “Project Jihad”

Nice work, guys.

The youtube video of your little conceptual performance at the barricades has gone viral.

First of all, great homage to the ISIS PR machine. Those guys are at the cutting edge (see what I did there?) and you have used their visual vocabulary to great effect: nothing says “holy war” like orange jumpsuits and big knives, and the face masks add a whole new dimension of creepy. Really amps it up on the French-style milk/whitewash-spilling, right? That stuff is just so derivative and passé… Also, I think you’ll agree it’s good to take the heat off that little “incident” the other day: giving stage instructions on-camera at a “spontaneous” protest is “breaking the fourth wall”, you need an educated audience to appreciate the Brechtian reference and not cry “media set-up” like the local heathens.

Second, I know you’ve been getting a lot of heat about this being “offensive”. Now here’s the genius: who are you really offending? Sure, a few hundred thousand women and children risking life and limb to get away from that kind of situation might find it traumatic. But guess what? They don’t have a say on your pensions or your tax regime, so you can offend away! It’s not like you mentioned the Civil War or anything… Is it proportionate? Hell, no. But hyperbole is the name of the game. All publicity is good publicity. The outraged urban elites having conniptions about this on social media are just doing your work for you.

Now you need to keep up the pressure. This was great for getting some advance publicity, but you need to start thinking about the main event.

I will be very disappointed if next week in Syntagma Square I don’t see, in addition to the ninja footwork and the regional beefcake, a nice plump burning effigy in a silk tie and pocket square. At the very least.

 


About ¡Revolución! Communications

If you want to put your views across to a minister or senior government official and you don’t have (a) a lobbying and entertainment budget, (b) a secret “commissions” slush fund, or (c) a relative in the ministry, you need to follow these simple guidelines to get your message across. At ¡Revolución! Communications your mission is our passion.

Read also: our popular briefing Five Steps to Effective Political Communications.

 

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PR shock tactics – agrarian edition

Dear Aunt Cassandra: the yuppies are revolting

PRETTY IN PINK

Dear Aunt Cassandra,

What is it with all the yuppies coming out the woodwork? One day I’m too kool for skool rocking the no-tie look and wiping the floor with the oldsters, the next day I turn up and some preppy d**chebag is chatting up my girl. So what, James Spader, today you’re inviting us to a pool party at daddy’s mansion to humiliate us (as if!), tomorrow you’re done for insider trading. Boom! You’re toast, Duckie the underdog wins the girl (or is it the Andrew McCarthy guy? – must watch “Pretty in Pink” again. Or was I thinking of “The Breakfast Club”? or Ferris Bueller? Yeah I’m definitely Ferris Bueller – dude its been too long since I had a Brat Pack marathon, happy days…). Anyway it’s not like he’s not that cool either – he’s way too old for the floppy hair and he has those weird boggly eyes. And he really is a daddy’s boy. I’m mainly worried that he’ll get an interview with Uncle Wolfgang, and then there goes the summer job at the bank… He’s just the type, neoliberal yuppie scum. “I went to Harvard, dontcha know?” Well check this out, I came tops at Harvard and didn’t even have to pay tuition! 

Then I head downtown to check out the vinyl and it’s wall-to-wall business attire, marching and chanting, like a zombie apocalypse but reeking of Drakkar Noir and Poison. Am I hallucinating, or have the ’80s come back to bite me?

What gives?

Your loving nephew, Alex.

lawyers


 

Dear Alexander,

I wish you wouldn’t use words like “neol*beral”, you know it upsets me when you swear…

Now, be honest with me, are you back on the Ibogaine? Zombie apocalypse in central Athens, indeed… Are you sure it wasn’t the old comrades in their new dress code? There is some pretty ideologically correct neckwear available these days!

As for the other stuff, darling, this isn’t the ’80s and your life isn’t a Brat Pack film. You really need to snap out of it. But while we’re trapped in this unproductive analogy, I should point out that the world has moved on, and James Spader has gone from being the all-purpose Reaganite villain to everyone’s favourite cuddly sex creep. And where is your Andrew McCarthy now? All I’m saying is, you can’t bank on dialectical materialism giving your preppy friend his come-uppance.

It’s a topsy turvy world, my boy. You’re not the underdog anymore. You will just have to deal with it.

Your despairing Aunt Cassandra.

P.S. When you go to Davos next week please don’t crack any jokes about “visiting auntie’s money”, OK? Nobody finds that funny.

 

Images: Title: PRETTY IN PINK • Pers: SPADER, JAMES / RINGWALD, MOLLY • Year: 1986 • Dir: DEUTCH, HOWARD • Ref: PRE016AP • Credit: [ PARAMOUNT / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]; AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis via ajc.com

 

Dear Aunt Cassandra: the yuppies are revolting

Talk of the kafeneio

1wf79du

This week the kafeneio was abuzz with lively debate on the national legacy of one Chrysostomos (Makis) Psomiadis (aka. “Makaros”, aka. “Big Mac”, aka. “Agapoulas”), who died last week of natural causes shortly after being released from prison.

If you read the press or watched the news (examples here and here), you would see that pride of place was given to the deceased’s prominent role in organised sport since the late 1908s (as chairman of AEK Athens basketball and football teams, Ethnikos, Atromitos and Kavala football teams), followed by brief references to his recent convictions for match-fixing and embezzling €21.7 million from AEK Athens, and only discreet allusions to involvement in “business”, “society” and “behind-the-scenes”. The language was respectful, even fond and reverential (his death was “tragic”, “his heart betrayed him”, his passing “mourned” by the sports community).

In the kafeneio, the sentiment was altogether more divided. For some, the deceased should be left to rest in peace. God should be his judge, as he was the son of a priest, and known to be religious. He may have broken the law, but he lived by his own code and only harmed those who crossed him. God bless him, he cared about his teams, taking one of them up two divisions in three years, even if he plundered some and sunk others in the leagues. Whatever you think of him, he was a colourful larger-than-life character, his self-consciously argot-laden and often profane one-liners repeated with fondness (some semi-respectable media outlets even anthologised them for easy reference). Many of his former players, along with A-list performers from his nightclub days and high-profile criminal lawyers who attended his funeral presumably felt the same. The swindled AEK Athens sent a wreath and a lengthy defence of their rationale (presumably some form of corporate Stockholm syndrome?).

Others recalled that he had supported the junta regime torturers at their trials and is accused of enthusiastically joining in the torture himself in a borrowed cassock. That he made his fortune running a protection racket. That in addition to his recent convictions he had been accused of and tried for numerous other crimes (fraud, counterfeiting, kidnapping) in each case being acquitted or released on technicalities (most of these allegations were presented in an ERT documentary broadcast while he was on the run in 2011). That his love of his teams extended to personally threatening and blackmailing his players (a rare account in the English language press comes courtesy of a former NBA transfer to AEK). That his financial affairs (no known assets, cash payments only, black bin liners full of notes in the changing rooms) would make him too obvious a case study for even a beginner’s guide to money laundering. Many recalled listening to a graphic audio recording purporting to be of the deceased torturing a former associate.

And of course there is the political dimension, the kafeneio regulars never missing an opportunity to revive the left-right rifts of the dictatorship era and the civil war. His supporters inevitably accuse his detractors of politically-motivated character assassination (in the words of one shock-jock tabloid site, “Stalinist scum who were too afraid to write these things while he was alive”). The latter then accuse the former of lionising a fascist and a psychopath emblematic of the criminality and corruption that has brought the country to its knees, when they should be lining up the next lamógio for prison instead. There is only one mode of conflict avoidance: the obligatory onslaught of queasy jokes about the new boy on the Devil’s turf, bribes in St Peter’s pocket, the commemorative fixed match. For a moment there is a moratorium on the usual (and more than ever topical) actuarial dissection of pensions. But then they do say that psychological distance has something to do with why everybody loves a mobster.

This is all hearsay of course; I take after Aunt Cassandra who would never venture into the den which she blames for Uncle Aristo’s moral decline, but instead divides her time between the crochet circle and the literary salon. Anyone who wishes to delve into the moral maze of the internet kafeneio is welcome to Google “#RIP_Makaros”, stand back and marvel at the fine discourse.

I was going to write something classy and ever-so-slightly ponderous like “the nation held a mirror up to itself,” but upon reflection I think “barium enema” would be more appropriate to describe the process one uses to look for abnormalities in the nether regions.

Easily confused with:

“Agapoulas”, The central character in a series of humorous mobile phone ads at the height of the deceased’s notoriety, partly responsible for promoting his personal mythology: the similarity of the fictional president of the football team with his use of the trademark phrase “agapoula” (“sweetheart”) and the allusions to legal entanglements and mafia tactics is so close that it’s amazing the deceased did not claim royalties (or maybe he did?).

Not to be confused with: 

Vangelas “Meymar” Meimarakis: despite the superficial resemblance in facial furniture and the similarity in personal style and vocabulary, the frontrunner in Sunday’s leadership elections in opposition party Nea Demokratia is no relation to the deceased.

Panagiotis “Panikos” Psomiadis: despite sharing a surname and a disregard for financial probity, the convicted serial fraudster, Nea Demokratia hanger-on and latterly infomercial shoe salesman, is no relation to the deceased.

 

Image: via makeleio.gr

Talk of the kafeneio

Where the wild things are

arcturos

In 2013 the Greek conservation charity Arcturos returned a controversial €5,000 donation made by the neo-Nazi party Χρυσή Αυγή (Golden Dawn). Golden Dawn had attempted to capitalise on their charitable activity, advertising the fact that their founder was an “animal lover” – presumably not in the sense that they claim Pakistani immigrants “love” their goats, but in the manly, shirt-off in the woods, bonding-and-defending-the-Lebensraum-shooting-at-road-signs sense. Arcturos founder Yiannis Boutaris responded that no amount of money would be enough to “launder” the reputation of the party whom he described as Nazis and killers (he added for good measure that he would happily accept a donation from the Greek Communist Party). Barely a month later, a couple of dozen members including the leadership of Golden Dawn were arrested and charged with being the latter, if not the former.

Whatever Golden Dawn’s motivation, this recent photo demonstrates that they reacted to rejection with typical good grace, respect and above all… love. And they memorialised it with the visual equivalent of kicking a puppy.

Being something of a professional cynic, I was prepared to be sceptical about Arcturos, with its slick anthropomorphic branding, its stylish merchandise and its painfully cute videos of rescued bear cubs. But on our recent visit to the bear sanctuary that Arcturos set up over twenty years ago outside the village of Nypmphaion, in the mountains above lake Kastoria in northern Greece, we were impressed by their efforts. We were given a brief, informative and refreshingly unsentimental tour by a volunteer. The sanctuary houses bears that have been rescued from captivity, either as dancing bears (a common form of entertainment throughout the Balkans, outlawed since the 1960s) or from zoos, or have been hurt in motorway accidents or shootings. The bears in the sanctuary are maintained purely for public awareness purposes, we were told – the only other rational alternative would be euthanasia, since they lack the life skills to survive in the wild or raise cubs. This is certainly not a zoo, and you may or may not see bears on the mountainside when you visit (we definitely saw one and caught a fleeting glimpse of another).

The sanctuary though is only the tip of the iceberg. The charity’s efforts are mainly focussed on studying and protecting the wild population of bears, wolves and other endangered and protected species in the Greek countryside, as well as preserving the Greek sheepdog breed. Their innovations include the devising protective measures for farmers who would otherwise come into conflict with the bears (electric fencing for beehives, effective insurance cover for farmers among others), and intervening to reduce deaths and habitat fragmentation caused by the new high speed road network in the area. Arcturos is only the most public face of an active local conservation effort that is finally starting to reverse the catastrophic population decline of the last century.

In a country which, let’s face it, does not have the best tradition of environmental consciousness or volunteering, it is good to see a cause like conservation entering the mainstream and appearing (even momentarily and controversially) on the political radar. So, thank you, Golden Dawn, for the gift of publicity, and thank you again for the reminder.

Image: photo by Atlantis Host, December 2015.

Where the wild things are