Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance – Plato
In the late Spring of 2018 the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organisation helped organize an amazing cultural event in Heraklion. The Contemporary Minoans design event held 11 and 12 May at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum should have been made Crete branding exercise, but it wasn’t. Instead, the event stands as a stark reminder of what the term “uncommitted” means for Greece.
When the Cultural Organisation Branding Heritage envisioned a two-day cultural showcase to feature the intersection of ancient craft and culture with modern design, I am sure the mission was a meaningful and broad recognition of the wonders of the Minoans, Crete, current
Imagine if you can organizers arranging for the works of designers and artisans like Ms. Kokosalaki, Greek ceramist Dimitris Z. Stathopoulos, and contemporary designers KLOTHO, plus many others – and every media outlet from Sitia to Athens does not show up and report. Did somebody drop the marketing ball? Were there no public relations effort or media outreaches? Or was the outreach and publicity underfunded? Whatever the case, no decision maker or sponsor gained one-one hundredth of the result that might have been. How can I know this, you ask? Well, for one thing, I was in the museum looking on at one point. And for another, nobody even so much as sent a press release to anyone in media I am associated with. Trust me, had you seen the unbelievable exhibits of recreations and modern concepts in clothing design shown off by KLOTHO in the museum, you’d agree wholeheartedly that a lot more should have been done to promote these events. If I owned one of these amazing companies, I would have been livid over the seemingly lackadaisical local effort. How is it possible that the Exclusive Communication & Campaigning Consultant to the European Commission Representation in Greece, Militos Consulting could fail to engage the hundreds of media outlets that report on culture, fashion, design, and high profile dignitaries passing by?
If you can, envision what sort of fumble-mindedness it requires to have the Prince of Whales and his wife engaged and interested in the exhibition and with Minoan Civilization, and for only two (Vogue) major media stories (BBC blurb) to arise out of this! Unfathomable, you say? My sentiments exactly. And doing further research into the branding eventartisans I find a familiar motif, a characteristic set of good intentions and ideas underprioritized and only supported with lip service by alleged sponsors. Greece’s most important media, Ekathemerini sponsored these events with an awe-inspiring 87 words of a single news story reporting Minoan culture is still exists in our collective memory. This
Look at the Facebook profile of the Branding Heritage Project here. Considering Vogue’s seems to have been influenced through jewelry designer Sophia
Even the trailer created for the events views like a mutual Greek political gratification society meeting with the regional governor and other actors playing nice in front of some Minoan banners and awards handouts. It’s as if the whole process were designed to convince Greeks the government is actually doing something. Or in short, the events of Contemporary Minoans ended up as a political commercial wrapped and trapped inside Greek media. In the end, I think the organizers simply relied on tourist flows in Heraklion to populate and further brand this great Minoan style. How sad, even the political commercial in Greek only got 35 views on YouTube.
Look at the Brand Heritage website for further clues as to how “sponsors” seem to have contributed virtually nothing but their emblems to a fine effort. The site is not even completed as I write this. Love Greece and a few other vested interests reported, but only four people on Twitter seem to have even created a #hashtag for any of the wonderful exhibition events.
Photography enthusiast Maria L, Endeavor Greece founder Mareva Grabowski, and Apivita Greece were the throng of social media influencers helping turn these amazing workshops and exhibits into viral branding blocks. Please excuse the sarcasm, I have beat my head against the wall trying to help Crete and other regional players bust out of the mud of relative digital obscurity for years now. There were also a couple of Instagram shares from people involved, but other than this my Instagram below to prove I was there and not lying with a forked tongue not much was done to promote the stunning Minoan style.
For those among you who were trying to take part in and promote the
Contemporary Minoans endeavor, I am sorry to rain on the nice little parade. But if I do not, your next endeavor will perform the same kind of relative belly flop this one did. Come on, England’s most famous prince shows up to gawk and nobody’s got a picture
Letting the folks at Branding Heritage off the hook for the moment, in 2014 a friend and former client who’s a prominent hotel owner on Crete was the star actor in a similar fumbling media and branding fiasco when we were trying to lift his hospitality name over all others here on the island. At a point, we reach a modicum of success, but I engage my friend to “please” have his people share every scrap of a story with us, so as to include the hotel (which shall go unnamed) in news. Of course, he assured me his whole staff would cooperate. Then two days later a huge concert featuring a list of notable performers took place right under the roof garden of the hotel. I was in Germany at the time, so the music was not echoing in the ears of any of our PR team.
A day later when I questioned my friend, his reply should have warned me of the obtuseness of Greek business people to come. “Phil, that concert was no big deal,” he told me. Yes, it was no big deal to a control freak Greek tycoon hell-bent on becoming a billionaire, but for ten thousand spectators and his hotel guests, for the further extension of his brand – it was a token to the next phase of visibility. God knows who was at that concert who might have become a brand ambassador? The problem on Crete, in Greece, and throughout Europe is a lack of real understanding as to how influence and media work. For some context, please Google French painter Eugène Delacroix, whose work is currently on exhibit at the Metropolitan and in the Louvre.
I can give you 50 examples of equal or worse fumbling on account of either lack of budget, understanding, or genuine caring by individuals, huge resorts, international hotel brands, and so on. And while the developing world is a couple of light years behind my American colleagues, there’s ample evidence of branding and PR stupidity even in Silicon Valley and New York City. Please, don’t let me start. The point here is not to bash and criticize, but to inform. Crete, as a point of special interest to me, is the one place on Earth that deserved perfect publicity, perfect public relations, and perfect practice where marketing and coordination are concerned. If we cannot portray the everlasting wonders of the Minoans to the world with pride, then what chance do lesser creativity and value have? Making Greeks famous in Greece for emulating ancient Minoan creativity is not what one should consider brand reach.
Now let me set you to thinking, leaving you with a quote from the founder of the aforementoned designer Sophia Kokosalaki, whose jewelry concepts graced the exhibit at the Contemporary Minoans events.
“Crete is a culture that just keeps on giving. Every time I approach the island by boat or plane, I feel emotional.”