CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF - EasyJet enjoys its martyrdom. The airline’s boss was the real winner in the Athens court battle. By John Tylee

By JOHN TYLEE, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 July 1998 12:00AM

Stelios Hadji-Ioannou lost an advertising battle in an Athens court last week. But in the war for the hearts and minds of punters clamouring for cheap air tickets, the EasyJet boss is the victor.

Stelios Hadji-Ioannou lost an advertising battle in an Athens court

last week. But in the war for the hearts and minds of punters clamouring

for cheap air tickets, the EasyJet boss is the victor.



As a Greek bearing gifts - 800 free round-trip tickets to London - the

airline’s founder once again showed his flair for outflanking his

opponents.



Not only did the stunt provide him with an army of enthusiastic

supporters, as he took on Greek travel agents who claimed his

advertising amounted to ’commercial hooliganism’, but it had his

marketers indulging in an orgy of self-congratulation.



’Eight hundred seats is a fraction of our load factor between Athens and

London but the PR mileage we got was fantastic,’ his spokesman

crows.



’Everybody in Greece now knows what EasyJet is and that we’re

direct-sell.



As for the court’s ruling, who cares?’



Actually, Greece’s travel agents care a lot and have won a temporary

injunction banning EasyJet running ads that advise consumers to ’Forget

your travel agent.’ The ads, they say, are misleading because the quoted

price excludes airport tax and omits that passengers must pay for food

and drinks.



The judge will give his ruling in September and EasyJet admits it would

relish a defeat to reinforce its credentials as a ’people’s airline’

before it prepares to perform more tricks at the European Court.



So far, it’s all been good fun as Hadji-Ioannou thumbs his nose at

Greece’s excessively strict commercial communications laws and, by

implication, exposes the massive inefficiency of the national flag

carrier, Olympic.



The case is unlikely to have legal repercussions elsewhere. Philip

Circus, the Newspaper Society’s advertising law consultant, says the

ruling would carry no weight with a British court.



But should the case come before the European Court, Lionel Stanbrook,

the Advertising Association’s deputy director-general, believes the

result could put the claims of the growing numbers of direct-sell

advertisers - from insurance companies to banks - under scrutiny. For

some, a Greek tragedy may be waiting to unfold.



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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