It is probably one of the most difficult advertising briefs ever
issued: develop a campaign to run across 12 countries and appeal both to
businesses and to consumers of all age groups. Your campaign must also
face hostility towards the product that is only intensified by the
public's ignorance of it. Oh yes, the product in question is a new
currency and it has to be launched on the cusp of an economic
This unenviable task - the launch of the euro - has fallen to Publicis
Frankfurt, which has set up what it calls the Euroburo to handle it. The
network has developed the campaign with Portuguese-born Joao de Almeida,
the European Central Bank's project manager for the euro 2002
The fruit of the partnership - an 80 million euro campaign (£50
million or thereabouts) - was unveiled at an all-singing, all-dancing
press conference in Frankfurt last week.
The first of the TV ads features a flying euro coin that passes over
Greek temples, Atlantic coastlines and ends up being used as currency in
a nightclub. Others highlight the notes' watermarks and holograms. Were
they run in the UK, they'd be unlikely to convince the country's
The feeling of the campaign is summarised in the strapline: "The
Almeida and the Euroburo are targeting 300 million Europeans with the
work, or all "cash handlers", as Almeida puts it. "The campaign targets
everybody," he says. "We didn't structure it by targets. We have
combined and developed the communication in a way that is suitable for
He adds: "We developed the same creative campaign for 12 countries. They
are the exact same TV and print ads, with the exception of
In order to ensure that the work doesn't end up being wishy-washy
because of the breadth of its audience, Almeida and Publicis called in
the focus groups. "We have put special emphasis on qualitative creative
research," Almeida says. "We've tested it in 12 countries with focus
groups including several targets. So we're confident we can target them
The principal function of the campaign is to inform. It needs to let
Europeans know about the timing of the euro's introduction and
familiarise them with the notes and coins. To limit counterfeiting, it
must also draw attention to watermarks and holograms.
By making it an information campaign, Almeida is hoping to skirt around
the emotional and political issues surrounding the euro. Many people
fear that retailers will round up their prices as the euro is
introduced, others think its introduction will facilitate money
laundering. Then there are nationalists who will see the loss of their
domestic currency as an unmitigated tragedy.
He says: "Our major goal is to explain better - to inform in an engaging
way about the product. It's a product-focused campaign."
However, Publicis' Barbara Lutz, who runs the 27-strong Euroburo, is
adamant that the work should appeal to Europeans on an emotional level
in order to ensure that they engage with the new product. Whether this
succeeds or not is open to dispute. The commercials feature positive
emotional scenes, which often seem stranded in Werthers Original
territory. In one, two rosy-cheeked children stand in a generic northern
European rural area buying crisp apples from a kindly old man with a
two-euro coin. A print execution shows football fans cheering as their
side scores. Sporting an appropriately non-national strip, one clutches
a 50-euro note.
Lutz says: "The launch spot is emotional. There's a focus on the scale
of the endeavour and the fact that it is touching 300 million Europeans.
It must stress the scale and the European element, then show the product
and give information about the notes and security features.
This is a very historic moment. It's very important for all of us. If
you are only trying to give factual information, it does not work.
People know intellectually that they must pay attention, but first you
have to engage them."
Almeida is enthusiastic about the scale and detail of the campaign. He
talks of the year-old partnership programme, which involved private
companies in disseminating information on the euro. He excitedly
describes the distribution of press kits to 3,500 journalists and the
drop of 200 million leaflets to European households in the last phase of
All in all, his attitude to marketing hints at his bureaucratic
Almeida, 37, specialised in European law before leading the Portuguese
national euro campaign for the Ministry of Finance in that country. He
has completed a business management course, but the word "marketing" is
distinctly absent from his CV.
It's tempting to put the safe, bland nature of the euro advertising down
to this personal background, but the fact is that the greatest FMCG
marketer would have had trouble with the currency launch brief. The
breadth of its extremely diverse audience, coupled with the political
sensitivities of its introduction, has meant that feel-good, generic
advertising was the only real option for Almeida and the Euroburo.