There’s something quite endearing about the photograph accompanying the story that Steve Vranakis, executive creative director at Google Creative Lab, has been appointed chief creative officer of Greece.
Maybe it’s the way that he’s ever-so-slightly leaning into the shoulder of Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in a way that we’ve all done when we’ve bumped into famous people that we don’t really know that well and asked for a snap. Or the way that the PM appears to be affectionately touching the back of his suit jacket without really making any contact at all; the smile of a politician meeting one of his biggest fanboys set firmly to rictus.
Of course, I don’t know the nature of the relationship between Vranakis and Mitsotakis – they could be best friends for all I know – but Vranakis' brief to rebrand this ancient cradle of civilisation suggests that the trust must run deep. The potential for fucking up the "branding" of a nation that has produced, among others, Aristotle, Pericles, Homer and Archimedes with something facile and shallow must weigh more heavily on Vranakis’ shoulders than any other brief he has handled.
But there is clearly work to be done. Greece’s international financial reputation has been in tatters following the global economic crisis, which saw the country lumbered with the highest unemployment rate of any nation in the European Union (not helped by Germany profiting from interest payments made from buying Greek government bonds to prop up its ailing economy). It may take more than a meerkat or a digital installation at the Barbican to restore corporate faith.
But having seen its unemployment rate drop from a high of nearly 28% in May 2013 to 17% in September this year, Vranakis’ hiring as a prime ministerial special advisor (sorry, I mean Greece’s chief creative officer) is at least indicative of further good news for the Greek jobs market.
It’s a shame, of course, that the job didn’t go to a local – and perhaps someone from a younger demographic (youth unemployment stands at one in three) – but Vranakis still has solid Greek credentials, and luring him from a no doubt lucrative job at Google could be interpreted as a statement of intent. And it is also, perhaps, an example of a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Greek concept of hubris.