Tight election campaign prompts copycat ads

The late French poet, journalist and novelist Anatole France had some useful advice: “When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple: Take it and copy it.”

As Greece heads to snap elections on Sunday, political parties have heavily drawn from the bottomless well of mostly American campaign ads to get their message across.

Campaign posters put up by Potami, the centrist party led by former journalist Stavros Theodorakis, went viral on Greek social media earlier this week as they looked uncomfortably similar to a design by artist and designer Shepard Fairey which was used to advertise a bag.

Several surveys have demonstrated SYRIZA’s leverage on Greece’s social media. This was once again indicated by the fact that although thousands of tweeps were quick to point out the inspiration behind the Potami ad, the influence of a Dutch team of graphic artists on SYRIZA’s own ads went largely unnoticed. As @LaScapigliata said on Twitter, “SYRIZA’s designers were not at their most original.”

Meanwhile, SYRIZA’s main slogan, “Hope is on its way,” the Efimerida ton Syntakton daily (20.1.2015) reports, was reminiscent of another slogan which was employed by the left during a different, but no less turbulent and painful era. “La alegria ya viene,” was used by the “No” campaign against the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum. The story of that campaign inspired the 2012 movie “No,” directed by Pablo Larrain, which in turn seems to have inspired SYRIZA’s young officials, the newspaper notes.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the slogan “Hope is on its way” hastily replaced the leftist opposition’s original slogan, “The future is already here,” after leftist officials found out it had been used by PASOK in 2000.

Inspiration for SYRIZA’s campaign did not just come from the anti-fascist struggle in Chile, as leftist officials like to admit. It also came from a neo-liberal source, as indicated by the parallels between SYRIZA’s 2012 video and Ronald Reagan’s in 1984.

Perhaps because Greece’s pre-election period is very tight, the admen had to look further afield for inspiration, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Einstein said that “the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” In the Internet age, though, when millions of eyes are watching, hiding your sources is an exercise in futility.