«Truth is our most important property,» claims the president of the Hellenic Advertisers’ Association (EDEE), Stavros Leoussis, speaking to Kathimerini about the state of the industry on the occasion of the body’s new campaign to promote the usefulness of advertising tools. Aimed at the sectors that have not adopted advertising yet, and supported significantly by companies advertised, the campaign promotes the benefits and mainly the added value that advertising offers to companies and their products or services. The need for the campaign comes from the state of the market today, says Leoussis. «Advertising is not at the levels it should and could have been over the last four years. The Olympic Games did not help at all, as the four years before them had misled the market to a significant extent,» suggests a disappointed Leoussis. «In many cases, entrepreneurs made wrong judgments about the improvement of the economic conjunction, were proven wrong and now are in a difficult position. At the same time, of course, there have been some benefits from the Games that will show in the future,» he adds. The general economic hardship is certainly not exclusive to Greece, as it has also hit Europe and America. Leoussis, however, notes that conditions are gradually improving in the US, so there is hope that Europe will follow soon. «In the last few years, though, there is no momentum for entry into the Greek market, mainly for three reasons: Domestic companies’ aversion to advertising, lack of sufficient and impartial information about specific services in the broader sector, and of course the negative economic conjunction,» the EDEE head points out. The main problem, he argues, lies in the fact that most businesses do not grasp the significance of brand building. «Multinational enterprises spend considerable amounts of money on this process precisely because they recognize that brand, or the positive connotation a product will have in consumers’ conscience, constitutes a strategic weapon against rivals. This element must be made clear to Greek enterprises seeking the appropriate competitive advantage in order to stand out in a market under great pressure.» Leoussis finds there are local entrepreneurs who realize the advantages of brand building and invest in it. The broader business community must understand, though, that the brand name is a very big asset, exceeding financial assets and all other investments, being in essence a chunk of capital of great value. «If Greek companies wish to be successful, they have to start from somewhere. We have to reach higher ground because the market has become very competitive in Greece, just like abroad.» Building a brand name is a long, continuous and arduous effort that provides added value to the product. It is a 20th century development. «It constitutes the cornerstone of consumers’ protection, which concentrates responsibility on the consumer to request it and the producer to provide it: It is the creation of a responsibility entity,» Leoussis underlines. Hence each brand product corresponds to its name, as there have been similar investments in it and there is no question of consumers being misled. «Under no circumstance does misleading the consumer make sense. Any company that does so will strategically self-destruct. Besides that, there are specific self-committing rules in advertising companies and there are no instances of deception, deliberately at least,» says Leoussis. «Whoever misleads consumers only has a short-term benefit, while building a brand name is a long-term commitment bringing considerable benefits to the consumer, too. It cuts prices as the client basis expands, it contributes to pluralism in information by funding the media, and it assists in recreation. It is not a exaggeration that advertising is a significant expression of democracy,» he stresses. EDEE’s campaign began in late April and concludes this month before restarting in September. Its potential audience is companies which never used to advertise but now recognize that need, such as the construction sector, which is gradually entering the real estate domain. «We intend to inform businesspeople that advertising should not be considered an emergency weapon, that is in cases of crisis, but as a useful, lasting tool handled with seriousness and professionalism. There are products in Greece that are not supported by advertising as they should have been; there are cooperatives with remarkable products such as Chios mastic that only in the last couple of years has got the advertising it deserves,» the EDEE president says. In this context, the campaign is supporting professionally structured communication units, according to Leoussis, making it known that amateurism is not accepted in advertising, «while the company’s interests are not served when there is no professionalism.» Indeed, in such a densely populated industry such as advertising, potential clients are finding it hard to choose the appropriate advertiser. Leoussis notes there are about 300 companies registered, out of which only 45 are members of EDEE. Yet those 45 companies take some 85 percent of the total turnover of the market. «There are advertisers today who exclusively serve one client. You cannot serve a client if you depend on him. Such phenomena distort the market, as they do not adhere to the basic principles of advertising. You cannot exhibit your truth, you cannot love your client and therefore you cannot serve him when you become the client’s official. And truth is our most important property,» concludes Leoussis.