Adverts urge shoppers to cherish their cents

The young shopper can’t be bothered with all the little coins making up his 80-cent change. «Never mind the coins,» he tells the grocer, «just give me a stick of chewing gum.» But the flustered shopkeeper gives him a pack of spaghetti, a croissant and the gum, all for a total of 80 cents. Both are actors – the grocer played by veteran comedian Thanassis Vengos – in a TV advert launched yesterday by the Economy Ministry, which hopes to talk Greeks out of their cavalier approach to the low end of the new currency. «Cents are valuable,» is the main theme of three-and-a-half weeks of advertising. Heedless of its own message, the ministry is forking out 1.1 million euros for the campaign. Many Greeks still seem unaware that the new copper one- and two-cent coins are 3.4 times as valuable as the old drachma coins. The government has backed calls for the one- and two-euro coins to be replaced by banknotes.