AMALIA ELEFTHERIADOU, AND THE QUESTION OF ADVERTIZING, 1950’s -1970’s

TO INVESTIGATE

Our purpose here is to investigate the discourse of advertizing in the 1950’s-1970’s period. We shall attempt to come up with some sort of typology of such discourse, and draw conclusions as to the implications of such typology with respect to Greek youth in the period, and especially as regards Greek female youth in the 1960’s. Throughout this paper, we shall try to examine the relation that pertained between advertizing discourse and a Greek female working youth such as Amalia Eleftheriadou, the White-Collar employee (“Clerk”) at the A&M Mill at Aliarto, whose life we are investigating both as employee and as youth in the 1960’s-early-1970’s socio-cultural milieu. To the extent that Amalia is representative of a “type” of person in the period under discussion (the “Amalia-type”), we shall try to understand how such type “lived” her relationship to the advertizing discourse that bombarded her.

We know that Amalia lived at Aliarto and worked at the A&M Mill from 1966 and through to the fall of the Military Dictatorship, a period of time when, as we shall see, advertizing in Greece blossomed. A number of basic questions shall inevitably arise: for instance, how did such a young female youth, living in a semi-rural area outside Athens, respond to the “global” messages that many advertisements carried, and with which she had direct contact through mass popular periodicals such as the  Romantso [Ρομάντσο]? Alternatively, one needs to also investigate the extent to which advertisements published in such popular magazines or presented at the Aliarto local cinema were in fact permeated by international “stereotypes” and the extent to which they also projected “national/“localist”/ “traditional discourse. To the extent that such latter discourse was itself present in advertisements, we shall need to here again investigate how the “Amalia-type” would respond to such “Greekness” in the discourse.

In coming up with some sort of typology of Greek advertizing discourse, we shall try to identify degrees of “provocative-interventionism” in particular advertisements, whereby their discourse would try to impose “stereotypes” on consumers in manners which fully disregarded the pre-existing cultural practices and traditional values of Greeks at the time (e.g. the so-called “Americanization” of life). Similarly, we shall try to identify degrees of “compromising adjustment” in yet other advertisements, whereby, in this case, their discourse would try to take into consideration the pre-existing cultural practices/values of consumers, and thus presuppose some kind of active interaction between consumer and advertizing company.

The structure of the text that follows will be organized around two central axes: we shall categorize advertisements in terms of the degree of balances they maintained (or did not maintain) between “provocative-interventionism” and “compromising adjustment” in their discourse and, further, we shall try to identify the specific “cultural content” of each such advertisement. We shall also examine what we call the “positive material content” of all advertizing discourse. Of course, before we even attempt such a methodology in dealing with the phenomenon of advertizing, we shall have to consider the manner in which Greek “intellectuals” at the time themselves dealt with the phenomenon (itself closely related to the phenomenon of consumerism in the 1960’s-1970’s) – and we shall have to do this because such “intellectuals” were to themselves play some role in determining how people viewed/related to advertisements. Both the discourse of advertisements and the theoretical discourse that unfolded in trying to position itself with respect to the phenomenon of advertizing, shall here be approached as more or less objective historical phenomena of the past that now await to be explained from a somewhat ‘neutral’ distance.

Such ‘neutral’ historicist distance cannot of course apply to present-day theoretical attempts at explaining what happened then. We have found some such attempts both useful in the hard facts they have come up with but also thoroughly disappointing in that their angle is either helplessly oversimplistic or still burdened with the ideological biases of the 1960’s-1970’s period. As to the problem of oversimplicity, we may very briefly consider here a text, entitled «Η Διαφήμιση στην Ελλάδα από το 1940 έως το 1990» (cf. “diafimisi” – http://diafimisi .wiki spaces.com), and which draws the following conclusions as regards the 1960’s-1980’s period:

«Η συλλογικότητα του ’60 και η εσωτερικότητα του ’70 δίνουν [in the 1980’s] τη θέση τους στη φιλάρεσκη αυτάρκεια του ατομισμού – του νέου εγωισμού» (p. 5).

Even at mere face value, such an observation is an obviously oversimplified periodization of the “common nous, and covers a span of thirty years wherein the so-called social psyche cannot possibly be reduced to all-inclusive abstractions such as «συλλογικότητα», etc. Yet still, one needs to admit that such observation does point to possible dominant tendencies within the 30-year period.

A contemporary theoretical attempt dealing with the question of advertizing and which remains burdened with the ideological biases of the 1960’s-1970’s, is that of E. Roupa (cf. Ευφροσύνη Ρούπα, «Η κατανάλωση στην Ελλάδα κατά τη μεταπολεμική εικοσαετία 1945-1967: «πατριωτική πράξη», «ξενική επίδραση» ή εθνικό «χαρακτηριστικό»;…», Ελληνική Ιστορική Εταιρεία, histsociety.web.auth.gr/Ρούπα-praktika%202011.pdf). We have here, yet another attempt at a periodization of the phenomenon of consumerism in Greece – though it too is based on conceptual tools that remain highly problematic. Consider the following quote:

«Μέχρι τα μέσα της δεκαετίας του 1950 η κατοχή
υλικών αγαθών ερμηνεύονταν ως τεκμήριο
ανάπτυξης και ευημερίας. Από τα μέσα της δεκαετίας
του 1950 η κατανάλωση θεωρήθηκε ως η μόνη εγγύηση
ευτυχίας στη ζωή, το σημαντικότερο μέσο προσωπικής
ικανοποίησης καθώς και κοινωνικής καταξίωσης και
ανέλιξης. Στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του 1960 άρχισε να
αναδύεται το ερώτημα αν η κατοχή των υλικών αγαθών
είχε σχέση με την πνευματική ανάπτυξη» (p. 255).

Roupa’s “periodization” as to the consumption of goods in Greece comes down to three different ways in which the act of consumption had been seen through the years: firstly, it had been seen as a criterion of “development”; but then, secondly, it was considered to be a guarantee of “happiness”; and then, finally, as something which had raised doubts as to what constituted “spiritual development”. The writer of course implies that such different manners of interpreting consumerism constituted the discourse of “dominant” ideology, and as that was inscribed in advertizing discourse itself, bar the third and final interpretation of consumerism, which itself expressed the critique of “Left” thinkers. Now, such an attempt to periodize the phenomenon of consumerism – as also the interpretations that went with it – is of course of importance to social history, to the extent that it identifies ruptures in the continuity of advertizing discourse in Greece, or ruptures in the interpretation of it. But terms such as «ανάπτυξη», «ευτυχία» and «πνευματικό» are so abstract, so subjective and so vague, that they cannot possibly be used as tools of any periodization whatsoever. Even if they were to be accepted as “tools”, they would have to be explained in sociological terms and without passing any “ethical” judgment on them. For our purposes, no general periodization will be attempted, it being beyond our limits. But we may keep Roupa’s descriptive subjectivity in mind, as we try to understand how the “Amalia-type” of the 1960’s related to advertisements, and as we shall try at the same time to understand how Greek “intellectuals” of the period themselves saw such relationship.

GLOSSARY OF GREEK TERMS

● «ανάπτυξη», «ευτυχία», «πνευματικό»: development, happiness, the spiritual
● «αυτάρκεια του ατομισμού»: individualistic self-sufficiency
● «εσωτερικότητα»: esoteric consciousness
● «Η Διαφήμιση στην Ελλάδα από το 1940 έως το 1990»: “Advertizing in Greece from 1940 to 1990”.
● «συλλογικότητα»: collective consciousness

SOME BRIEF NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF ADVERTIZING IN GREECE

As regards the period prior to the 1940’s, we know that Greek advertisements lacked any “structured” discourse meant to coax consumers into buying the particular product – all they did was to simply make a reference to the object advertized (and cf. A. Altiparmakidou, «Το ραδιόφωνο στην Ελλάδα», eureka.lib.teithe.gr.8080/bitstream/.../Altiparmakidou, 2010, p. 2). But this must be taken to apply only generally to the quality of advertisements at the time, and with special reference to the pre-War period. Writing of the late-1940’s, this is what Menis Koumandareas has to say of the Athens city-centre at the time:

«Κέντρο ήταν η Σταδίου και Πανεπιστημίου, όπου μόνον
εκεί  υπήρχαν μαγαζιά … και ρεκλάμες πολύχρωμες».
(cf. Menis Koumandareas, Σεραφείμ και Χερουβείμ [Seraphim and Cherubim], Κέδρος 1981, p. 95).
Most probably, Koumandareas is pointing to the very first of multi-coloured bill-boards to ever appear in Greece, and which could only have happened in the heart of central Athens, or only thereabouts.

By the early 1950’s, we have the first rudiments of the spread of the advertizing phenomenon around Athens, and which was to take a very special form – Koumandareas describes the matter as follows:

«Υστερότερα, τον πήραν [i.e. someone trying to land a
job in Athens] σ’ ένα γραφείο στην Κάνιγκος τοιχοκολλητή,
του ’διναν μια δέσμη, έναν κουβά κόλλα και γύριζε την
Αθήνα νύχτα … κόλλησε στους τοίχους από οδοντόπαστες και
σουτιέν μέχρι …[etc.]» (Koumandareas, op. cit., p. 216).

The reference to «τοιχοκολλητές» working the streets of night-time Athens, and putting up street posters in the early 1950’s, certainly conjures up an image of cheap and primitive promotion techniques – and yet Altiparmakidou (ibid.) observes that the “structured” message in Greek advertisements had already made its appearance within the decade of the 1950’s.

The appearance of “structured” discourse in the period of the 1950’s is verified – at least as a programmed intention in the process of being researched – by the periodical Παραγωγικότης – Όργανον του Ελληνικού Κέντρου Παραγωγικότητος (έτος Δ’ – αρ. 28 – Αθήναι, Απρίλιος 1958). This organ of the historically important “ΕΛ.ΚΕ.ΠΑ”, which functioned «μέ τήν συμπαράστασιν τής ενταύθα Αμερικανικής Αποστολής», and in cooperation with ΣΕΒ (according to an insert of the periodical), had this to say as regards the development of technical methods for the promotion of products and how this needed to be researched:

«Εταιρία πρός βελτίωσιν τών μεθόδων εμπορίας…
Είς τό Ελληνικόν Κέντρον Παραγωγικότητος συνεκροτήθη
τελευταίως σύσκεψις εκπροσώπων διαφόρων εμπορικών,
διαφημιστικών κ.λ. επιχειρήσεων, κατά τήν οποίαν συνεζητήθη
τό θέμα τής σκοπιμότητος ιδρύσεως εταιρίας, διά την βελτίωσιν
των μεθόδων εμπορίας (Greek marketing Association).
Απεφασίσθη δέ, κατ’ αρχήν, η σύστασης τοιαύτης εταιρίας. Αί
σχετικαί  λεπτομέρειαι θά ρυθμισθούν είς προσεχή
συνεδρίασιν» (p. 209).

The quote clearly shows that, by the late 1950’s, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ was already undertaking initiatives for the establishment of formal organizational structures whose purpose it would be to produce better, more “structured” advertizing discourse – at this point, methods of promotion were to be researched («μεθόδων εμπoρίας»). As we shall further see below, such methods would also include attempts at “compromising” with the Greek consumer in manners which would take into account the socio-cultural and economic reality of the popular masses – in that sense, the sheer presence of the latter would itself function in ways which determined the content of advertizing discourse.

It was of course the decade of the 1960’s that was to bring about truly radical changes in the field of the Greek advertizing sector. Contrasting the pre-World War II period to that of the 1960’s, Roupa (op. cit., p. 262) observes:

«Προπολεμικά λειτουργούσαν στη χώρα τέσσερις
διαφημιστικές εταιρείες. Στα μέσα της δεκαετίας
του 1960 ασχολούνταν άμεσα ή έμμεσα με τη
διαφήμιση 170 επιχειρήσεις».

Similarly, Altiparmakidou (ibid.) has observed that the 1960’s period, characterized by a variety of ‘revolutionary’ changes, was marked by the rise of consumerism and thus also by a focus on advertizing as a marketing technique – so much so that such technique/s actually advertized themselves (obviously to producers of products – for instance, an advertizing company by the name of “SERVIS” would promote its all-new marketing techniques to manufacturers and commercial outlets in an advertisement placed in the daily newspaper Ακρόπολις, 28.1.1966, p. 7). Altiparmakidou further verifies the existence of important indigenous Greek marketing companies operating at the time.

As regards the rise of consumerism and the related development of advertizing techniques in the 1960’s, A.G. has observed (in unpublished research notes) the pioneering usage of advertizing in the promotion of “ION” («σοκολάτα γάλακτος με αμύγδαλα»). She notes:

«Στις δεκαετίες του 1960 [and then on to the 1970’s],
η ΙΟΝ ήταν από τις πρώτες εταιρείες στην Ελλάδα που
χρησιμοποίησαν ενεργά τη διαφήμιση, πρώτα την
έντυπη και αργότερα με την εξάπλωση της τηλεόρασης
τα διαφημιστικά σποτ».

According to A.G., advertizing techniques in the 1960’s were first mainly in printed form, appearing in magazines and newspapers. She goes on to observe (accurately or not remains to be verified) that advertisements then gradually were to be relayed through the radio, and then later, especially by the 1970’s, we had the use of advertizing spots on TV. While such observations may not be accurate as regards the general history of advertizing in Greece, they seem to somehow apply to the particular ION product.

Wolfgang Koeppen, the German writer who travelled around Greece in 1961, noted the sheer ubiquity of advertisements, especially in Athens. In his excellent little book, Οι απόγονοι της Σαλαμίνας ή Οι βαρύθυμοι Έλληνες (University Studio Press, Salonika, 2009), he observed at the time:

«Σ’ όλες τις στέγες φεγγοβολούν ρεκλάμες…
Μια διψασμένη καταβόθρα διαφημίζει τη
μπίρα του Γερμανού ζυθοποιού Φιξ» (p. 16).

A bit further in that same book, he again refers to the ubiquity of advertisements and alludes to the up-and-coming dominance of advertizing, even since 1961 – as he so eloquently puts it:

«Η Ακρόπολη κρέμεται μετέωρη στον ουρανό,
υποστηριγμένη από το φως των διαφημίσεων
σαν εμπορικό σήμα κατατεθέν» (p. 38).

And yet, and having said all this, we still need to emphasize that in the decade of the 1960’s, the Greek advertizing sector remained relatively atrophic in contrast to what was to come later, in the 1970’s (let alone the 1980’s). Perhaps this is why the http://diafimisi source cited above insists as follows with respect to the 1960’s advertizing sector in Greece:

«Παρόλα αυτά ο κλάδος είναι ακόμα στο
περιθώριο» (p. 3).

As for the 1970’s, Altiparmakidou (ibid.) notes that it is then that the first important American and European advertizing companies establish themselves in the country (though this too awaits its verification by the historian). All we need say at this point is that in the early 1970’s we have clear evidence that advertizing techniques are being further promulgated and the advertizing sector is presented as a field of “creativity”, meant to attract both the manufacturers and young candidate careerists in the sector of professional advertizing creation. In 1974, for instance, the periodical  Epikaira [Επίκαιρα] (3-9 October, No. 322) presented advertizing as follows:

«Τί προσφέρει η διαφήμισις…
Η πρωταρχική… γοητεία της διαφημίσεως είναι
η παντελής έλλειψις ανίας. Η διαρκής αίσθησις
της  προσωπικής δημιουργίας…» (p. 47).

GLOSSARY

● «ΕΛ.ΚΕ.ΠΑ.»: Greek Productivity Centre (ELKEPA)
● «με την συμπαράστασιν της… Αμερικανικής Αποστολής»: with the support of the American Economic Mission to Greece (commencing 1947)
● «Οι απόγονοι της Σαλαμίνας ή Οι βαρύθυμοι Ελληνες»: “The descendants of Salamis or the brooding Greeks”.
● «ΣΕΒ»: The Federation of Greek Industries
● «σοκολάτα γάλακτος με αμύγδαλα»: milk chocolate with almonds – and cf. www.ion.gr/en/history.html
● «Το ραδιόφωνο στην Ελλάδα»: “The radio in Greece”.
● «τοιχοκολλητές»: workers doing poster sniping

BROAD DISSEMINATION OF ADVERTIZING THROUGH POPULAR PERIODICALS AND THE RADIO

Because our central focus is on the “Amalia-type” person, residing outside Athens at Aliarto, it is of interest to us to confirm the extent to which such a young female was exposed to the advertizing discourse of the period. We have elsewhere dealt with the complex relationship between the “cultural centre” of Athens and “cultural peripheries” such as Boeotia. Here, we may simply note that the popular periodicals of the time – major disseminators of advertizing discourse such as the Romantso – were especially popular in the rural or semi-rural areas of Greece. And especially as regards the Romantso itself, Roupa has very usefully discovered through her research work that this particular periodical was the first in terms of circulation numbers in the 1960’s. Such “discovery”, of course, is well known to whoever lived the period of the sixties, but it is of importance nonetheless to simply record the matter as a historical fact. She writes:

«…το Δεκέμβριο του 1964 το ‘Ρομάντσο’ πούλησε
94.750 αντίτυπα…» (p. 263).

No other periodical would sell as much. But generally all Athens-based popular periodicals such as the Romantso would be shared by readers in the “peripheries”, given the relative dearth of other reading material in such areas (the sharing would take place amongst family members, neighbours, shop clients, in coffee shops, etc.). The implication is that advertisements carried by such periodicals would bring the “Amalia-type” into direct contact with the type of advertizing discourse circulating around Athens itself (we may note here in passing that local newspapers circulating within Boeotia, such as the Aliartian-based Voiotike Floga[Βοιωτική Φλόγα] published in the 1960’s, were characterized by too “conservative” an outlook to effect such a contact with the “centre”). With reference to the Athens popular periodicals of the time, Roupa summarizes her findings as follows:

«Ας σημειωθεί ότι τα εν λόγω περιοδικά είχαν
ιδιαίτερη ζήτηση στην ελληνική περιφέρεια, όπου
οι ευκαιρίες ψυχαγωγίας ήταν λιγότερες από
την πρωτεύουσα» (ibid., my emph.).

The quote above certainly reinforces what we have observed elsewhere as to the role of popular periodicals in the “cultural peripheries” of 1960’s Greece (but which is not meant to suggest that periodicals were the one and only source of contact between “centre” and “periphery”). Further and as already suggested, the quote implies that the “Amalia-type” would “live” cultural events and trends taking place in the “centre” via such periodicals. Finally, we should note that Roupa supports her findings by making use of source material available in «Ελληνική ζωή και ξένη οικονομία: Εβδομαδιαία», in Viomichaniki Epitheorisis [transl.: Industrial Review –  Βιομηχανική Επιθεώρησις], No. 32 (April 1965), p. 253.

Apart from the popular periodicals circulating around Aliarto week in and week out, the “Amalia-type” would of course also have daily access to the radio (cf. our paper examining the role of the radio in the 1960’s-1970’s period). Making use of information provided by Theofilakto Papakonstandinou in 1963, Roupa has observed that Greek people in the 1960’s actively sought to be informed of new products in the market-place and did so by making use of the radio. With reference to the popular masses of the 1960’s and using data provided by Papakonstandinou, Roupa writes:

«Ήταν βέβαια περισσότερο “ακουστικός τύπος,
προτιμούσε το ακρόαμα από την ανάγνωση”.
Σύμφωνα με τα κριτήρια που οριοθέτησε η UNESCO
σε έρευνά της σχετικά με το επίπεδο ενημέρωσης
της κοινής γνώμης μίας χώρας, στην Ελλάδα …
το ποσοστό κατοχής δέκτη ραδιοφώνου ήταν
ιδιαίτερα ικανοποιητικό» (p. 263).

Perhaps we should point out here that it was not only listening that the popular masses would resort to so as to inform themselves – they would as much resort to seeing both for their entertainment and their information: hence the dominantly pictorial nature of the popular periodicals and hence also the popularity of the cinema (as also at Aliarto, especially amongst youth of both sexes).

Generally speaking, and as regards the relationship between advertizing, mass consumerism and the role of the radio as a means of consumer information, John Kenneth Galbraith had made the following observation in 1967:

“Coincidentally with rising mass incomes came
first radio and then television” (cf. The New
Industrial State, Penguin, first published 1967,
p. 213).

The very important question of ‘mass incomes’ in the case of 1960’s-1970’s Greece shall be dealt with below (but cf., inter alia, our paper on the “Samandoura Case”, as also our analyses of wage-scales at the A&M Mill from the 1950’s and through to the early 1980’s).We shall end these brief ‘historical’ notes by simply citing the views of an “average” Greek of the 1960’s on the question of the quality of radio commercials at the time, and whose views are perhaps expressive of the idea that radio listeners/consumers could themselves be highly critical of what they heard (or saw). In a ‘Letter to the Editor’ published in Ta Nea [Τα Νέα] (Thurs. 12.11.1964, p. 6, entitled «Οι ραδιοσταθμοί μας», and available in the Α&Μ Archives), the letter-writer had this to say about radio commercials:

«…Όσο για την ποιότητα των διαφημίσεων –
τα κείμενά τους δηλαδή – καλύτερα να μην
τα χαρακτηρίσουμε. Φαίνεται πως δεν το πήραμε
ακόμα είδηση ότι το ραδιόφωνο είναι σχολείο.
Και ότι στο σχολείο δεν επιτρέπεται η αρλούμπα».

GLOSSARY

●«Οι ραδιοσταθμοί μας»: “Our radio stations”.

GREEK INTELLECTUALS ON THE QUESTION OF ADVERTIZING/CONSUMERISM, 1960’s-1970’s

To begin with, we shall have to emphasize that whatever examination of the theoretical discourse on the discourse of advertizing/the practice of consumerism that unfolded in the 1960’s-1970’s amongst Greek intellectuals at the time, cannot possibly make sense unless one also takes into consideration the dominant trends of thinking amongst foreign intellectuals. If it is true that foreign advertizing stereotypes were imported and adopted by the Greek advertizing sector, it is also as true that those who were highly critical of advertizing were themselves making use of ideas – at times stereotypical themselves – which were being clearly imported from overseas, such ideas most often being borrowed   from the Continental “Left” (or from ‘radical’ theoretical discourse hailing from the USA). Thus, the importation of foreign theories on the part of Greek “intellectuals” and their imposition onto the Greek reality was something that went hand-in-hand with the influx of foreign advertizing discourse. But while, as we shall try to show, the latter discourse had to willy-nilly adjust to the Greek reality, the borrowed theoretical discourse, handicapped by an incipient political dogmatism, made no such corresponding adjustment.

Perhaps one of the most important foreign intellectuals to have had a major influence on Greek thinkers at the time – especially in the early-1970’s – was Erich Fromm. In his The Sane Society, translated in Greek in 1973 (Η υγιής κοινωνία, Εκδόσεις Μπουκουμάνη), Fromm summarizes his position on advertizing very succinctly – he says:

«Πίνουμε ετικέτες…» (p. 170).

This statement, for Erich Fromm, is generally expressive of the age of the 1960’s and the 1970’s. In some sense, he means to suggest that the ‘modern’ post-war man is so alienated from himself and from his own body that he does not truly savour, does not authentically relish and experience the act of drinking whatever liquid: the body is somewhat excluded from such act – what we have here is a victim-consumer whose act of drinking is ‘mediated’ by an imposed trade-mark. We may contrast the implications of such an approach to the realities of the “Amalia-type”: we could say that, after a hard day’s work at the Headquarters of the A&M Mill, Amalia Eleftheriadou had to do some washing. By 1970, let us say, she could do this, not by using her fairly delicate hands, but by using her newly-bought IZOLA washing machine. Would her washing in this case not be “authentically real” but an act ‘mediated’ by the IZOLA trade-mark? Could we here say that Amalia would now be “washing trade-marks”? Alternatively, we may ask ourselves: what, in the case of the “Amalia-type”, was more important to her: the brand-name itself or the practical amenity?

For Fromm, as also for Greek “intellectuals”, the post-World War II socio-cultural milieu was
such as to swallow up everything and everyone within its all-inclusive and all-powerful new means of domination, that of the brand-name. Such an approach, while definitely originating from the thinking of the New Left, had become so dominant amongst writers and commentators in Greece, that even non-“Left intellectuals” would uncritically adopt it as their own. Consider, for instance, how Menis Koumandareas would describe the ‘new age’ sprouting in Greece and with specific reference to 1963 – he writes:

«H μισή πόλη χτιζόταν με αντιπαροχές, όπως η
μισή άδειαζε από σαβούρα – δηλαδή κονσόλες,
βιενέζικες καρέκλες και μπουφέδες – για να γεμίσει
με φορμάικες και νάυλον» (cf. M. Koumandareas,
Ο ωραίος λοχαγός[The Handsome Captain], Κέδρος, Οct. 1982, p. 70).

Now, such a description of the state of affairs in 1963 Greece is not in fact inaccurate – the 1960’s was the period of time in which the age of the Formica and of Nylon (and the brand names that went with these) was being ushered in. But what Koumandareas does not tell us is what a set of Formica table and chairs or what a Nylon pair of stockings would have meant to the “Amalia-type” (consider, for instance, that quite a number of Aliartian families in the early 1960’s had their meals on the floor or used tree-trunks for chairs – but we shall have to come back to this further below). It is not only that a writer such as Koumandareas fails to pose and deal with such a pertinent question – in fact, his position is highly reminiscent of that of Fromm’s when he comes to speak of the ‘plastic age’ of the early-1970’s. In his  Βιοτεχνία Υαλικών [Glass Factory,  Κέδρος, 1975, 1st edition), he presents the ‘plastic age’ as a period of time wherein everything loses its ‘authenticity’ (people included) – this is how he puts it:

«Έτσι ανακάλυψα τα πλαστικά. Πλαστικές
οι καρέκλες που καθόμαστε, πλαστικά τα ποτήρια
που πίνουμε, οι τσάντες που κρατάμε, τα
ραδιόφωνα, τα τηλέφωνα – πλαστικές ακόμα
 και οι γυναίκες» (p. 99, my emph.).

For the vast majority of Greek “intellectuals” at the time, such age of the Formica, of Nylon and of Plastic, is in essence the age of manipulation. In 1972, the writer Marios Hakkas would present life in Athens as follows:

«Αθήνα, η αρμονία σου είναι να ψωνίζεις και
ταυτόχρονα να ψωνίζεσαι» (cf. Marios Hakkas,
Το κοινόβιο [The Commune], Κέδρος, 1972, p. 116).

For Hakkas, the dominant practice amongst Athenians in the early-1970’s – that which maintains, ironically, their «αρμονία» – is the act of buying. But while so buying, they are being manipulated (the term «ψωνίζεσαι» suggesting precisely that).

The manipulative function of advertizing bill-boards – especially – is brought about through the sheer effect they have on the circumscribing atmosphere within which the person finds himself. In 1973, Glafki Daskalopoulou would describe such atmospheric effect as follows:

«Απέναντι στο βάθος, στερεωμένες στην ταράτσα
κάποιου κτιρίου, οι δυο πρώτες λέξεις μιας
διαφημιστικής επιγραφής: Η ΠΙΟ ΣΙΓ… Το υπόλοιπο
βρίσκεται έξω από τ’ οπτικό μου πεδίο. Χωρίς
αμφιβολία, Η ΠΙΟ ΣΙΓΟΥΡΗ ΤΟΠΟΘΕΤΗΣΗ, ή
ΕΞΑΣΦΑΛΙΣΗ, ή ΕΠΙΤΥΧΙΑ. Όταν ανάβουν τα φώτα,
οι λέξεις αναβοσβήνουν σε χρώμα παπαγαλί και
η ατμόσφαιρα γύρω πρασινίζει» (cf. G. Daskalopoulou,
 Ένοπλη Ξενάγηση, Κέδρος, 1973, p. 20).

The manipulative automaticity involved in the act of buying (implied by Hakka) and the very atmosphere which envelopes the buyer (as described by Daskalopoulou), have the effect of making the consumer purchase things for reasons outside his intentions: what one buys is all a question of how the thing is advertized. Satirizing the practices of advertisers in 1974, Nikos Tsiforos would make this point as follows:

«Μόνον το απορρυπαντικό ΖΘΕ πλένει βιολογικά …
[and yet] … Το απορρυπαντικό ΖΘΕ δεν πλένει
βιολογικά, … αλλά ρεκλαμάρει, γιατί το παν είναι
να βρεις έναν ορισμό… Πλένω βιολογικά. Οδοντόκρεμα
με γκαρντόλ… [etc.]» (cf. Nikos Tsiforos, Άνθρωποι
 και ανθρωπάκια[Men and Little Men], Ερμής, 1974, p. 133, my emph.).

We shall elsewhere see that Tsiforos himself will go on to also satirize – and thus criticize –the idea that people simply do what advertizing slogans/jingoes ask them to do. But here, and in keeping with the general ideological sway of the 1970’s, he suggests that a product does not “do” things – it just «ρεκλαμάρει» (i.e. it merely promotes itself and nothing more). In the same text, he will stress the manipulative nature of advertizing discourse by maintaining that such discourse can usually play on personal weaknesses, thus making people swallow the line – he writes:

«… “Αγνά γαλακτοκομικά προϊόντα” …  Η αλήθεια είναι,
ότι η λέξη “αγνός” τραβάει πάντα όλον τον κόσμο,
γιατί κανείς σε όλον τον κόσμο δεν είναι αγνός» (op. cit.
p. 213).

For the “intellectual” I.M. Panagiotopoulos, all advertizing discourse in the decade of the 1970’s is reduced to (manipulative) propaganda, its single object being to impose whatever product on the public. While, as we shall see below, Panagiotopoulos had held a radically different view on the question of advertizing and consumerism in the decade of the 1950’s, by 1977 – and again given the dominant anti-consumerist ideological trend of the “Left” at the time – he would reduce whatever promotional campaign in the advertizing sector to what he would call a «σκληρό σφυροκόπημα» of the Greek popular masses. He would, in 1977, write:

«…Η προπαγάνδα είναι … σκληρό σφυροκόπημα
που επιδιώκει να επιβάλει ένα προϊόν οποιασδήποτε
μορφής. Αυτό το προϊόν μπορεί να είναι …
ένα είδος της καθημερινής χρήσης»(cf. I.M.
Panagiotopoulοs, O σύγχρονος άνθρωπος [The Modern Man], Εκδόσεις των
Φίλων, Athens, 1977, p. 70, my emph.).

Similarly, Rea Galanaki, writing in 1982 but with specific reference to the 1967-1974 period (i.e. the years of the Military Dictatorship), would point to the psychological effect that advertizing had on Greeks and on the creation of “false hopes” – and she would continue as follows:

«Τα δούρεια βήματα μες στο μικρό δωμάτιό της
εκ των προτέρων εκπορθούν την πρόφαση του
πρωινού για ελπίδα… εκ των προτέρων εκπορθούν
… το άρωμα της οδοντόκρεμας» (cf. Rea Galanaki, Πού ζει ο λύκος;
[Where does the wolf live?], Εκδόσεις Άγρα, Athens, 1982,
p. 46).

Of course, the whole idea that many of the goods sold in the market-place were meant to satisfy “false needs” manipulatively created by the advertizing industry, was already in circulation following the work of John Kenneth Galbraith in the 1960’s, especially with his classic masterpiece, The Affluent Society (Penguin, 1969), and which itself was highly influential in Greece. The crux of Galbraith’s argument had raised questions such as the following:

“Why worship work and productivity if many
of the goods we produce are superfluous-
artificial ‘needs’ created by high-pressure
advertising?” (cf. John Kenneth Galbraith,
 The New Industrial State, op. cit., p. 416,
wherein The Affluent Society is introduced).

Very many Greek “intellectuals” had been directly influenced by the work of Galbraith (for instance, Christos Malevitsis, to whom we shall have to return). One could very simply say here that Galbraith’s analyses may have quite accurately applied to the truly “affluent”, highly industrialized capitalist world that his work was focusing on (though, even within such world, such “affluence” had never been a linear upward movement for all of society, but rather a definitely uneven distribution of wealth which could at times include the vast majority of its citizens, but could also exclude portions of them depending on the economic conjuncture). But the point here is that the “affluent society” Galbraith was referring to – and the consumer habits that went with it – could not possibly be mechanically transferred to the reality of Greece in the 1960’s. Put otherwise, whatever forms of ‘manipulation’ had applied to the USA of the 1960’s, could not possibly have applied to the Greek social formation at the time (which was just rearing its head above the poverty that had for so long beset it). We shall come back to the analyses of Galbraith vis-à-vis the Greek case below, and with special reference to the rise of the Greek middle classes in the period under discussion.

We have thus far suggested that, for the Greek “intellectuals” of the 1960’s-1970’s, advertizing basically constituted a manipulation of consumers meant to simply make them consume whatever was promoted. However, and especially as regards the highly vocal Greek “Left”, things went much further than that. For them, the age was not simply characterized by consumer manipulation meant to maximize company profits: all this went hand-in-hand with politico-ideological domination – this being the real essence of such age. Yet again, it was the Continental “Left” – and especially the “ultra-Left” philosophical discourse of the Frankfurtians – that would be the source of near-fanatical inspiration in Greece.

Writing as early as 1944-1947, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer would argue in their Dialectic of Enlightenment (re-issued 1969) that both consumerism and advertizing constituted a total system of politico-ideological domination, yielding a “false identity” amongst the dominated subjects – yielding, that is –

«την ψευδή ταυτότητα του γενικού
και του μερικού» (cf. Horkheimer & Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment
greek edition: Διαλεκτική του Διαφωτισμού,  Νήσος,
Athens, 1996, p. 202).

Above all, and even since the early-1940’s, Adorno and Horkheimer would come up with a highly ‘radical’ – but excruciatingly simplistic – equation, i.e. that THE SYSTEM = ADVERTIZING / ADVERTIZING = THE SYSTEM. They were basically arguing that advertizing reinforces the dominance of the capitalist system – they would put it in as straight-forward a manner as possible:

«η κυριαρχία του συστήματος οχυρώνεται
στη διαφήμιση» (op. cit., p. 268).

The system of mass production and advertizing is so powerful that it actually determines the very “identity” of people – it does, in fact, “make” them – Adorno and Horkheimer are crystal-clear on this:

«Η εξουσία της βιομηχανικής κοινωνίας
έχει καταλάβει τους ανθρώπους μια για πάντα
… Κάθε επιμέρους εκδήλωση της πολιτιστικής
βιομηχανίας αναπαράγει αναντίρρητα τους
ανθρώπους έτσι όπως τους έχει κάνει η
βιομηχανία στο σύνολό τους» (op. cit., p. 212).

Such an approach, of course, seems to question the very field of social history itself: here, one need not at all bother with either the real person Amalia Eleftheriadou or with the “Amalia-type” itself and the manner/s in which either the person or that type of person would try to forge relationships with the phenomenon of advertizing – one need simply examine ‘the system’ and how it churns out robot-like stereotypes. Of course, the idea that industry “makes” people carries some definite truth in it. But accepting such truth at face value would mean leaving a number of absolutely crucial questions – crucial at least for social history – completely unanswered. Such questions would include the following: firstly, to what extent does industry “make” people? – This surely is a question that only a historian could answer. Secondly, to what extent did people at the time themselves want to be so “made”? – Consider, for instance, that syndicalist/worker movements at the time actually fought specifically for wage raises, and therefore for a greater consumer power. And thirdly, to what extent did industry have not much choice but to yield to the consumer needs, tastes and styles of the people themselves? – Here, the content of advertizing discourse is, again, a field for historical research.

Neither Adorno/Horkheimer nor the vast majority of “Left”/Marxist-inspired Greek “intellectuals” in the 1960’s or 1970’s (as also later) would actually stoop down and quite ‘humbly’ delve into the complex minds and as complex everyday lives of young working people such as Amalia Eleftheriadou at Aliarto. In fact, and at least as regards the Greek “Left”, we may make the general observation that very many of its “theoreticians” and “activists” were characterized by an all-knowing arrogance that made them look down on the Amalias of the day – even since the 1920’s/1930’s, Asimakis Panselinos would himself observe such aloofness amongst his fairly well-educated comrades – he writes:

«Ετούτη πάλι η Σίτσα Καραϊσκάκη ήταν ένα
περίεργο ψυχολογικό χαρμάνι… Ήταν αριστερή
και μιλούσε πάντα από περιωπής!» (cf. A. Panselinos,
  Τότε που ζούσαμε [When we were really alive], Κέδρος, 1974, p. 112).

The all-knowing arrogance of the “Left”, especially in Greece, is certainly explainable (the absence of a mass industrial proletariat, as also the absence of any well-established Marxian tradition in Greek thought, would mean the relative isolation of “Left-wing intellectuals” from the Greek reality) – but what really concerns us here is to show how such a mentality mingled with the writings of an Adorno and yielded a completely distorted view both of the “Amalia-type” and of how such “type” would relate to the world of advertizing. If, for the Frankfurtians, people were robot-like stereotypes mechanically reproduced by the industrial system, for I. N. Xirotyris, writing in 1965, the Greek people were suffering a complete loss of freedom due to the “hypnotic” effects of advertizing – this is how he would express such a position in his Επίκαιρα κοινωνικά προβλήματα (Salonika, 1965):

«Η διαφήμιση αποπλανά και διαφθείρει
… Η διαφήμιση, γέννημα του βιομηχανικού
πνεύματος, καταντά με τα μέσα που διαθέτει
και τον ασυνείδητο τρόπο που καλλιεργείται,
να φτάνει ως την αρπαγή της ελευθερίας των
 ατόμων. Την αρπάζει η διαφήμιση με τη
σύγχυση που προκαλεί στα άτομα, σύγχυση
που φτάνει ως τον υπνωτισμό, με αποτέλεσμα
να κάνει το άτομο ανίκανο να σκεφθεί, να
κρίνει» (pp. 103-106, his emph.).

The question raised is obvious: if it is true that the popular masses in Greece in the 1960’s – such as the “Amalia-type” – were «ανίκανα», what would be the object of any social history? Alternatively, why take at all seriously the stories of dumb, hypnotized “robots”? Logically speaking, such an approach would reject all history bar that of the so-called ‘dominant’ ruling classes. This of course raises further problems of methodology both for the historian and the sociologist (and which we shall have to deal with below).

The idea of a total politico-ideological domination imposed on a helpless people would also be adopted by a non-Marxist such as Koumandareas in 1975 – as he writes in his Βιοτεχνία υαλικών (op. cit.):

«Μας καταντήσανε σκουλήκια, φάνηκε
να της ψιθυρίζει, κι άφησε το κεφάλι του
να πέσει…» (p. 69).

Yet another overseas thinker who had had a major influence on Greek “intellectuals”, especially in the 1970’s, was the Frenchman Henri Lefebvre, perhaps the most prolific of “New Left” intellectuals whose “Marxist Humanism” and his “critique of everyday life” had, at least up until the 1980’s, constituted a major criticism of the “Stalinist Left”. And while such “Stalinism” would continue to dominate in the political thinking of the Greek “Left”, the thinking of Lefebvre would nonetheless be used – most often very crudely – to link the phenomenon of advertizing to the ideological domination of the Greek capitalist “system”.

In his work, Everyday Life in the Modern World (translated in Greek in 1972, Εκδόσεις Μπουκουμάνη, Athens), Lefebvre would write:

«Στο δεύτερο μισό του 20ού αιώνα στην Ευρώπη
…, το καθετί (ένα αντικείμενο, ένα άτομο, μια
κοινωνική ομάδα) παίρνει αξία μόνο χάρη στο
είδωλό του: τη διαφημιστική εικόνα του που το
περιβάλλει μ’ ένα φωτοστέφανο» (cf. pp. 157-160).

And further:

«Η Διαφήμιση αποκτά τη σημασία μιας ιδεολογίας.
Είναι η ιδεολογία του εμπορεύματος» (ibid.).

Such a position is quite reminiscent of that of Adorno’s and his partner, in that it reduces a person’s “identity” to “idols”, and as such “idols” are themselves expressions of some «διαφημιστική εικόνα» – and all of which come to constitute the dominant ideology. All we may briefly say here – and if we are to truly understand the socio-cultural practices of the “Amalia-type” – is that one needs to re-define the very concept of “ideology” if one wants to research social history – i.e. to examine empirically how ideological practices exist in the real world and without reducing such practices to a mere “false consciousness” imposed from the “top”. Now, while Lefebvre’s overall theoretical project could somehow make allowances for such a re-definition of ideology (he could, for example, see everyday life as some kind of an intersection between “illusion” and “truth” or an intersection of “sectors” controlled/not controlled by an “Amalia-type’), the adoption of his thinking by Greek “intellectuals” in the 1970’s could not make such amends at all.

In 1970, the writer Lea Megalou, in a short story entitled «Ο Wernher von Braun φερ’ ειπείν θα γέλαγε μαζί μας» [“For instance, Wernher von Braun would laugh with us”], directly relates the whole of the political system to the world of advertizing – she writes:

«Το παν … δεν είναι άλλο από το σύστημα.
ΤΟ ΣΥΣΤΗΜΑ [sic]. Ενιαίο, οικουμενικό… Όσο
πιο γενναιόδωρο, πίνετε Coca-Cola για να
πάνε όλα καλύτερα… Όσο πιο γενναιόδωρο,
ομαδικοί οι τάφοι» (in  Διήγημα ’70 [Short story  ’70] ,
Κάλβος, Αθήνα, 1971, p. 107).

We need note here the protest tone of the text, such protest being both against the political and the advertizing “system” at the same time. Thus, in the selfsame short story, the writer will further down continue as follows:

«ΑΓΟΡΑΣΤΕ ΚΙ ΕΣΕΙΣ
ΑΠΟΚΤΗΣΤΕ ΚΙ ΕΣΕΙΣ» (ibid., p. 110).

We thus here have a critique of the advertizing industry as part and parcel of political protest. Similarly, in 1971, the important writer Alexandros Kotzias would in his own way suggest that ‘yielding’ to the message of an advertisement would be tantamount to ‘yielding’ to the then rule of the Military Dictatorship – this is how he puts it in his short story, «Ο Γενναίος Τηλέμαχος» [“Brave Telemachos”]:

«Ε, λοιπόν, εγώ δε θέλω να ανανήψω, θέλω
να είμαι ο Πέτρος θέλω να είμαι ο Πέτρος και
δεν αποκηρύσσω τίποτα – είναι τόσο
εξευτελιστικό μοιάζει με τη διαφήμιση ΟΛΟΙ
ΟΙ ΕΠΙΤΥΧΗΜΕΝΟΙ ΞΥΡΙΖΟΝΤΑΙ ΜΕ ΑΦΡΟΚΡΕΜ.
Σκατά! Εγώ θέλω ν’ αγνοώ την ΑΦΡΟΚΡΕΜ
και με ποιο δικαίωμα η ΑΦΡΟΚΡΕΜ υποβάλλει
στον Πέτρο την παρουσία της, ναι, μοιάζει
με το θάνατο» (in Νέα κείμενα 2 [New Texts 2]], Κέδρος,
1971, p. 195).

In the Greek political tradition of the 1950’s and the 1960’s – as also in the period of the military regime – words like «ανανήψω» and «αποκηρύσσω» carried a very heavy political content, whereby “communists” were forced to confess to and publicly renounce their allegiance to the “Left” – and Kotzias here uses such terms in relation to an advertisement. Further, and very much like Xyrotyris referred to above – who suggests that advertizing leads to a loss of personal freedom and thus to a loss of self – Kotzias equates the ΑΦΡΟΚΡΕΜ advertisement to “death” itself. Yielding to the message of an advertisement is yielding to the ‘establishment’, and thus Kotzias’ rejection of the advertizing industry is a deeply political stance, presumably for “life”.

In 1972, Petros Ampatzoglou, in his book Η γέννηση του Σούπερμαν [The Birth of Superman,] Κέδρος, 1972), would in his own way be insinuating that advertisements are in fact a manifestation of a totalitarian society wherein everyone is a victim of an advertizing company, and is destined to die as such (we notice, yet again, the theme of “death”). He would write:

«Χάσαμε τον προσανατολισμό μας. Από πού
βγαίνει ο ήλιος και πού βασιλεύει κανείς μας
δεν ξέρει πια. Είμαστε θύματα διαφημιστικής
εταιρίας και θα πεθάνουμε θύματα
διαφημίσεως» (p. 93).

In 1973, Daskalopoulou (op. cit.), would herself write of the ‘establishment’ and its advertizing:

«…αντιπρόσωποι του κατεστημένου
που περιφέρουν πλακάτ μ’ επιγραφές:
«’Επισκεφθείτε…» «Προτιμήστε…»
«Διαλέξτε…» «Καταναλίσκετε…» (cf.
 Ένοπλη ξενάγηση, p. 15).

Interestingly, there would be times when the “Left” discourse would want to more discreetly differentiate between the capitalist system as a whole and the endogenous/national Greek economy: in this case – and as a tactical response to current anti-American public opinion – it would focus its attack on the advertizing campaigns of foreign multi-national corporations and the disastrous effect these would have on local products. George Koumandos, himself not by any means a “Left-winger”, but in some ways certainly influenced by the dominant ideological currents of his day, would deal with the phenomenon of advertizing in Greece as follows:

«Τα πολυεθνικά μονοπώλια των απορρυπαντικών
με τη διαφήμιση κατάφεραν  να εκτοπίσουν το
σαπούνι από την πλύση (εις βάρος και της εθνικής
μας οικονομίας…) και με τη διαφήμιση προσπαθούν
να μας πείσουν για τις ολοένα καινούργιες και
ολοένα πιο μαγικές ιδιότητες των παντοδύναμων,
βιολογικών, ενζυματούχων προϊόντων τους» (cf.
www.aristoteleio.net/docs/Voithimata.thematon.
Pdf).

Such an approach may be taken to be superior to what has thus far been presented as the standard “Left” positions of both Greek and Continental thinkers – and it is certainly superior in two distinct ways: firstly, it is capable of distinguishing between different (and at times contradictory) sectors of so-called Capital-as-a-Whole. Secondly, and as importantly, it avoids drawing general, almost ‘metaphysical’ conclusions as to what advertizing can do to people at an abstract, ahistorically ‘existential’ level. Yet still, and while pointing to the highly significant clash that would certainly ensue between a product such as local Greek soap and US detergents, it nonetheless takes a number of pertinent questions for granted. One could, for instance, begin by posing the following question: Do multi-national corporations ‘dislocate’ the local Greek soap from the market because of the power of their advertizing campaigns, or was their product in fact more practically useful for the Greek housewife herself? Such a question would of course raise further questions regarding consumer practical judgment and the capacities of such popular judgment, and which is above all a historical question to be empirically verified. It is quite possible, in other words, that Greek housewives in the 1960’s-1970’s may have come to their own decision that the Greek bar of soap was simply and practically inferior to the more technologically advanced American detergent – but, we repeat, such questions cannot be answered seriously unless one undertakes detailed research around the history of washing in Greece (and/or around other such related socio-cultural mass practices). Related to this, and which again Koumandos takes for granted, is the question of the content of advertizing discourse produced by the multi-national corporations: the question remains open as to whether it was the “manipulative” or “provocative-interventionist” manner of their discourse which had a persuasive effect on Greek women or whether such discourse actually responded to their real needs – or, further, if there was some sort of combination between manipulation and real needs which had had the effect that such advertisements did (it shall be precisely such types of questions that we shall try to deal with below). Koumandos, finally, takes for granted (or rather superficially accepts) the absolute dominance of multi-national corporation advertizing: what we shall need to do is to examine the balance of forces that were continually in operation and that were to determine, this way or that, the real conflict that had unfolded between “global” advertizing discourse and local Greek advertizing discourse (the latter being expressive of the interests of Greek endogenous non-monopoly capital).

But the Koumandos position, and the truly important questions it raises, cannot be taken as representative of the thinking of the Greek “Left” (Koumandos himself belonging to the liberal “Centre” and with a well-trained legal mind) – and which of course explains why the questions it had unconsciously raised were never at all really dealt with at the time. That which truly dominated the “Left”, then, was the wish to reject whatever had to do with the “capitalist system” as a whole and to posit in its place what was – at least for the Greek case – a rather utopian “socialist model”. In a book entitled  Η γυναίκα & τα Μέσα Μαζικής Ενημέρωσης[Woman and the Mass Media], published by the “Democratic Union of Young Women” [Δημοκρατική Ένωση Νέων Γυναικών] (Πύλη, Αθήνα, 1979), and which is fully representative of the ‘Orthodox Left’ at the time, we read (inter alia):

«Η διαφήμιση κατ’ αρχήν προέρχεται από
τις βάσεις του οικονομικού μας συστήματος,
καπιταλιστικού, που προκαλεί την ανάγκη για
όσο το δυνατόν μεγαλύτερα κέρδη και επομένως
για όσο το δυνατόν μεγαλύτερες πωλήσεις» (p. 47).

It was such «βάσεις» that had to be destroyed and whatever “superstructure” (such as advertizing) that went with these. At this point, we may simply contrast such dogmatic wishful thinking to what the communist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, has to say of the 20th century capitalist world and its 1960’s “Golden Age”, and which was of course also dominated by the advertizing sector – comparing such world to the possibilities of socialism, he writes:

«Το να δείξει … κανείς ότι μια … σοσιαλιστική
οικονομία είναι εφικτή, δεν ισοδυναμεί με
το να δείξει ότι είναι αναγκαστικά ανώτερη,
ας πούμε σε σύγκριση με μια κοινωνικά πιο
δίκαιη εκδοχή της μικτής οικονομίας της
Χρυσής Εποχής, κι ακόμα λιγότερο ότι ο κόσμος
θα την προτιμούσε» (cf. Eric Hobsbawm,
The Age of Extremes, greek edition: Η εποχή των άκρων, Θεμέλιο, 2004,
p. 633).

The fact is that Amalia Eleftheriadou, as also quite a number of even “Blue-Collar” employees at the A&M Mill, would actually experience at least the rudiments of the Greek-version of the “Golden Age” of the 1960’s and through to the 1970’s, etc. Not all employees at the Maraki Mill and not all the residents of Aliarto could be said to have climbed the social ladder of “success” (Nikos Troughas, for instance, did not) – but such “success” was both relatively feasible and, above all, a common popular wish (such wish encompassing both “Left-wing” and “Right-wing” residents of the area). In direct contrast to the real will of the popular masses, Greek “intellectuals”, having related advertizing to politico-ideological domination, would also see the “models of success” that such advertizing carried, as part and parcel of such politico-ideological domination. In fact, whatever form of “social success” within the capitalist “system” would be rejected. Yet again, such a theoretical tendency amongst Greek “Left-wing” thinkers would be directly borrowed from overseas and mechanically applied to the Greek case. Horkheimer and Adorno, in their Dialectic of Enlightenment (greek edition, op. cit.), would approach the issue of “success” – and how that was being promoted via the advertizing industry – as follows:

«…οι εξαπατημένες μάζες καταλαμβάνονται από
το μύθο της επιτυχίας πιο πολύ απ’ ό,τι οι
επιτυχημένοι. Έχουν τις επιθυμίες τους και
εμμένουν αμετακίνητες στην ιδεολογία με την
οποία τις υποδουλώνουν» (pp. 222-223).

We may briefly comment at this point that, for the Greeks of the 1960’s and 1970’s, “success” was both a “myth” and a reality (or a potential reality). Possessing one’s own house, furnishing and decorating it, having a steady job and with some possibilities of an annual wage raise, buying a car, and so on, were undreamt of material conditions for the vast majority of the popular masses prior to World War II. As we shall further see below, the “Amalia-type” was to consciously pursue a “myth” which could and did turn into a reality. It was not merely the industrialization of the period which would help her ‘cause’: mass populist movements such as those of George Papandreou’s EK (cf., for instance, Nikos Mouzelis, Politics in the Semi-Periphery: Early Parliamentarism and Late Industrialization in the Balkans and Latin America [greek edition: Κοινοβουλευτισμός και εκβιομηχάνιση στην ημι-περιφέρεια, Θεμέλιο, 1987], esp. chapter 2), as also that of the “Left-wing” ΕΔΑ would struggle for such better material conditions. Thus, that the “Amalia-type” would insist on such “myth-reality” («εμμένουν αμετακίνητες»), is historically and quite logically explainable. But neither an Adorno nor the Greek “activists”/”theoreticians” – supposedly representing the popular masses – would ever admit to themselves that what people such as Amalia Eleftheriadou truly wished for was some rudiment of “success” within “capitalist” society, and which would not, for such people, necessarily constitute any acceptance of “ideological domination”.

The Frankfurtian rejection of “success”, we are suggesting, had deeply permeated the thinking of Greek “intellectuals” at the time – consider the irony of a Marios Hakkas as regards “success” and how it was being promoted by advertizing in 1970:

«Οι πετυχημένοι χτενίζονται με μπρηλκρήμ.
Μπρηλκρήμ. Μπρηλκρήμ. –  Δεν ήμασταν
πετυχημένοι και καθόλου της σήμερον. Κι
αυτό φάνηκε» (cf. Marios Hakkas, Ο μπιντές [The Bidet],
Κέδρος, 1970, p. 17).

We have here a radical rejection of the whole gamut of commodities such as ‘Brylcreem’ – extremely popular amongst young men in the 1960’s and early-1970’s in the Western world – , as also of the numerous advertisements that promoted them, as also of the whole idea of being “in”. What was being rejected here was not merely the “social success” of the well-to-do “squares”, but even that of the Elvis Presley ‘wet look’ popular amongst youth but also much promoted by the international advertizing industry. There is no denying, of course, that such trendy youth of the 1960’s and 1970’s – itself the subject of the socio-cultural/sexual ‘revolution’ of the 1960’s/1970’s (cf. our paper on such ‘revolution’ in Greece) –  was to itself later on join the ranks of the Greek middle-classes: hence Hakka’s rejection both of the ‘Brylcreemed’ Greek youth and of the latter’s later turn towards the more ‘conventional’, materially-boosted “social success”. That, however, was the history of those generations.

The connection between ‘Brylcreem’ and the “image” of “success” and “power” had, interestingly, also been commented on by Nikos Tsiforos in 1974 – he would write of:

«Ένας δυνατός με το μαλλί  γεμάτο
Μπρίλ Κρήμ, με μπλε ρούχα και με
μαντηλάκι των έξι δοντιών» (cf. Άνθρωποι
 και ανθρωπάκια, op. cit., p. 235).

As with Daskalopoulou (op. cit.), Kotzias (op. cit), and as also with Hakkas and Tsiforos just quoted, so also would Mikhail Mitras, in 1972, sarcastically relate advertizing and its products to the question of “social success” – in his «φανταστική νουβέλα» (Athens, Private Edition, 1972), he would write:

«Το μυστικό λοιπόν της επιτυχίας είναι
βέβαια και τα κατάλευκα δόντια της
διαφημίσεως» (p. 24).

We present such kaleidoscope of Greek writers of the period – certainly not all of them necessarily “Left-wing” – to simply show how widespread the rejection was of consumerism, advertizing and material “success”. In fact, one may even go on to argue that there was some sort of a ‘consensus’ between “Left-wing” thought and some important “Right-wing”  thought as regards the ‘evils’ of consumerism: both would counterpose the practice of consumerism to that of ‘culture’ and the manifestations of the so-called ‘Human Spirit’.

Perhaps the most important critique of consumerism/advertizing coming from the quasi-“Right-wing” flank – and which showed an emphatic concern for ‘The Spirit’ – was expressed by Andreas Karandonis as early as 1960, and who was himself a sympathizer of Venizelos and could therefore be said to have belonged to the “Centre-Right”. Very much reminiscent of the ‘aloofness’ and ‘arrogance’ of “Left-wing” thinkers – vis-à-vis the popular masses –, and to which we have referred to above, Karandonis would literally scold and insult the Greek people for their all-too-easy ‘materialist’ concerns. For him, it was not only a question of “manipulation” coming from the “top” (the advertizing companies), but also – and mainly – a question of a self-imposed “mental laziness” coming from the “bottom” (the popular masses). In an article entitled «Η σύγχρονη έννοια της διασημότητος», and published in Nea Hestia [Νέα Εστία], No 792, Athens, July 1st, 1960, he would refer to mass popular discourse as follows:

«το ψωμοτύρι της καθημερινής κουβέντας
του μέσου ανθρωπάκου» (cf. pp. 856-857).

And this is how he would ‘evaluate’ such «ψωμοτύρι»:

«…το μεγάλο πλήθος ενδιαφέρεται μονάχα
για ό,τι εμπίπτει με τρόπο άμεσο στις αισθήσεις
του, στις συνήθειές του και, κυρίως, στην
χωρίς απαιτήσεις διανοητική του καλλιέργεια.
Το μεγάλο πλήθος … δεν ενδιαφέρεται παρά για
ό,τι άμεσα το τέρπει. Άμεσα, πρόχειρα, φθηνά
και φευγαλέα. Προ παντός όχι κούραση, όχι
προσπάθεια, όχι αποταμιευμένη σοφία…
Προς το παρόν, το μέγα πλήθος … παραμένει
… έξω από το Πνεύμα» (ibid.).

What we have here is a strain of thinking which – unwittingly – comes down to operating as do communicating vessels between “Left” and “Right” ideology: while Karandonis wants to “pull” the Greek popular masses towards his “Spirit”, the “Left” wishes to “pull” those same masses towards their own understanding of “Spirit” (and which was some utopian belief in the eschatological, millenarian capacities of the ‘proletariat’). In that sense, both Karandonis and the “Left” were rejecting the socio-cultural practices of the popular masses – and the manner in which such masses related to advertisements/consumerism – from an essentially idealistic understanding of history (and that, despite the ideology of “historical materialism” that the Greek “Left” espoused but had hardly digested). Naturally, it would be precisely such an understanding of things that would inevitably lead both sides to their “intellectualist arrogance” already referred to – such “arrogance” meaning that both sides would choose to ignore the real material conditions of people at the time and the real needs and as real wishes which such conditions would provoke (such needs having been neither ‘maximalist’ and ‘revolutionary’ nor ‘spiritualist’ in the Karandonis sense). Thus, we may conclude that both approaches had failed to examine, analyze and ultimately explain the “values” of the popular masses – both simply “evaluated’ them and did so highly subjectively. Further, there is no reason why we should as simply assume that the ‘theoretical knowledge’ of a Karandonis or that of the “Left” must necessarily be seen as superior to the ‘empirical knowledge’ of the “Amalia-type”. The knowledge of the latter cannot but constitute the object of a historical sociology and/or of a social history: both such latter disciplines ‘escaped’ the idealism of the theoretical discourses we are considering.

Now, it is quite true that, at times, some “intellectuals” of the “Left” would try their very best to be as ‘understanding’ as possible as regards the ignoble habits of the masses – i.e. the tendency of the latter to be consumer-prone: in such cases, the superior intellect of such “intellectuals” would fully expose its own idealism. Consider how Rosa Imvrioti would try to deal with that supposedly near-irreconcilable contradiction between consumerism, on the one hand, and “culture” or “The Spirit”, on the other – she would, in 1972, write:

«Έστω κι αν δεχτούμε, ότι οι άνθρωποι έχουν
έμφυτη κλίση προς τα υλικά αγαθά κι η
θεωρία, ότι κυριαρχεί ο καταναλωτής, το
απαιτεί, πρέπει όμως να ενθαρρύνεται κι η
τάση για διάδοση της κουλτούρας» (cf. Το
 κατηγορώ της νεολαίας», Διογένης, 1972,
p. 140, my emph.).

Here, we have the selfsame Karandonis-like elitist understanding of “culture” – as also the need on the part of the “intellectuals” to “intervene” so as to salvage the masses from their ‘lower instincts’ and thus help them discover their pre-ordained mission on earth.

And again very much like Karandonis, Dido Sotiriou – who was to also work as journalist for the organ of the Greek Communist Party, Rizospastis [Ριζοσπάστης] – would comment as follows with respect to the spread of advertizing/consumption in the 1960’s:

«Οι φωτεινές ρεκλάμες αναβοσβήνουνε
τα πονηρά τους μάτια. Ευημερία! Ευ-η-με-
ρί-α [sic) … Μπύρες, Ασφάλειες, Ακτοπλοΐες,
οικόπεδα με δόσεις, θεάματα, σεξ, σεξ,
λάσο στο λαιμό του εικοστού αιώνα.
 Πνίξτε το πνεύμα. Απάνω του, όλοι μαζί»
(cf. Dido Sotiriou, Κατεδαφιζόμεθα[We Are Being Demolished],
Κέδρος, 1982, p. 187, my emph.).

Both Imvrioti’s «οι άνθρωποι έχουν έμφυτη κλίση προς» and Sotiriou’s «όλοι μαζί», does point to some degree of ‘disappointment’, on the part of the “Left”, with the Greek popular masses and their insistence (that «εμμένουν αμετακίνητες», as Horkheimer & Adorno had put it) on consumerist behaviour.

Finally, and with specific reference to the consumerism-versus-culture/spirituality debate, Roupa (op. cit.) would generalize the situation in the 1960’s as characterized by an –

«…αμφισβήτηση της αξίας της
κατανάλωσης» (p. 267).

Judging by what we have presented above, her statement is quite accurate: especially by the early-1970’s, both Continental and Greek writers, philosophers, etc., would unleash an anti-consumerist discourse which would dominate the whole of European thought (something also discussed in Hobsbawm’s work, op. cit.). But when one speaks of «αμφισβήτηση», one would naturally have to ask who it was that voiced such dissent. Was there, apart from marginal groups perhaps, any particular segment of Greek society which rejected the idea of buying, say, a fridge or Brylcreem or some detergent? Did the “Left-wing” popular masses not buy themselves fridges or detergents?  Did devotees of the Greek Orthodox Church see the use of a fridge as ‘sinful’? We all very well know that by the 1970’s (at least), the vast majority of Greek homes owned – or prepared themselves so as to own – appliances of the sort. In that sense, the dogmatic critique of consumerism by “Left-wing” thinkers did not express any category of society. And one certainly wonders if what such “intellectuals” said and wrote actually reflected their own style of living (we shall return to this when we come to examine the Papanoutsos approach). And we in any case know that one basic demand of ΕΔΑ was to raise the standard of living of the Greek popular masses, fighting thereby for better material conditions, and which meant strengthening the consumer capacity of those popular masses.

Now, having said all this – and especially as regards the ‘communicating vessels’ of thinking between anti-consumerist “Left” and “Right” theoretical discourse – we shall also have to point out that, within the period we are discussing, there was in fact also a clash of discourses on the issue of consumerism and advertizing. One may begin here by citing a rather controversial “intellectual” of the 1970’s, Nikos Dimou – whose  Η δυστυχία του να είσαι Έλληνας [On the Unhappiness of Being Greek] was to become a best-seller in 1975 – and who was to finally reject all Greek “intellectuals” as “idiots” (cf. Kathimerini [Η Καθημερινή, Τέχνες & Γράμματα], 6.4.2014, p. 8). Writing in the periodical Efthini [Ευθύνη] (issue no. 78, date unknown), this is what Dimou would have to say of all advertizing:

«…Στη διαφήμιση δε λέμε ψέματα …
Στη διαφήμιση (… σε σύγκριση με την
προπαγάνδα) η κατευθυνόμενη πληροφόρηση
είναι λιγότερο επικίνδυνη. Όχι μόνο
γιατί η διαφήμιση φαίνεται πως είναι
διαφήμιση, αλλά γιατί στη διαφήμιση
υπάρχει ανταγωνισμός ... Ο έξυπνος μπορεί
να συγκρίνει, να κρίνει…» (pp. 339-341).

Apart from the reference to “competition” (and which can certainly apply to the conflict of interests between multi-national cooperation advertizing and that of Greek endogenous non-monopoly capital, and which Koumandos (op. cit.) had himself not seriously dealt with), the rest of the Dimou text can quite easily be rejected, if only because it limits itself to that part of the population which Dimou very subjectively calls “clever”. Perhaps more seriously, Aristotelis Nikolaidis, a “Left-winger” who was to be finally disappointed with the “Dream” of the Greek “Left”, would go on to emphasize the ‘respect’ one should show to the so-called “average person”, and thus to a ‘respect’ of the “decisions” such person ultimately comes to make as regards his style of life. In his 1975 book, Η εξαφάνιση[Vanishing-Point, Κέδρος], he would put the matter very simply and clearly:

«Ο μέσος άνθρωπος – και όλοι ως ένα
σημείο είμαστε μέσοι άνθρωποι –
φαίνεται πως ήδη παίρνει τις αποφάσεις
του» (p. 217).

Such a simple statement nonetheless encapsulates the work of any historiography: to the extent that the popular masses were to be involved in their own “decision-making”, that was their very history, and such history has to be accepted and explained as such. The implication is that people – such as Nikolaidis – who ignored “Left-wing Dreams” and finally accepted to enter the world of consumption were in fact deciding for themselves as subjects in history. And a further, and as important, implication is that the “false consciousness” was not theirs, but rather characterized those others who continued to live in their other-worldly “Dream”.

Why was it that ex-“Leftists” such as Nikolaidis would accept the experience of ‘enjoying’ – or of trying to ‘enjoy’ – the ‘fruits’ of the “Golden Age”? For one thing, the vast majority of those who had come to believe in the “Dream” could not possibly waste their lives weeping over a “Utopia” which, as things showed, was not to materialize anywhere in the world, let alone in Greece. And their ability to share in the ‘fruits’ of the modern world – an ability which we do not take for granted but shall examine further below – did certainly attract them to consumerism. On the other hand, this did not at all mean that both ex-“Leftists” and the rest of the Greek population would not, at least by the early-1980’s, feel despondent as they started realizing how over-consumption was beginning to yield its own rather ugly effects on their socio-cultural environment. It would be, amongst others, E.P. Papanoutsos who, in 1984, would speak of an “epidemic” of pessimism amongst Greeks. He would observe:

«Τα τελευταία χρόνια έχει πάρει μορφήν
επιδημίας (με τις ανοδικές και τις καθοδικές
φάσεις της καμπύλης της) η τάση όλα να τα
βλέπουμε γύρω μας μαύρα και να δηλώνουμε
κατηγορηματικά και ανεπιφύλακτα ότι το πάν
έχει για τον ταλαίπωρο άνθρωπο χαθεί,
οριστικά και ανεπανόρθωτα» (cf. E.P.
Papanoutsos, Πρακτική φιλοσοφία,
Δωδώνη, 1984, p. 220).

Such feelings, according to Papanoutsos, were due to the technological developments taking place all over the world (and which included a Greece which was only just beginning to see its own local industries being destroyed by the European Community – cf. our papers on the effects of the E.C. on the functioning of the A&M Mill). And yet, and unlike the vast majority of “intellectuals” we have been discussing above, Papanoutsos would go on to explain that such technological developments had provided the post-War Greek people with ‘fruits’ completely undreamt of by the majority of their parents. Such technological developments, he would point out, had provided for –

«ευκολίες ζωής, άνεση και ψυχαγωγία» (ibid.).

While Papanoutsos has little to say about the relatively uneven distribution of wealth, especially in the 1960’s, and as little about the role of social pressure exerted by the popular masses so as to provide themselves with such new-found ‘luxuries’, his position nonetheless constitutes a major theoretical attack on all critics of consumerism and the advertizing that went with it. In his Πρακτική φιλοσοφία , Papanoutsos would clash with the anti-consumerists with argumentation that went as follows:

«…είναι πλάνη να υποθέτουμε ότι οι
εκπληκτικές κατακτήσεις της επιστήμης
και της τεχνικής, για τις οποίες δικαιολογημένα
υπερηφανεύεται ο πολιτισμός μας, δεν έχουν
καμιάν ουσιαστικήν  αξία, επειδή τάχα δεν
έκαναν “ευτυχέστερο” τον άνθρωπο – άρα
δεν αποτελούν “πρόοδο”. “Αχ! Τι ωραία
που ζούσαν άλλοτε οι άνθρωποι στις πρωτόγονες
κοινωνίες τους, χωρίς το τηλέφωνο, το
ραδιόφωνο, το αυτοκίνητο, το αεροπλάνο”…
Δεν πρέπει, νομίζω, να παίρνομε στα σοβαρά
αυτό τον ψευτορομαντισμό της υποκριτικής
νοσταλγίας του παρελθόντος. Πρώτα-πρώτα
γιατί δογματίζει “εκ του ασφαλούς” και
“με το αζημίωτο”: δεν εγνώρισα ακόμη κανένα
οπαδό του δόγματος να διακόψει το ηλεκτρικό
ρεύμα στο σπίτι του για να ζήσει ευτυχέστερος»
(op. cit., pp. 306-307).

This, basically, is the way that Papanoutsos would see “developments” in the 1960’s and on, and which is supposedly the point of view of a “conservative intellectual”. For one thing, it is difficult to see how he may be labeled a “conservative” when he is so much for technological “progress”. But, and much more importantly so, we should have to add that the “Amalia-type” would have fully understood and agreed with this manner of thinking: Amalia Eleftheriadou “lived” it so.

Of course, and as we have tried to show above, “Left-wing intellectuals” of the 1960’s-1970’s would have examined the ‘Amalia-type” by placing her in their “Orthodox” laboratory (but a laboratory gone wrong in terms of their dreams and expectations), and would inevitably have come to the conclusion that such “type” was a “victim” of the ideological “system” of advertizing (and its “bourgeois” technology).

And yet, objective history would speak – and did so speak – otherwise. Even “Left-wingers” who had consciously felt the “ethical” burden of their “defeat” in the 1940’s, would finally come to accept exactly that style of life adopted by the “Amalia-type” and supported by the “conservative” Papanoutsos. Take, for instance, George Panagoulopoulos’ tellingly entitled book, Μετατόπιση (Κέδρος, 1972), where one such “defeated” “Leftist” tells his past comrades:

«…φύγετε όλοι σας και φωλιάστε στο
ζεστό σας σπιτάκι για ν’ απολαύσετε
τις ανέσεις του πολιτισμού μας.
Πηγαίνετε στο καλό» (p. 111).

And the narrator ends, referring to his past comrades as follows:

«Βρίσκονται συνήθως στο ζεστό τους
σπιτάκι» (p. 114).

It was not just that even “Left-wingers” would ultimately and almost inevitably come to live with the ‘fruits’ of a Greek capitalist development (albeit a rather dependent development). Things would go further – let us take, for instance, the case of a Giannis Kakoulidis. This was a man who, prior to the establishment of the Military Dictatorship in 1967, had belonged to the «Νεολαία Λαμπράκη» and who would with consistency continue his political activism as a high executive of ΕΔΑ. As a “Left intellectual”, he had made his debut as a poet in 1971, and had already been the writer of song lyrics since the 1960’s. The interesting thing about his case is that his profession was that of a «κειμενο-γράφος» (copywriter) for advertisements – thus, this man, rightly or wrongly is here beside the point, not only ‘enjoyed’ the ‘fruits’ of consumerism, he in fact as much participated in “creating” the advertizing discourse of such consumerism. His talents as a poet must have surely helped him in his profession. To put it mildly, it seems as if the Greek “Left” relished its own “alienation”.

Of course, the case of a Kakoulidis is definitely no exception at all. Simply for the sake of interest, we may cite a passage from George Mihailidis’, Τα φονικά[The Murders,  Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, Αθήνα, 1991), and which is a serious study of the typical “Left-wing intellectual” of the 1960’s-1970’s. In a dialogue expressive of the personal lives of such “intellectuals”, we read:

«…Κι είναι ακόμα συγγραφέας;…»
«Ακόμα»…
«…Είναι καλός;»
«Καλός… Δουλεύει σε μια διαφημιστική
εταιρεία» (p. 117).

We have referred to the then on-going clash between pro-consumerist and anti-consumerist ideologists. But here, in the case of people such as Kakoulidis and his likes, we actually have a clash within their own minds: the story of the “Left-wing copywriter” constitutes a highly interesting case – if, as Lefebvre had argued, advertizing discourse is the dominant ideology, then what these “Left-wing copywriters” were doing was to articulate precisely such dominant ideology, while at the same time, in their political discourse proper, they would be articulating an anti-consumerist/anti-advertizing ideology. The glaring contradiction is fairly easily explainable: they simply could not possibly escape the realities of an objectively measurable and qualitatively experienced technological “progress”. Now, this may seem like a rather controversial point to make, but consider what one of the most vociferous of “Leftist intellectuals”, a lady who had opted to call herself Alkis Thrilos, had to say of “progress” as early as 1961:

«Πολλά και ποικίλα είναι τα ευεργετήματα
του πολιτισμού. Δεν είμαι καθόλου από κείνους
που ωραιοποιούν τα γνώριμα, δοκιμασμένα …
και ξεπερασμένα, που αρέσκονται να τα φαντάζονται
παραδεισένια, που νοσταλγούν τον “παλιό καλό
καιρό”, που επιθυμούν χάριν μιας ουτοπίας –
γιατί οι επιστροφές είναι ανέφικτες – να ανακοπεί
 ή και να αντιστραφεί η εξέλιξη» (cf. Alkis Thrilos,
 Συζητήσεις με τον εαυτό μου, Δίφρος, Αθήνα,
1961, p. 175, my emph.).

In the last instance, both the “Leftwing copywriters” and the “Amalia-type” were children of the Greek “Golden Age” – it just seems as if there was much more internal “ideological” coherence/cohesion within an Eleftheriadou than there was within a Kakoulidis.

GLOSSARY

NOTES:
● «αμφισβήτηση»: doubting, disputing or questioning something
● «ανανήψω»: recover, in a figurative sense
● «ανίκανο να σκεφθεί»/ «ανίκανα»: incapable of thinking
● «αποκηρύσσω»: reject, recant, renounce
● «αρμονία»: harmony
● «ΑΦΡΟΚΡΕΜ»: foam cream
● «βάσεις»: bases/base (of the economic system – in the sense traditionally used in Marxist literature)
● «διαφημιστική εικόνα»: advertizing image
● «ΕΚ» : The Centre Union, Greek political party established in 1961.
● «εμμένουν αμετακίνητες»: insist on their fixed beliefs
● «Επίκαιρα κοινωνικά προβλήματα»: “Current social issues”.
● «Η σύγχρονη έννοια της διασημότητος»: “The modern sense of fame”.
● «Μετατόπιση»: “Displacement”.
● «Νεολαία Λαμπράκη»: the Leftwing Lambrakis Youth Movement, founded in 1963 following the assassination of the Leftwing MP, Grigoris Lambrakis.
● «οι άνθρωποι έχουν έμφυτη κλίση προς…»: humans/people have an inherent inclination for (material goods)
● «όλοι μαζί»: all of us together
● «Πίνουμε ετικέτες»: “We drink labels” – Fromm was referring to Coca-Cola.
● «Πρακτική φιλοσοφία»: “Practical philosophy”.
● «ρεκλαμάρει»: from the noun «ρεκλάμα», which means advertisement; here used as a verb.
● «σκληρό σφυροκόπημα»: hard onslaught or pounding of the consumer by advertizing campaigns.
● «Συζητήσεις με τον εαυτό μου»: “Discussions with myself”.
● «Το κατηγορώ της νεολαίας»: “The accusations of youth”.
● «φανταστική νουβέλα»: fictitious novel
● «ψωμοτύρι»: literally meaning ‘bread and cheese’, but suggesting that something is a very common, everyday practice
● «ψωνίζεσαι»: the word «ψωνίζω» means ‘I buy’; used in its passive form, it suggests that you are ‘being bought’ (which is what is alluded to in the text). But it could also mean that you ‘prostitute yourself’.

METHODOLOGICAL POINTERS TOWARDS AN EXAMINATION OF ADVERTIZING DISCOURSE

Our purpose is to of course move beyond an exposition of the ideological discourses of the 1960’s or 1970’s on the issue of advertizing. Further, the ad hoc critique of such discourses which we have attempted above is obviously not enough in trying to understand how an Amalia Eleftheriadou would have responded to the phenomenon of advertisements. To achieve some understanding of this historical reality, we shall have to approach the matter from the vantage point of a historical sociology. The latter discipline can make use of a wide variety of methodologies, all of which have their pros and cons and none of which can easily be rejected out of hand. Here, we shall briefly stipulate the methodological pointers we shall be employing for our purposes – and we have chosen such methods because it seems to suit the particular object we are here researching: the end-product of our findings remains to be either further verified, or amended, or of course rejected.

Firstly, throughout what follows, we shall have to reject the idea that whatever “system” – such as that of the world of advertisements – can be taken to be a “monolithic authority”. In fact, the very idea of any “totalitarianism” in describing “systems” – so easily thrown about when discussing various social formations – needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. For instance, in discussing the history of the USSR – a society often labeled “totalitarian” – Hobsbawm would comment:

«Όσο κτηνώδες και δικτατορικό κι αν ήταν
το σοβιετικό καθεστώς, δεν ήταν “ολοκληρωτικό”
Για την πλειοψηφία των σοβιετικών πολιτών
οι περισσότερες δημόσιες δηλώσεις για την
πολιτική και την ιδεολογία που προέρχονταν
από την κομματική ηγεσία, πιθανότατα δεν
 περνούσαν καν στη συνείδησή τους, εκτός κι αν
 είχαν κάποια σχέση με τα καθημερινά τους
 προβλήματα – πράγμα σπάνιο» (E. Hobsbawm,
op. cit., pp.503-504, my emph.).

We do not at all wish to argue that if the citizens of Stalin’s “brutal dictatorship” could somehow dodge the doings of such regime and “live” their own everyday lives, how much more so could an Amalia Eleftheriadou escape the intentions of a ‘Colgate’ advertisement meant to ”reproduce” her identity into one of its “successful stereotypes”, and so on. That is not our point at all – rather, what concerns us here is Hobsbawm’s socio-historical method – i.e. the refusal to examine “authority” as if that is absolutely “monolithic” and capable of reducing everyone to “hypnotized” objects. Such a reduction would necessarily come down to a de facto rejection of whatever “forms of life” were to ensue in the post-war modern world. And that was exactly what was to happen in the theoretical work of the Frankfurtian Marxists. But it was one of the representatives of that same School of Thought, Jϋrgen Habermas, who would, by 1985, undertake a radical critique of the theoretical implications of such School. In his important boofk, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity [greek edition: O φιλοσοφικός λόγος της νεωτερικότητας, Αλεξάνδρεια, 1993], Habermas would go on to summarize the implications of such philosophical thinking, and perhaps especially that of Adorno, as succinctly as possible – he would describe such implications as the –

«… ολικευτική απόρριψη των νεωτερικών
μορφών ζωής…» (p. 415, my emph.).

Thus, it was now not simply a question of rejecting – on the part of Habermas in 1985 – forms of philosophical thinking which had themselves holistically rejected “the system” as that had been shaped (or was being shaped) after World War II in Europe – it was also a question of now taking seriously all “forms of life” that manifested themselves within civil society. The “Amalia-type” was such a “form of life” which had to be analyzed objectively and in all its contradictions. (One central question which shall arise when we analyze such “type” will be the extent to which, given the material conditions of the post-war period, it constituted a somewhat “new type” of person.)

It was not only a matter of having to reject the idea that the post-war “system” (or “systems” and “sub-systems”) was an all-powerful “monolithic authority”, or of having to re-consider the multi-dimensionality of the different “forms of life” – now, and naturally following from such a new approach, special emphasis had to be placed on an examination of the internal contradictions, differences, nuances, etc., of all “forms of life”, be that, say, of the phenomenon of advertizing, or that of the “Amalia-type” (both being “forms of life”). Such thinking was of course well beyond Adorno et al. Now, anyone even slightly acquainted with the thinking of Habermas will most probably protest that we are not doing him much justice as regards his much more complex relationship with the old Frankfurtians – and yet this is how he would evaluate the theoretical results of the old Frankfurt School in his 1985 work:

«Οι διαφορές και αντιθέσεις έχουν …
υπονομευθεί, και μάλιστα καταρρεύσει,
ώστε η κριτική δεν μπορεί πια να διακρίνει
χρωματικές αντιθέσεις, αποχρώσεις και
διφορούμενους τόνους μέσα στο επίπεδο
και άχρωμο τοπίο ενός πλήρως διοικούμενου,
υπολογιζόμενου και εξουσιαζόμενου
κόσμου» (ibid).

Were one, in other words, to have accepted the overall logic of the old Frankfurtians, one could only but have come up with conclusions such as those enumerated above and now fully rejected by Habermas.

In examining the advertizing sector in Greece and how the “Amalia-type” responded to it, we too shall absolutely steer clear of whatever could possibly suggest any form of such a «πλήρως διοικούμενου, υπολογιζόμενου και εξουσιαζόμενου κόσμου»: any such ‘theoretical’ slip would blind us to whatever possible contradictions a) within the advertizing discourse per se, b) within the “Amalia-type” per se, and c) between the advertizing discourse and the “Amalia-type” (as relationship) – all three nexuses ought not to lose that contradictory vitality which makes of them true “life-forms”. This shall be one of our singularly most important methodological targets.

So that we may further clarify such a methodological target, we may contrast it directly to the theoretical orientation of Horkheimer’s and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment  (op. cit.) – they write:

«Η διαφήμιση σήμερα είναι μια αρνητική
αρχή, ένας μηχανισμός αποκλεισμού: ό,τι
δεν φέρει τη σφραγίδα της είναι οικονομικά
ύποπτο» (p. 269).

Tentatively, our methodological approach would critically examine such an observation by positing questions such as the following: Firstly, is it accurate to say that advertizing is merely a “single mechanism” («έναςμηχανισμός»)? Is it not maybe a series of mechanisms or maybe a series of discourses which could possibly stand in contradiction to one another? Is it not possible that in 1960’s-1970’s Greece there were mechanisms and discourses which related conflictually/competitively to one another given, inter alia, that some were promoting technologically superior ‘global’ products whereas others struggled to survive as good-old/familiar ‘local’ products? And, secondly, if there was such an internal contradiction within advertizing-discourse-as-a-whole, what effect would this have had on an “Amalia-type”? Is it not possible that an Amalia Eleftheriadou could have found herself within a contradiction-riddled dilemma whereby she could have asked herself whether she would prefer products expressive of a new-found “internationalism” or products expressive of a familiar/habitual “traditionalism”? And thirdly, and as regards the relationship between an advertisement and an Amalia Eleftheriadou, is it not possible that, given her own contradictory social reality (young and fairly well-educated but also fairly badly-remunerated and “despotically” repressed by her boss at the A&M Mill, etc.), she could have doubted or even rejected the “exclusion” suggested by an advertisement, or ignored “suspicions” raised by a product not bearing a particular brand-name? The question here is to what extent the “Amalia-type” would have accepted, compromised with, or rejected the “provocative-interventionist” messages which some “global” advertizing discourse carried. Is it not possible that advertisements which would try to raise fears of “exclusion” could themselves be excluded by an Amalia herself? Or, alternatively, is it not possible that advertisements which provoked whatever “suspicions” could themselves be suspected by the receptor? Now, in trying to answer such latter types of questions, we are able to employ two different types of methods: firstly, we could try to surmise how the “Amalia-type” would have most probably responded given her very specific socio-economic and other personal circumstances (age and sex, of course, included). But secondly, and more importantly, we shall use a method of argumentation that had been well employed by Nikos Poulantzas himself.

To understand such argumentation – and which constituted a method of seeing ‘simple’ and ‘hard’ facts in all their complexity – we shall have to digress slightly and very briefly refer to the history of its development. In the 1960’s-1970’s period, Poulantzas was struggling to come up with some theory of the capitalist State which would be capable of explaining the endless paradoxes of its own practices within society (and for him, this State would include both “public” and “private” apparatuses such as organizational structures producing the discourse of advertizing). In his attempts to develop such a theory, he was confronted with conceptions of the State very much similar to the type we have been referring to above in examining the “Left intellectuals” and their interpretation of consumerism/advertizing. Poulantzas would confront such conceptions in a variety of ways – for instance, in his article, «Οι σημερινοί μετασχηματισμοί του Κράτους…» (in The Crisis of the State [greek edition: Η κρίση του Κράτους, Διεύθυνση: Ν. Πουλαντζάς, Εκδόσεις Παπαζήση, [no date]), he would write:

«… ένας θεσμός, το Κράτος, … δεν είναι και δεν
μπορεί να είναι, όπως θεωρούν οι αντιλήψεις
του Κράτους ως Πράγματος και του Κράτους ως
Υποκειμένου, ένα άρρηκτο μονολιθικό
 συγκρότημα, αλλά αντίθετα είναι από την ίδια
τη δομή του διαιρεμένο» (p. 38, my emph.).

And further, in his Για τον Γκράμσι (Εκδόσεις Πολύτυπο, Αθήνα, 1984), he would attack the Frankfurtians as follows:

«… αυτή η αμετάβλητη σχέση ιδεολογίας -αλλοτρίωσης-πραγματικότητας είναι
φανερή σ’ όλες τις “υποκειμενιστικές”
μαρξίζουσες αντιλήψεις απ’ τον Γκολντμάν
μέχρι τον Αντόρνο και τον Μαρκούζε, που
ερμηνεύουν τις σημερινές κοινωνικές
εξελίξεις σύμφωνα με το σχήμα μιας ολικής
πραγμοποίησης-αλλοτρίωσης του υποκειμένου
μέσα στο πραγματικό, καταλήγοντας στο
συμπέρασμα της “απορρόφησης της ιδεολογίας
μέσα στην πραγματικότητα”…» (p. 60, his emph.).

We have, of course, already come across the idea that ‘ideology’ had been “absorbed” within ‘reality’ when referring to Fromm’s suggestion that we “drink brand-names”, etc. Now, Poulantzas would continue his theoretical struggles up until 1978, with his final and truly brilliant State, Power, Socialism – but, even by that time, the idea that the State (and all its Dominant Discourse, and especially, as we have seen, its advertizing/consumerist discourse) was a simple instrument of Capital imposing itself on blinded and alienated masses of people, would continue to dominate “Left-wing” thinking, especially in Europe – the sheer simplicity of the idea would suit the ‘radical’ fashions of the day. In his State, Power, Socialism (published by Θεμέλιο in Greece in June 2008), Poulantzas would make his final attempt to convince people that neither the State nor whatever of its discourses were mere “instruments” of the “system” – the method he would here use is of major interest to us in that it would help us measure the extent to which an “Amalia-type” would herself play her own role in determining the content of advertizing discourse. With reference to the form of State in capitalist societies, Poulantzas would pose the following question:

«… γιατί η αστική τάξη, για να εξασφαλίσει
την κυριαρχία της, προσφεύγει σε τούτο
το εθνικό-λαϊκό Κράτος, σε τούτο το
σύγχρονο αντιπροσωπευτικό Κράτος με
τους ιδιαίτερους θεσμούς του, και όχι
σ’ ένα άλλο; Διότι δεν είναι καθόλου
 πρόδηλο – κάθε άλλο – πως αν η αστική
 τάξη μπορούσε να συγκροτήσει το Κράτος
 από το Α ως το Ω, και όπως της ταιριάζει,
 θα διάλεγε τούτο εδώ το Κράτος. Αν
 από τούτο το Κράτος αποκόμισε και
 εξακολουθεί να αποκομίζει πολλά οφέλη,
 απέχει ωστόσο πολύ, σήμερα όπως και στο
 παρελθόν, από το να είναι πάντα ικανοποιημένη
 απ’ αυτό» (p. 15, my emph.).

The implications of such method of thinking – which of course suggests that the State was never an “instrument” or a “making” of any one class but is rather a relationship of social forces and discourses within its own multifarious structures – were quite indigestible for the dogmatic “Left”. For our purposes, we have here a terrain of social participation on the part of the popular masses and within whatever ideological discourse, which calls for hard empirical research. If the form of capitalist State was not wholly of the making of the capitalist class, then neither was the discourse/s of such State, and which therefore means that the discourse of advertizing was itself never fully of the making of any «Εξουσίας-Κενταύρου, μισής-ανθρώπου, μισής-κτήνους» (as Poulantzas describes such understanding of the State, ibid.). Now, it is that extent of State practices and discourses which was not of the making of the ruling classes – that remaining “space” – which points to the presence of an “Amalia-type” in the ultimate forging of ideology as inscribed in advertizing discourse. Our purpose here therefore, practically and methodologically speaking, is to examine concrete examples of advertizing in the 1960’s-1970’s and to identify traces of discourse left behind by the wishes, the tastes, the prejudices, etc., of an “Amalia-type – i.e., to find samples of advertizing discourse which the advertizing sector would not have been «πάντα ικανοποιημένη απ’ αυτό», or to at least identify traces of that remaining “space” in advertizing discourse which had to take into account the pulls and pushes exerted on it by the sheer presence of the thousands of Amalias that lived and worked in Greece at the time.

We may put the matter slightly otherwise: if and only if we do identify such traces of the “Amalia-presence” within advertizing discourse of the period, shall we be able to verify, not only the general political philosophy of Poulantzas himself (but whose thought too must also be seen as a product of his age), but the more specific position that Amalia Eleftheriadou was never herself a victim of any “false consciousness” imposed on her by an all-powerful “System”. And if we do find cases of advertizing discourse which suggest that that discourse had to adjust to the whims of an “Amalia-type”, we shall also be able to identify elements of the thinking and habits of an Amalia Eleftheriadou (as a specific “form of life”), and delineate how that constituted her response to the world of advertizing. The enterprise before us, then, stands or falls according to our empirical findings and as these are interpreted by us. On the other hand, and whatever our findings, we already know that the “private” ideological apparatuses of the Greek State – i.e. the structures set up by the advertizing industry to produce advertizing discourse – included the presence of elements of Greek society which had adopted an oppositional stance to the Greek State as a whole (we are obviously referring here to the “Left-wing-Kakoulidis-type” discussed above). Thus, we have here a case (one of those many apparent “paradoxes” of the capitalist State we frequently bump into as we observe everyday life) which verifies the position that the Greek State apparatuses – and especially those which supposedly produced advertizing discourse as an ideology of socio-political domination – were never a monolithic «Εξουσία-Κένταυρος», but were complex and contradictory enough to include the presence of the “Left-wing intellectual” as copywriter within their structures. But while the “Kakoulidis-type” was present within such structures, this was obviously not the case as regards a “Clerk” working in the Headquarters of an Aliartian Mill: what we shall try to show below is the extent to which the “Amalia-type” (her own specific “common nous”) was “present” in the discourse of advertizing, but “from a distance”.

Adopting the type of methodological approach we have pointed to above, we shall very naturally have to be quite critical of any concepts relating to the idea of “manipulation”. Our intention is surely not to reject the idea that advertisements may very well have attempted to “manipulate” an “Amalia-type” – on the other hand, we shall steer clear of taking whatever possibility of “manipulation” for granted. To give us an idea of precisely what needs to be avoided, let us take a sample passage from the Roupa study (op. cit.), where she speaks of the role of the Americans in the field of Greek advertizing in the 1960’s – she writes:

«Σχετικά με την κυριαρχία των αμερικανικών
προτύπων να σημειωθεί ότι η διαφημιστική
εταιρεία “Μίνως” είχε ως σύμβουλο τον Αμερικανό
Dr. Ernest Dichter (1907-1991), που ήταν γνωστός
για τη μέθοδο χειραγώγησης του καταναλωτή
“Motivational Research” (1946) και είχε ιδρύσει
το “Ινστιτούτο Μελέτης Ψυχολογικών Κινήτρων”
(Institute of Motivational Research)» (p. 263).

Firstly, in terms of our methodological approach, the idea of a «κυριαρχία … προτύπων» could not be seen as an absolute dominance – but, further, even a possibly relative dominance of American prototypes and methods tells us, in itself, very little about the extent to which such prototypes and methods had – or did not have – to be adjusted to the Greek reality (and in manners which could qualify whatever degree of intended “manipulation”). As happens throughout the Roupa study, any references to “motivation” are automatically translated into “manipulation”. In fact, one could argue that it would be impossible to “motivate” anyone to do anything unless one takes into consideration what it is that “motivates” the other. The person’s particular needs, based on objective class position, cultural context, etc., will inevitably have to be considered. To the extent that they are taken into account, the “motivator”/potential “manipulator” (the advertiser) becomes himself “motivated” (by the consumer, who delimits the advertiser’s field of manoeuvre, and thus “motivates” the advertiser to stick to such field). But this, then, comes to constitute a veritable arena of strugglebetween different socio-cultural/ideological practices, as also economic interests. And, of course, this is all in keeping with the manner Poulantzas has presented the idea of the capitalist State-as-a-Whole.

All this now allows us to stipulate our central methodological tool, and which will be practically applied as we examine each advertisement separately – in his State, Power, Socialism (op. cit.), as also elsewhere in his work (and always deeply influenced by Gramsci), Poulantzas has presented the so-called “dominant discourse” in capitalist society, in the latter’s various forms,  as follows:

 «[It is a] πεδίο μιας ασταθούς ισορροπίας
 συμβιβασμών» (op. cit., p.43).

These “compromises” take place between those who “control” – relatively speaking – the means of production of discourse (here, the advertizing companies) and those who are meant to “receive” such discourse (inter alia, the “Amalia-type”). Each and every sample of an advertisement can only but be analyzed by placing it within the context of this “terrain” wherein we have a continually unsteady balance of on-going “compromises” between the advertizing companies and the consuming masses. Being an on-going ideological/cultural struggle, there can be times when the one side will triumph wholly over the other, but such “imbalance” cannot last for too long, and a new “balance” will have to be found and various “compromises” have to be made, and on like that. Speaking of such types of on-going struggles, one should not at all imagine masses of people taking to the streets and burning down the headquarters of some advertizing company – things could happen like that but most unusually so: rather, and which is (or was, for our purposes) an on-going daily practice amongst consumers, one could observe an Amalia Eleftheriadou dropping the idea of buying a ‘Kelvinator’ and opting for an ‘Izola’ product instead, depending on what she read, saw or heard about such products. Very simply, consumers can and do show their teeth by buying or not buying particular things, and this is not necessarily a mere “passive” form of “resistance” on the part of the popular masses.

Making use of such methodological tools, we shall attempt to interpret the very specific advertizing discourse in Greece in the 1950’s-1970’s period – and the relationships that were articulated between such discourse and the “Amalia-type” – by placing the matter within an as specific socio-historical framework. We may very briefly outline such framework as follows:

1. Especially as regards the 1950’s and 1960’s, Greek society as a whole was characterized by a deep socio-cultural clash between what we may call the “residual element” (“localism”/”traditionalism”) and the “modern element” (the influx of the “foreign”/”overseas” socio-cultural paradigm). Very schematically, we could say that the “residual element” was predominantly expressive of the older generations, all of whom carried the highly traumatic war-memories of their very recent past (both the German Occupation and the Civil War). Again very schematically, we could say that the “modern element” was predominantly expressive of the younger generations, all of whom were children of what seemed to be – and in fact was – a permanent peace-time. (We are fully aware of the dangers of over-simplification here, but we shall not bother with these at this point, as they do not seriously affect the overall conceptualization of our framework).

2. Highly symptomatic of this major socio-cultural clash is what Thrilos (op. cit., p. 296) would call the syndrome of a «ψυχική αστάθεια» and which would envelope (in varying degrees of intensity) the whole of Greek society – in fact, and as we shall see in the sub-section that immediately follows, the Thrilos observation would be repeated in a variety of different ways by an array of Greek writers and other commentators (including the local newspapers of Boeotia, as also the local paper of Aliarto itself).

3. Within such a context of (mass psychic) “instability”, the ideological discourses of the period – while deeply contradictory within themselves (and in fact highly conflictual at the political level) – would attempt to maintain a balance of compromises at the level of socio-cultural practices: such an attempt at a balance of compromises would inevitably be most apparent within the field of advertizing discourse (the need to sell products and the need to buy them would ‘lock’ the parties, involved in such transactions, in a two-way discourse). Put otherwise, and specifically as regards socio-cultural practices/paradigms, there was a need to maintain balances in a world of objective imbalances and essentially transitional instabilities.

4. But given such objective world,  the on-going attempts at maintaining whatever ideological balances would yield a thoroughly vacillating advertizing discourse (the objective instabilities would be reflected in the unstable balances of advertizing discourse): we shall come across advertisements which displayed varying degrees of ‘compromising balances’ and degrees of ‘non-compromising imbalances’, and such degrees would, to some extent, be determined by the consumer reactions of an “Amalia-type” (this constituting her own “space” of intervention whichwe have spoken of above).

5. Thus, and given such vacillation, the general ‘body’ of advertizing discourse at the time would vary between two extremes: on the one hand, a discourse of “compromise” and “adjustment” with respect to the realities of an “Amalia-type” and, right at the other end of the scale, a discourse of “provocative-interventionism” which could ignore or even insult the tastes and world-view of an Amalia Eleftheriadou.  As a ‘body’ in toto, the advertizing discourse of the period, and given the need to maintain precisely the balances we have been referring to, would include a wide range of advertisements which would fall in-between these two extremes. Such in-between advertisement-types would fulfill the function of what Gramsci had once identified as the “law of determined proportionality” activated between and within the structures of social discourse so as to help maintain the overall reproduction of a social formation. (cf. A. Gramsci, «Ο σύγχρονος ηγεμόνας», in Για την πολιτική και για το σύγχρονο κράτος, ΗΜΕΡΗΣΙΑ Α.Ε.Ε., 2010, pp. 166-167).

Before we undertake an examination of the advertisements themselves, and in keeping with the framework outlined, we shall have to dwell on the historical context of the period.

GLOSSARY

NOTES

● «Για τον Γράμσι…»: “For Gramsci…”
● «Εξουσίας-Κενταύρου, μισής-ανθρώπου, μισής-κτήνους»: “Centaur-Power, half-man, half-beast”.
● «κυριαρχία… προτύπων»: dominance of… models/prototypes
● «Ο σύγχρονος ηγεμόνας»; «Για την πολιτική και για το σύγχρονο κράτος»: “The modern prince”; “On politics and the modern state”.
● «Οι σημερινοί μετασχηματισμοί του Κράτους»: “The current transformations of the State”.
● «πάντα ικανοποιημένη απ’ αυτό»: always satisfied with it
● «πλήρως διοικούμενου, υπολογιζόμενου και εξουσιαζόμενου κόσμου»: fully managed, calculated and dominated world
● «ψυχική αστάθεια»: mental instability

THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, ESPECIALLY THE 1950’s-1960’s PERIOD

By the late 1950’s, we may say – descriptively speaking – that Greece had already undergone some ‘great change’. Writing in 1959, Nikos Tsiforos, in his Ελληνική κρουαζιέρα [Greek Cruise, Ερμής, 1975], would point to the dramatic changes that had taken place by describing the reactions of a Greek on returning to his homeland – we read:

«Παλιοχώρι την θυμότανε την Ελλάδα,
τώρα άνοιξε τα μάτια. “Μπας κι’ έκανα
λάθος;… Τούτη η λεωφόρος, τούτα τα
φώτα, τούτα τα χτίρια!... ρε πώς άλλαξαν
έτσι!”… και έτριβε τα μάτια του» (p. 50).

But these great changes happening by the late-1950’s were accompanied by a generalized confusion, amounting to a mass psychological clash of “values” (we may remember the Thrilos observation mentioned above): flux characterized the period. And the radical transformations that were underway in Greece meant, not only an influx of the “Western” style of life, but also an anxiety (cf. the observations of Vasos Varikas, in his Συγγραφείς και κείμενα, 1955-1959 [Writers and Texts, 1955-1959, Ερμής, Αθήνα, 2003], p. 21, p. 67, p. 86, pp. 165-166, et al) on the part of the popular masses to digest such new “values” and to try to “evaluate” them in their own terms. Of course, following the destructions of World War II, such “Western values” were also being critically questioned by the Europeans themselves (hence the impact of an Adorno et al), and which would add to the generalized confusion within Greece at the time. “Modernity”, in other words, was banging on the door of the Greek people, and was doing so all too abruptly, all too provocatively, and just a bit too violently. All this would, of course, appeal to – and challenge – the younger generations, though these too would find themselves locked in clashes with the Patriarchal Family Unit to which they all belonged, or even with clashes over “ethical” matters with their own boss if they happened to be employed (cf. our paper on 28 year-old Ekaterini Douka, who worked as a “Chemist” for the A&M Mill in 1961-1962, and had frequently been involved in such “ethical clashes” with her as-“Patriarchal” boss, Maraki).

Such generalized confusion within Greece was very accurately captured in 1957 by an otherwise mediocre “intellectual”, Petros Haris, whose long-time service as Editor of the periodical Nea Hestia (1933-1987) would at times enable him to “read” – but not at all explain –  the situation quite perceptively. In an article entitled «Έπειτ’ από τα τριάντα χρόνια» (cf. Nea Hestia, No 720 – Athens, July 1st 1957), he would make observations with respect to the late-1950’s such as the following:

  • «γενική σύγχυση» (p. 890)
  • «το σχήμα της ρευστής εποχής μας» (ibid.)
  • «τι είναι αυτός ο “δυτικός κόσμος”, τι αξίζει … έπειτ’ από τόσες ριζικές μεταβολές, τι μπορεί να προσφέρει στο μεταπολεμικό άτομο…;» (p. 891)
  • «… προβλήματα, που έχουν γίνει πύρινοι κύκλοι…» (ibid.)…[etc.].

Especially his phrase «πύρινοι κύκλοι» would perhaps most accurately describe the vicious circle of contradictions that Greek society had found itself caught up in, especially at the level of socio-cultural practices, and which would involve the whole of the population, with the “Amalia-type” certainly included (the political contradictions, as intense, would only directly involve a fraction of the population, and even such fraction would have no choice but retreat from political activity following the seizure of power by the Colonels in 1967).

We have already pointed to the clash between the “residual” and the “modern” – it was this that would galvanize such «πύρινους κύκλους», and such clash would take a variety of forms. In 1961, Koeppen (op. cit.) would himself observe the general contradiction as follows:

 «Η Αθήνα είναι σταυροδρόμι του αέρα.
Φαρδείς δρόμοι, σκόνη, αμερικάνικα
αυτοκίνητα, πού και πού ένα κάρο που
το σέρνει γάιδαρος» (p. 13, my emph.).

Imported technology, here represented by the American automobile, would be accompanied by the “primitive technology” of rooted tradition, here represented by the use of the donkey as a means of transport. We shall have to see how such «σταυροδρόμι του αέρα» would have an impact on the socio-cultural discourse of the popular masses, and especially as that would permeate into and structure advertizing discourse – as suggested above, the latter would often have to somehow try to achieve some sort of “balance” between the “world” of the American automobile and that of the Greek donkey, both such “worlds” carrying their own sets of “values”.

This clash of “values” and incompatible “realities” would at the same time mean that we had the sudden advent of “modernity” being confronted by the reality of a widespread impoverishment which lurked on from the past – such impoverishment, while most pronounced in the rural “periphery”, was actually also quite evident in the “cultural centre” of Greece, in Athens, and even in the central Square of such “cultural centre”, at ‘Πλατεία Συντάγματος’ – this is how Koeppen describes his impressions of the city’s Constitution Square in 1961:

«…να κοιτάς από το παράθυρο του
μοναδικού παλιού εστιατορίου την
εγκαταλειμμένη πλατεία, περιτριγυρισμένος
από μύγες…» (p. 14).

In the early-1960’s, the “cultural centre” of Greece, and even its central squares – while being the very first recipients of “modernity”, and as also the very first to display «ρεκλάμες  πολύχρωμες» (Koumandareas, op. cit.) – was still an area teeming with flies and mosquitoes. Elsewhere, Koeppen would continue:

«Η Αθήνα μοσχοβολούσε … ψημένο
καλαμπόκι, σαφώς αντικουνουπικό…»
(pp. 17-18).

Flies and mosquitoes, as is obvious, are symptomatic of unhygienic material conditions and thus of poverty: especially as regards the problem of mosquitoes, we know that the area of Aliarto itself had always been plagued by it given the presence of the drained lake of «Κωπαΐδα» in the region (cf., for instance, V. Katsifi-Zota, Η λίμνη της Κωπαΐδας, [Lake Copais], Αθήνα, Ιούλιος 2005). Thus, whatever rudiments of “modernity” were to filter through to Amalia Eleftheriadou’s place of residence in the 1950’s-1960’s (and on), these were to be ‘accompanied’ by the swarms of mosquitoes that continued to survive years after the drainage of the lake. Such ‘natural’ phenomena, therefore – but which were also as much ‘social’, given the underdeveloped economic infrastructure of the country at least up until the early 1950’s – must themselves be seen as part and parcel of the clash between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ which we are here describing.

That such clash of “values” and “realities” was conducive to a state of anxiety amongst the popular masses – i.e. that uncomfortable balance in the minds of people between foreign technology/”modernity”, on the one hand, and local “primitiveness”/”Greekness”, on the other – was most succinctly expressed by that major Greek poet, George Seferis, and which shows that he had fully understood and empathized with the Greek “common nous” (and there was such relative commonality of feeling amongst the various social strata when it came to the clash we are describing here). It was in 1967 that he would write:

«… με δυσκολεύει η βιομηχανία των
ξένων» (cf. Ignatis Trelos (G. Seferis),
 Οι ώρες της κυρίας Έρσης [The Hours of Mrs Erse Ερμής,
Αθήνα, 1973 (first published 15.4.1967),
p. 45, my emph.).

This “difficulty”, reflective of socio-cultural discourse at the time (and, as we shall see, as much present in advertizing discourse), often appeared as a dominant theme in the writings of people who had lived, and lived intensely, the turbulent transition from pre- to post-war Greece. And excellent example of this, coming from an as excellent a writer, is the work of Asimakis Panselinos’ Τότε που ζούσαμε (op. cit.). Even the very title of his book, published in 1974, obviously suggests his ‘preference’ for 1930’s Greece: for him, it was then that the Greek people truly “lived”. Of course, this is quite reminiscent of the “Left-wing” thinking we have been discussing above, in that it implies the one-dimensionalist “alienation” of the person in post-war “modern times”, and we do know that Panselinos was himself a “Left-winger” (dogmatic and uninformed ‘Stalinist’ in his student days but not at all so in later years). But Panselinos was not to really dwell on whatever “alienation” in his work – what concerned him was to above all describe the “old” style of life in Greece, to at times compare that with the “new”, and to somehow try and understand both. In so doing, however, he could be said to be a bit ‘guilty’ of that ‘nostalgic romanticism’ that Alkis Thrilos had referred to (cf. above) – but such  ‘romanticism’, on the part of Panselinos, was simply a symptom of that on-going clash of “values” and of “realities” that had made Seferis himself say, «με δυσκολεύει». The “difficulties” expressed both by Seferis and by Panselinos would definitely also have been of concern to the fathers and mothers of an “Amalia-type”, and this was precisely what was causing that clash and confusion – that complex of «πύρινοι κύκλοι» – which Haris had written of.

Having clarified the case of Panselinos, we may here very briefly present samples of his work which express this difference between the “old” and the “new”. Writing in the early 1970’s, he would ‘travel’ back to the Athens of 1929-1930 and comment:

«Συλλογιέμαι την Αθήνα τα χρόνια εκείνα
που ήταν φτωχιά και γιόρταζε ακόμα στις
στήλες του Ολύμπιου Δία τα κούλουμα με
ταραμά, χαλβά και λατέρνα. Φαίνεται τότε
να είχαν τα σπίτια της ψυχή πιο βαθιά»
(p. 168, my emph.).

There was, in the ‘atmosphere’ of 1930’s Athens, a deeper “spiritual” element that Panselinos could see in contrast to that of the 1970’s – such “spirituality”, of course, had nothing to do either with the “intellectualist” “Spirit” of a Karandonis or with the “proletarian” “Spirit” of a Sotiriou. He would see such «ψυχή» in the popular everyday socio-cultural practices of the period and which, at least by the 1970’s when he was writing his book, had become “residual” (to the extent that some traces of it had then still survived – we note that Panselinos adopts a relativistic position, speaking of «πιο βαθιά»).

Related to this “spiritual” element in the ‘atmosphere’ of the 1930’s, Panselinos would also speak of a “mystical” atmosphere in the streets of late night-time Athens – we read:

«Γυρνούσαμε αργά… Τα ανάρια φώτα από
τους φανοστάτες φωτίζαν τους δρόμους
μ’ ένα φως μυστικιστικό» (p. 171, my emph.).

One may feel rather dubious as regards Panselinos’ descriptive/subjective terms such as «μυστικιστικό» when describing the pre-war years. And yet, one could argue that what he is describing here is in fact an ‘objective reality’ and which was to stand in stark contrast to the “new” that was coming. Such stark difference in ‘atmosphere’ is clearly explainable in terms of the technological infrastructures available in Greece before and after the war, and here specifically as regards the quality of electrification. The dim lights Panselinos speaks of («ανάρια φώτα») were a product of the then relatively “primitive” technology of the time (albeit provided by the Ελληνική Ηλεκτρική Εταιρία, itself established by the US-based Thompson-Houston), and could and did create an ‘atmosphere’ of the “mystical” (or, depending on one’s mood, could even provoke a state of ‘misery’). Anyone who has happened to walk around the little villages near Thiva – even as late as the 1970’s – would know exactly what we are talking about here. Now, such «ανάρια φώτα» (and the “mystical” that went with these) were to be ultimately replaced by the ‘bright lights” of ΔΕΗ, which was established in August 1950. It was precisely such “modernized” electrification network that would provide the essential infrastructure for the electrified advertisements we have spoken of above, and which would radically transform the whole ‘atmosphere’ of Greek cities and towns (and which would definitely include Thiva and Levadia, both of which constituted centers of entertainment for the “Amalia-type”). Panselinos’ «φως μυστικιστικό» must be directly contrasted to the “atmospheric effects” of advertizing in the early 1970’s, and as such “effects” were described by Daskalopoulou above (as quoted: «Όταν ανάβουν τα φώτα, οι λέξεις αναβοσβήνουν σε χρώμα παπαγαλί κι η ατμόσφαιρα γύρω πρασινίζει»). This violent clash between the ‘dim lights’ of the past and the ‘bright lights” of the post-war period – and especially as such multi-coloured ‘brightness’ was used in promoting new products – would also mean as violent a clash between different ‘psychologies’: the up-and-coming younger generations, born in “modernity” and within such ‘bright lights’, would relate to such ‘world’ in a manner one might describe as ‘natural’ (for want of a better word) and would definitely feel ‘miserable’ whenever confronted by any residual «ανάρια φώτα» around them (and much of such lighting would persist in the Aliarto of the 1950’s and 1960’s). In contrast, the older generations, having grown up in the «φως μυστικιστικό» as described by Panselinos, would, in some sense, be ‘blinded’ – not to say ‘shocked’ – by this radically new phenomenon (and the advertizing that went with it).

It must have been, surely, this sheer blinding ‘rawness’ of such ‘new world’ which seemed prepared to ‘expose’ everything – as opposed to the ‘mystical spirituality’ of the ‘old’, and which itself had never dared reveal the naked truths of its own reality under any spot-lights of electricity – which would cause Panselinos to at times adopt some degree of that ‘nostalgic romanticism’ we have alluded to above. He would thus willingly acknowledge his rather idyllic stance as regards the pre-war years:

«Η αλήθεια είναι πως τα χρόνια εκείνα,
λίγο πριν από το 1930 και λίγο μετά,
η Αθήνα για μας φαινόταν ειδυλλιακή».
(p. 173).

Panselinos would go on to point to the sharp contrast that marked that old Athens in relation to what he was seeing around him in the early 1970’s. He would note the dominance of “modernity”, especially amongst the new generations, and how such “modernity” had meant an influx of its ‘fashions’ within Greece. His language shows the difficulty he feels in trying to digest the ‘new’, and yet he certainly tries to explain what was happening in his own way – for instance, he writes:

«… σήμερα πάλι, οι άνθρωποι θρέφουν
μαλλούρα και γένια, φορούν απίθανα
ρούχα, γυρνάν ξυπόλυτοι, ξετραχηλισμένοι,
για να αλλάξουν σουλούπι, και να μη
μοιάζουν με τους καλοντυμένους
ευπαρουσίαστους φιλισταίους, που ρίξαν
την ανθρωπότητα στον όλεθρο του
πολέμου» (p. 158).

We may say that both Seferis and Panselinos, and at least based on the particular quotes presented, would see the clash of “values” going on at the time and sense what we have referred to as that “uncomfortable balance” in the minds of people between foreign “modernity” and local “traditionalism”. To some extent, therefore, their thought reflected that of the “average Greeks” (and especially but not exclusively the older generations) who were still trying to come to terms with the onslaught of the “foreign element” – and while the latter would itself try to “adjust” to local conditions (and as that especially happened, as we shall try to show, in the discourse of advertisements). And it could only but take time before that turbulence of the transitional period would ebb and the tide of socio-cultural contradictions fall. There were, of course, many Greek “intellectuals” who had long since already accepted some ‘bond’ and/or some ‘cultural commerce’ between “Greekness” and “foreignness” – one such case being that of Giannis Psiharis. Even as early as at the turn of the century, an “intellectual” such as him would be able to weave some kind of delicate balance between his “Greekness” and his “Frenchness” – as Panselinos would himself describe the case of Psiharis and the «λόγος» of the latter:

«Ήταν μια τέχνη πολύτροπη. Μια
φινέτσα φραντσέζικη και μια γουστόζικη
ρωμαίικη τσαχπινιά» (op. cit., p. 133).

But the likes of a Psiharis were in no way representative of Greek society as a whole – in any case, Psiharis was himself something of  an eccentric who resided in France and whose own identity was divided between that of “Greekness” and “Frenchness”. That «τέχνη πολύτροπη» – whereby the “foreign” would articulate with, combine and be assimilated into the “local” – would, for the popular masses, constitute a traumatic historical process which would perhaps reach some apex only by the 1980’s. What concerns us here was how the “Amalia-type” would develop its very own «τέχνη» – itself as highly «πολύτροπη» – to both assimilate the “foreign” and maintain its essential “Greekness”.

The contradictory traumas of such historical process are most evident when one comes to consider how the “new” would try to ‘gate-crash’ into that more specific “arena of conflict” which was to unfold within the “peripheries” all over the rural or semi-rural regions of the country (Aliarto of course included). Such socio-cultural ‘gate-crashing’, especially within the Greek villages of the 1950’s, had deeply concerned, inter alia, a gentleman by the name of George P. Kanellakis, who happened to be an anti-communist as well as a monarchist. While one would expect such a person to be proud of the ‘fruits’ of the anti-communist “West”, and be appreciative of Marshall’s programme (AMAG) meant to reconstruct the Greek economy, he would nonetheless fully reject whatever “modernism” as destructive of Greek “traditionality” (and would therefore – oh so paradoxically – not have much disagreed with the “alienating” effects of Western consumerism that his communist enemies were to themselves talk about).

In Kanellakis’ book, published in Athens in 1955, entitled Επιστροφή εις το χωριό [Return to the village] and dedicated «Εις την Α.Μ. τον Βασιλέα ημών Παύλον – τον εμψυχωτήν και προστάτην του χωριού…[etc.]», we read:

«… το χωριό αντιμετωπίζει σήμερον … μεγάλον
… εχθρόν. Ο εχθρός αυτός είναι η πόλις. Μέχρι
προ ολίγων ετών, μόνο το χωριό μετεκινείτο
προς την πόλιν. Με την πύκνωσιν όμως της
συγκοινωνίας και με την διάδοσιν του
ραδιοφώνου και η πόλις μετακινείται, ολονέν
περισσότερον προς το χωριό» (p. 72).

For the “Right-wing” Mr. Kanellakis, the “enemy” threatening the traditional way of life of the “periphery” was of course “materialism” itself – though this was not at all that particular “dialectical materialism” hailing from Stalinist Moscow, but that other type, the one offered by the ‘Free World’, and which would ultimately enable Kanellakis’ peasant compatriots to make use of things such as fridges and indoor toilet basins. Kanellakis continues as follows:

«Προ του αυτοκινήτου και του ραδιοφώνου
[elsewhere K. also refers to the press and the
cinema – cf. p.55], το χωριό έζη ήρεμον με
τας συνηθείας του, τα ήθη και έθιμά του, τας
παραδόσεις του. Τώρα όμως ο υλισμός των
 πόλεων εισέρχεται, με την ταχύτητα και την
ευκολίαν που του παρέχουν τα σημερινά
μέσα του τεχνικού πολιτισμού, εις την ζωήν
του χωριού» (ibid., my emph.).

Both the “dialectical materialism” of communists and the US materialism of the anti-communists would be utterly rejected by a “Right-winger” such as Kanellakis: the former “materialism” (if he would at all have heard of it) would be rejected out of hand for solidly ‘political’ reasons; the latter would be as much rejected for as solidly ‘socio-cultural’ and/or ‘nationalist’ reasons. Here, in fact, we have a case whereby all forms of “technological civilization” are rejected as threats to the traditional “values” of an authentically Greek, rural lifestyle (and as such threat was coming in from an already ‘poisoned’ “cultural centre”). The key word here is ‘threat’ – it would be quite inevitable that both a Panselinos and a Kanellakis would not have wished to see their “idyllic” worlds be so violently and so swiftly threatened by unknown technological forces barging in from the outside and with unknown consequences. That both a “Left-wing” Panselinos and a monarchist such as Kanellakis would more or less feel the same way is not surprising at all – such emotional response was a generalized phenomenon amongst the Greek popular masses at the time, especially as regards the older generations (though the young as well, growing up as they did with their parents, could – but to a much lesser degree – also have shared elements of such emotional response in the 1950’s-1960’s). Unlike the inflexible monarchist, however, large sections of the population would also – and right at the same time – see such ‘threat’ as a luring challenge for personal material ‘progress’ – and which would further add to the confusion we have been referring to. Kanellakis would himself notice such proclivity for material progress amongst his compatriots and link it automatically to the “new” and “unethical” habits especially rampant amongst youth – he writes:

«Η υλιστική ζωή, το πνεύμα του μοντερνισμού,
η διάδοσις των προϊόντων του βιομηχανικού
πολιτισμού, ο κοσμοπολιτισμός μεταφυτεύονται
ταχύτατα εις το χωριό με το πιστοποιητικόν
μάλιστα της “προόδου” και της “εξελίξεως”.
Επίσης πολλά έντυπα με “επιστημονικάς”
δημαγωγίας και με ερωτικούς αισθησιασμούς
κυκλοφορούν, ολονέν περισσότερον, μεταξύ
της νεολαίας του χωριού, μεταφέροντας τας
ανωτέρω ιδέας της πόλεως. Τας παλαιάς αρχάς
και πεποιθήσεις, τα αγνά ήθη και έθιμα του
χωριού, αντικαθιστούν νέαι συνήθειαι και
τρόποι τελείως ασυμβίβαστοι με το πρώην
παρθένον περιβάλλον της υπαίθρου» (pp.
72-73).

Kanellakis would be most critical of those «νέαι συνήθειαι» especially being adopted by two particular categories of the Greek population living in the “periphery”: the females (more or less approximating the “Amalia-type”) and the young males (someone more or less like a Vasilis Damokas, a young “Blue-Collar” worker at the A&M Mill – cf. our paper investigating the case of this rather ‘ill-disciplined’ employee at the Mill, hired in 1962). As regards the females, Kanellakis would write:

«Η απλή λαϊκή ενδυμασία από υφάσματα,
κατά το πλείστον, επεξειργασμένα από τα
χέρια των γυναικών του χωριού, παραμερίζεται
από την επιδεικτικήν τουαλέτταν…» (p. 73).

As regards youth generally and more specifically the young males, he would go on:

«Η νεολαία, εξ άλλου, επηρεασμένη από
τας νέας αντιλήψεις αισθάνεται περιφρόνησιν
δια τας αγροτικάς ασχολίας και μόνον ιδανικόν
έχει την εγκατάστασίν της εις την Πρωτεύουσαν»
(p. 74).

This clash of “values” between old and young would of course also be as marked at Aliarto – a semi-rural/semi-urban area – and would not at all (or at least not only) come from the quarters of  so-called “conservative” “Right-wingers” and/or “monarchists”. And we need to emphasize here that neither the “emotional” responses of the old nor the “emotional” counter-responses of the young at Aliarto (and its environs), should be considered as “irrational” (in the specific Pareto sense, as discussed by Raymond Aron, in his Main Currents in Sociological Thought [greek edition: Η εξέλιξη της κοινωνιολογικής σκέψης, Εκδόσεις Γνώση, 1984, pp. 166-178): we shall have to return to this important methodological approach a bit further below.

Οn Saturday, December 30, 1961, Aliarto would see the launching of its own local newspaper, the Voiotike Floga – its front page would carry a «Στήλη των νέων» and therein an article would be published entitled «Η κραυγή του Αλέκου». This hypothetical “Alekos” represented the youth of the area and it is highly symptomatic of the ‘youth problem’ at the time that the Aliartian newspaper would decide to establish a permanent column in its front page dealing with the problems of that age category. In this first article on youth, Alekos would be presented as a very angry young man announcing his violent “arrival” to the older generations – signed by certain S. Damianos, part of the text reads as follows:

«…Να φωνάξω έτσι: Παπάδες, Δάσκαλοι,
ασπρομάλληδες, εργοδότες… Είμαστε οι
νέοι που μας σπείρατε με επιπολαιότητα…
Υποψιαστήκατε την παρουσία μας… δεν
αισθανθήκατε τον ερχομό μας;… Προβλήματα
πυρακτωμένα μας καίνε: ο πόλεμος, η πείνα,
η αδικία, … το επάγγελμά μας (το ψωμί μας),
η ψυχαγωγία μας,… ο έρωτας, η ζωή, το
χωριό… οι γροθιές μας σφίχτηκαν και
μετά από λίγο… θα είναι αργά…». (cf.
 Voiotike Floga, 30.12.1961 – No 1, p. 1).

It is most probable that this text does not in fact express the authentic “voice” (or «κραυγή») of Aliartian youth – it must, rather, be seen as an attempt on the part of the Editors of the paper to make their readers aware of how intense the youth problem really is. Still, at least what they write (as opposed to how) must be fairly accurate, based as it is on empirical – though not unbiased – observation. But if in this text the Editors were perhaps putting words in the mouths of youngsters, they would, in June 1962, be directly voicing their own thoughts on the burning issue – in an article entitled «Απολογία στα νειάτα» (and as part of that «Στήλη» already mentioned), they would be apologetic towards youth in general for the situation in which such youngsters were finding themselves in, and yet the paper would also at the same time go on and throw adjectives amounting to hubris right in the face of these new generations. This extreme hubristic discourse essentially degrading Greek youth as a whole must be seen as expressive of the intensity of the clash of “values” generally and of the young-old clash in particular. The «Απολογία», written by Argyris Ioannis («Καθηγητής Φυσικός»), and fully expressive of overall Editorial policy, would go as follows:

«Τελευταία, με τις εκδηλώσεις τεντυμποϊσμού,
το πράγμα έχει προσεχθή … από αρμόδιους και
μη … Η νομοθεσία αντέδρασε αρνητικά. Ο νόμος
4000 καταδικάζει τους παρεκτρεπομένους νέους
εις δημοσίαν διαπόμπευσιν και κατεξευτιλισμόν
με ποινικά επακόλουθα!... Με οργή και
αγανάκτησι “οι σοβαροί” άνθρωποι της κοινωνίας
χαρακτηρίζουν με τις πιο βαρειές φράσεις τους
νέους για τον κατήφορο που έχουν πάρει:
Άγριοι, εγωιστικοί, ατίθασοι, εξωφρενικοί,
απειθάρχητοι, ρέμπελοι, ανήθικοι, αυθάδεις,
αναίσχυντοι… Γιατί οι νέοι έφτασαν σε τέτοιο σημείο
 εκτροπής, που εγγίζει πολλάκις τα όρια της
 διαστροφής;… Γιατί δεν λειτουργούν οι ηθικές
 αντιστάσεις και η προσφερομένη αγωγή δεν
 αναχαιτίζει τις εκρήξεις των ενστίκτων τους;… Όταν
πρόσωπα της κοινωνίας … κρύβουν υποκρισία και
ψευτιά, τότε επόμενον είναι [for a youngster] να
πέση στην απογοήτευση, στον κυνισμό, στην
αναίδεια, ή την απελπισία…» (cf. Voiotike Floga, 26.6.1962,
No 7, p. 2, my emph.).

In the issue of  Voiotike Floga immediately following that of June 1962, the local paper would openly and directly relate that youthful behaviour «που εγγίζει … τα όρια της διαστροφής» to the element of “foreignness”. Now, unlike the monarchist Kanellakis, the Editors of  Voiotike Floga (K. Gelis and N. Kollias, who were both rather well-educated professionals, with the former also running a private school at Aliarto, while the latter was a medical doctor) were definitely for material and technological “progress” and would have rejected Kanellakis’ position as anachronistic ravings (their own political position amounting to something like a pro-“modernistic” “Right-wingness”). And yet, somewhat like the monarchist, they would reject at least certain socio-cultural “values” of the “West”, and especially as such “values” were being adopted by the Greek youth. How it was possible for “organic intellectuals” (educationalists/newsmen) such as Gelis and Kollias to combine both an acceptance of “Western” technology and a rejection of the socio-cultural practices related to such technology, is difficult – though not impossible – to fathom at a theoretical level. But what is of importance here is that such complex combinatories of ideological thinking were characteristic of the period, reflecting as they did the traumas of the transitional period we are examining. Put otherwise: the «γενική σύγχυση» that Petros Haris had spoken of had to be, and ultimately was, “ordered” by various ideological paradigms – the problem was that such “ordering” was done by different and conflicting paradigms (by the “Left”, the “Right”, the young “Amalia-type/s”, the peasants, etc.), and it could only but lead to a fusion of contradictions. Thus, the apparently contradictory paradigm of an organ such as  Voiotike Floga would clash – and it would be a tenacious clash – with the as apparently contradictory socio-cultural paradigms of Greek youth, and especially when such paradigms seemed to take on the more ‘extreme’ nuances of “foreignness”. The July 1962 issue of the local paper would carry an article by someone signing as ‘G. Kr.’ («Τελειόφοιτος Φιλολογίας»), and would unleash an attack which, within the confines of a semi-rural area such as Aliarto, would reveal the full proportions of the dramatic clash between the “old” and the “new” – entitled «Αναθεώρηση ή Δημιουργία – Για το Μεγάλο προσκλητήριο», part of it reads as follows:

«…Είναι πράγματι αξιοθρήνητη η κατάσταση.
Τα ερείπια του περασμένου πολέμου καπνίζουν
ακόμη. Υλικά, ερείπια χαρακτήρων και νεύρων,
πνευματικά ερείπια… Η φτώχεια και η μιζέρια
κρατάνε ακόμη τον σύγχρονο Έλληνα δούλο μιας
περιόδου παρακμής… Και οι νέοι μας;… Θλιβερή
η διαπίστωση μα όμως πραγματική. Πλήρης
αδιαφορία. Ένα πνεύμα υλιστικό κυριαρχεί. Είναι
ένας υλισμός όχι σαν του περασμένου αιώνα…
Είναι κάτι το παράδοξο. Οι νέοι μας με τίποτε δεν
ικανοποιούνται. Αυτό το αίσθημα της μη
 προσαρμογής και του ανικανοποιήτου οδηγεί
 στη συνεχή αλλαγή και τέλος στη δουλική
 μίμηση των ξένων… Τζαζ, περιπετειώδη φιλμς,
 ροκ ή τουίστ, πανσεξουαλισμός, tde dy [sic] boys
 (τέντυ μπόου [sic]) του Δυτικού Κόσμου, ή
hooligans Χούλιγκανς του Ανατολικού, να μια
 ξενική εικόνα, που επιγραμματικά μεταφέρεται
 σήμερα στα δικά μας πλαίσια…» (cf. Voiotike Floga,
22.7.1962, No 8, p. 2, my emph.).

 

By early 1963, the local paper would continue its attack on the life-style of youth, this time hitting out at those most popular of “cultural institutions” attracting young people at the time – i.e. their beloved «σφαιριστήρια» (billiard halls). Very much closely related to what is said above as to «εκτροπή» and «διαστροφή», as also about “Hooliganism” and “Teddy- boyism”, the paper would report the following in an article entitled «Σφαιριστήρια»:

«Από πολλού χρόνου λειτουργούν εις
Λεβάδειαν, Θήβαις και τώρα τελευταία
εις Αλίαρτον, Ορχομενόν, Αγ. Γεώργιον
και εις άλλα χωριά της Βοιωτίας σφαιριστήρια.
Οι ιδιοκτήται αγνοούντες την βλάβην που
προξενούν εις την εφηβικήν ψυχήν, δέχονται
εις τα σφαιριστήρια νέους εργαζομένους ή
μαθητάς κάτω της καθορισθείσης ηλικίας
υπό της Αστυνομίας… Εκτός όμως τούτου
ουδεμία επίβλεψις ή παρατήρησις γίνεται εις
εκτρεπομένους νέους, οι οποίοι υβρίζουν
και βλασφημούν. Ούτω τα σφαιριστήρια
από κέντρα ψυχαγωγίας γίνονται κέντρα
ψυχοφθόρα και αλητείας. Η Αστυνομία, οι
γονείς και οι εκπαιδευτικοί ιδία των Γυμνασίων
ας λάβουν τα μέτρα». (cf. Voiotike Floga, 24.2.1963,
Νο 13).

One may wish to argue that the line toed by Gelis and Kollias was simply or exclusively representative of the “conservative” “Right”: it is quite true that their  Voiotike Floga would often carry exhortations such as the following:

«Να δημιουργήσουμε ένα Νέο Ελληνικό
πολιτισμό βασισμένο στις παλιές αρχές του
ελληνοχριστιανικού πολιτισμού, που θα
αναδημιουργείται συνεχώς ανάλογα με τα
αιτήματα των καιρών…[etc.]» (cf. Voiotike Floga,
11.11.1962, Νο 9).

But whatever suggestion that it was only the “conservative” or “Right-wing” quarters that clashed with the “foreign-inclined” socio-cultural practices of the younger generations would, based on the empirical data available, be wide off the mark (and we may here remind ourselves of how “Left intellectuals” had looked down on the new ‘consumerist’ trends in general). Let us here, for instance, consider the case of the Thiva-based newspaper Allagi tis Voiotias [Αλλαγή της Βοιωτίας – Μηνιαία Προοδευτική Εφημερίς], also circulating in the 1960’s (established May 17, 1964). As suggested by the term «προοδευτική», etc., and as explicitly stated in its various Editorials, this paper was pro-ΕΔΑ (and therefore expressed views of both the communist and non-communist “Left”).

The June 14, 1964 issue of this paper would carry an article on the annual demonstrations organized by the Thiva Highschool for its summer closure (that same institution attended by Amalia Eleftheriadou at the time). It would report on the event as follows:

«Την 24ην Μαΐου [1964] ενώπιον των δημοτικών,
πολιτικών και στρατιωτικών Αρχών των Θηβών
ετελέσθησαν οι καθιερωμένες ετήσιες επιδείξεις
του Γυμνασίου Θηβών…». (cf. Allagi tis Voiotias,
14.6.1964, No 2, p. 2).

What was, for this “Left-wing” organ, the central most important newsworthy item about this event involving high school pupils? For it, what truly mattered was how those youngsters behaved in front of their seniors, and especially as such seniors constituted the official «Αρχές» of Thiva. The paper would write:

«Παρατηρήθηκε κάποια αταξία στην
διεξαγωγή των αγωνισμάτων…[etc.]»
(ibid., my emph.).

This might sound lukewarm criticism of youthful behaviour, especially if compared with the hubris thrown at youngsters by the Aliartian  Voiotike Floga. But in that selfsame issue of Allagi, the Editors would also publish an article which voiced its concerns about what it called the «Εκμαυλισμό της νεολαίας». Endorsing the views of a Mr. Kafetzopoulos, who was the then «Πρόεδρος Επαγγελματοβιοτεχνών Λειβαδείας», the paper would go on to enumerate the causes and symptoms of the crisis of a youth characterized by a certain «αταξία» – such causes/symptoms would include:

«Κινηματογραφικές ταινίες άθλιες,
πορνογραφήματα, κατάπτωσης
αθλητισμού κλπ.» (ibid., p. 4).

Proposals published in Allagi and meant to deal with the problem of youth could as well have been written by Gelis, Kollias and their own ideological cohorts – we read:

«… Κατάργησι των σφαιριστηρίων με τζούκ-μπόξ …
Αυστηρός έλεγχος στις εισαγόμενες
γκαγκστερικές ταινίες … Απαγόρευσιν ασέμνων
περιοδικών…» (ibid.).

The “Left-wing” clash with the new, “Western”-inspired socio-cultural practices of the young – and as already alluded to when examining the discourse of “intellectuals” above – basically came down to a feeling of “frustration” (on the part of the “Left”) as regards the overall orientation of the majority of young people. Voula Damianakou, who knew Giannis Ritsos personally (and who was of course the poet of the communist “Left”), describes the feelings of the poet towards the younger generations as follows:

«Έλπιζες, Ρίτσο αγαπημένε μας, κι όλοι
ελπίζαμε. Μα τα σημάδια τα δυσοίωνα
όλο πληθαίναν και σκιάζαν τις ελπίδες
μας. Πολύ και το φαινόμενο της νεολαίας
 σε απέλπιζε: Εδώ στην κατανάλωση εκεί
 να καταλιέται, στραβή πορεία στα στραβά…»
(cf. B. Damianakou, Τιμιότατο να ‘σαι
 Έλληνας – Να ’σαι ο Γιάννης Ρίτσος, Εκδόσεις
Επικαιρότητα, Oct. 1991, p. 24, my emph.).

The clash between the “new” and the “old”, between the “unethicality” of the young and the “propriety” of a Kanellakis, a Gelis, a Kollias or of the Editors of Allagi, would actually spill over and encompass other sectors of Greek society – as was quite inevitable, the socio-cultural practices of the younger generations would rub off and affect/influence other segments of society as well, thus generalizing the clash of “values” we have been describing. But what must sound absolutely paradoxical to the researcher of the period we are investigating, is that the so-called “unethicality” of the young would also be reproduced in sectors of society one would least expect – for instance, one would have thought that, in the early-1960’s, the Armed Forces (that bastion of so-called “conservative nationalism” meant to supposedly ‘guard’ Greek society from the corruptions of the day, and which also harboured the likes of a George Papadopoulos who was to very soon establish a dictatorial regime flourishing an ideology of presumably puritan ‘Greco-Orthodox’ ideals) would themselves not ever be ‘poisoned’ by the immoral «αταξίες» of the unruly youngsters. And yet, history writes its story in a manner befitting the sheer complexities of its various “forms of life”. Consider the following article, entitled «Οργασμός χορών», and which was published in 1963 in Voiotike Floga:

«Έγινε πλέον κανών και μόδα, αι ημέραι των
απόκρεω να γεμίζουν από χορούς… Το τι γίνεται
εις τους χορούς αυτούς, ακόμη και εις τους
πλέον καλώς ωργανωμένους και “πολιτισμένους”
μπορούν να πουν αυτοί που παρηκολούθησαν
τον διαλαληθέντα χορόν των Αξιωματικών του
Κ.Ε.Π. εις Θήβας. Περί του ίδιου “πολιτισμένου”
χορού μαρτυρούν και αι φωτογραφίαι αι οποίαι
ελήφθησαν και κυκλοφορούν… Ελπίζομεν ότι οι
αξιότιμοι οικογενειάρχαι και σύζυγοι θα οικτείρουν
εαυτούς, που προσήλθον εις τον χορόν αυτόν.
 Αλλά και οι Αξιωματικοί θα έχουν μετανοήση
 πικρά που άφησαν τον εαυτόν τους να παρασυρθή
 από το κατώτερο ρεύμα της κοινωνίας. Τώρα τι
γίνεται εις τους άλλους χορούς είναι υποτιμητικόν
όχι μόνον να το γράψη κανείς, αλλά και να το
φαντασθή» (cf, Voiotike Floga, 24.2.1963, Νο 13,
my emph.).

This ‘spilling over’ and the ‘rubbing off’ we have spoken of above is clearly indicated in the  Voiotike Floga article by the phrase «άφησαν τον εαυτόν να παρασυρθή» – that which had beguiled the Officers and led them astray were the ‘lower instincts’ and the ‘lower trends’ within Greek society, and – judging by the hubris used by the local papers in describing the life-style of youth – one can only but draw the conclusion that such ‘trends’ emanated from this particular social grouping.

We may therefore say that the likes of a Kanellakis the monarchist, of a Gelis/Kollias the “Right-wing pro-technology ethicalists”, as also the likes of the “Left-wing pro-socialist ethicalists” – all such clusters of people would, not only be hitting out at youth itself, but at whoever happened in some way or other or at some point in time to reproduce the ways of the young (i.e. they would be mercilessly attacking those who allowed themselves to be led astray by the ‘lower’ instincts and trends, such as the military Officers mentioned). But these clusters of “organic intellectuals” would of course go on to as mercilessly attack whoever remained (apparently) “indifferent” to what was happening around them. Now, such “indifference” – and we need emphasize that such a stance was only apparently “indifferent”, hiding as it did within it both a fear of and an attraction to the new challenges opening up – could actually be said to include great masses of people mainly residing in rural or semi-rural areas such as Aliarto. It would be such people – on average middle-aged and over – whom the local Aliartian newspaper would stigmatize. In July 1962, it would carry an article entitled «Να λείψουν οι στενοκέφαλοι», and part of which went as follows:

«Οι άνθρωποι που καταδικάζουν την επαρχίαν
μας εις την αμάθειαν, την αφάνειαν, το σκότος
& τον μαρασμό… Έχομεν υπ’ όψιν μας πολλά
χωριά, τα οποία θα είχαν ανακαινισθεί ήδη, εάν
δεν υπήρχαν οι ολίγοι εκείνοι άνθρωποι, τα
καθυστερημένα εκείνα μυαλά, τα γεμάτα από
πείσμα και εγωισμό, οι οποίοι είναι οι
“πολύξεροι” και οι “διανοούμενοι” του χωριού
ή της πόλεως … Οι άνθρωποι που εμαθήτευσαν
εις την ταβέρνα ή τα καφενεία του χωριού, τα
μοναδικά δι’ αυτούς σχολεία, από τα οποία
έμαθαν να είναι άσσοι εις την πρέφαν και το
κουτσομπολιό, μοναδικοί εις το άδειασμα των
βαρελιών και το κάπνισμα των αργιλέδων …
Αλλά είναι απορίας άξιον πώς ανέχονται οι άλλοι
και υπολογίζουν τις γνώμες τέτοιων ανθρώπων».
(cf. Voiotike Floga, 22.7.1962, No 8).

And yet, such “indifferent” people – what we might call the 1960’s “traditional” coffee-shop/taverna regulars – actually represented the vast majority of the older male generations. While spending many hours working in the fields or at a Mill such as that of A&M, and while spending perhaps as many hours in the coffee-shops and their tavernas, they would ultimately have to return to their homes. And what was it they found therein? What faced them there was the central arena of socio-cultural struggle at the time – i.e. the ever-rising doubt/rejection of their authority as “Patriarchs” by the young “Amalia-type”, as also by the young male “Damokas-type”. As we have elsewhere shown in this series of papers discussing the socio-cultural ‘milieu’ of the 1950’s-1970’s, the Greek Family Unit was beginning to be fairly seriously ‘rocked’, and especially given the up-and-coming ‘sexual revolution’. At least until such time as the consumerist behaviour of an Amalia and that of her parents would converge, meet and supplement one another, the clash between the so-called “indifferent” coffee-shop regulars-cum-parents and their offspring would be intense, though such intensity could vary much depending on circumstances.

In a very important sense, then, the conflicts of the period were centered, not merely around the polemics of a Kanellakis or of a  Voiotike Floga – in fact, the real conflicts were above all most concentrated around the everyday lives of those apparently “indifferent” parents, and as such parents had to confront the new socio-cultural practices of youngsters right inside their own house (cf., for instance, an article published in a 1965 daily newspaper [the clipping does not allow us to identify the name of the paper] which describes a violent clash between father and daughter over the latter’s insistence on listening to “twist songs” – «Η κόρη ήθελε τουίστ αλλά έμεινε χωρίς μαλλιά – Ο δράστης – κουρεύς μπαμπάς απηλλάγη»). Now, as such new practices were transferred inside a home, the “Patriarchal” father (but the mother in her own way as well) would see his own “authority” fading – and thus, like Kanellakis, Gelis, Kollias and the Editors of Allagi, he too would also wish to see his kids “disciplined” by “Authorities” outside his home, be these the School directly, the Church indirectly, or even the Police if need be. Seeing his own “Patriarchal authority” waning, in other words, he would turn to organs of the State (“private” or “public”) to maintain order within this clash of “values”. And thus, were the coffee-shop regular to have read  Voiotike Floga while sipping his coffee, he would certainly have agreed with either the disciplinary injunctions meant to bring youth back to order or with whatever initiatives meant to tame the ‘wilder instincts’ of an Amalia Eleftheriadou or a Vasilis Damokas. And despite what the Editors of such local papers themselves thought, the coffee-shop regular was in fact an avid reader of newspapers right within the coffee-shop: it is a fact that most coffee-shops in villages near Thiva or Levadia had a special table in some corner piled with newspapers and these would be shared amongst regulars.

All of the older generations, faced with the ‘youth problem’, would have quite agreed with the following article published in  Voiotike Floga towards the end of 1962, and tellingly entitled «Η μεγάλη ευθύνη»:

«… Διότι ποίοι ποτέ ηθέλησαν να έλθουν αρωγοί
εις την επίλυσιν των τόσων προβλημάτων που
αντιμετωπίζουν οι νέοι μας; Των σχολικών, των
σεξουαλικών, της ηθικής, της μελλοντικής
επαγγελματικής αποκαταστάσεως και των τόσων
άλλων που σχετίζονται με τας συνθήκας της
οικογενειακής, της κοινωνικής ζωής και του εν
γένει περιβάλλοντος; … Kάτι θέλησε να προσφέρη
η εκκλησία και αι διάφοραι χριστιανικαί κινήσεις,
με τα Κατηχητικά Σχολεία, τας Χριστιανικάς
Μαθητικάς Ομάδας, τας Κατασκηνώσεις, αλλά τα
αποτελέσματά των δεν ήταν ικανοποιητικά, εξαιτίας
της προκαταλήψεως πολλών της μη δυνατότητος
των εν λόγω προσπαθειών … Αι ιδιωτικαί πρωτοβουλίαι
έχουν εκλείψει…». (cf. Voiotike Floga, 11.11.1962, No 9).

We assume that extreme measures taken by the central State to fight the “Teddy-boy” phenomenon – such as ‘Law 4000’ of the 1960’s mentioned above – would not necessarily have met with the approval of the “average parent” (bar extreme cases, that is). Writing prior to the enactment of such law, in 1959, Varikas (op. cit., p. 192), would perhaps have expressed that more compromising stance of the “average” Greek parent when he would write:

«…θα αδικούσαμε πολύ τα σύγχρονα νιάτα,
αν δεν θέλαμε να δούμε σ’ αυτά παρά μόνο
τις εκδηλώσεις του “τεντυμποϋσμού”, του
αμοραλισμού και της τυφλής ικανοποίησης
των ενστίκτων».

Yet still, parents would have expected the school (especially) to have taken over the role of a “disciplining” mechanism (and which would also imbibe in their children some kind of Greek version of the “work ethic”, which was itself, by the way, to willy-nilly prepare kids as successful consumers). Thus, when Gelis wanted to advertise his own private school (through the pages of his Voiotike Floga) to those “indifferent” compatriots of his, he would really know what it was that they wanted to hear – his 1962 advertisement would go as follows:

«ΙΔΙΩΤΙΚΟΝ ΓΥΜΝΑΣΙΟΝ
Κ. ΓΚΕΛΙ
ΕΝ ΑΛΙΑΡΤΩ –
 Η εργατικότης, η αυστηρότης, η παρακολούθησις,
 η τακτική επικοινωνία με τους γονείς,
 το άνετο περιβάλλον κ.λ.π. είναι από τα μέσα,
πού διαθέτει το Γυμνάσιόν μας …» (cf. Voiotike Floga,
26.6.1962, No 7, p. 2, their emph.).

The question of work-discipline («εργατικότης») and of severity («αυστηρότης») would be widely accepted “values” amongst the older generations. Thus, when the Local Authorities of the region would organize «Γυμναστικαί επιδείξεις» amongst high schools in 1962, the purpose of such activities – according to the  Voiotike Floga – would be defined as follows:

«…ο εθισμός των μαθητών εις την
συστηματικήν και πειθαρχημένην εργατικότητα»
(ibid.).

All social institutions at the time would try to somehow ‘tame’ what then seemed to be wild, ferocious ‘instincts’ heralding from a ‘Wild West’ unheard of in pre-war Greece – but as Varikas was trying to point out, the drives of Greek youth were not just that, and gradually the old would be ‘meeting’ the young in the terrain of consumption and in at least some of the socio-cultural trends projected by the advertizing sector. Such sector had no choice but to take into account the realities we have been describing, and it would do so especially in the course of the seven-year Military Dictatorship. The practices of the latter would be highly contradictory: while it would have no choice but to allow the deluge of new socio-cultural patterns to enter Greek society, it would still insist on ‘taming’ the youthful ‘Wild West’ (and would do so most probably because it was rather scared of it). Thus, and according to a June 1967 issue of yet another Thiva newspaper – I Foni ton Thivon [Η Φωνή των Θηβών] – the regime would try to make use of both the Church and the School in a desperate attempt to hold back the socio-cultural tide that was already on its way – we read:

«Το Υπουργείον Παιδείας δι’ εγκυκλίου προς
τους επιθεωρητάς Στοιχ. Εκπ/σεως εντέλλεται
όπως οι μαθηταί των δημοτικών σχολείων
εκκλησιάζωνται κατά Κυριακήν» (cf. I Foni ton Thivon, 5.6.1967, No 554).

Such cultural clashes as we are describing, we should not forget, were taking place in material conditions of a widespread poverty (cf. Koeppen above), and especially as regards the very early-1960’s. It is surely a major paradox of such period that, while youngsters were beginning to experiment with new cultural trends, this experimentation would go hand-in-hand with the struggles of parents to actually feed their children – and this would, again, further add to the psychic confusion and characterize the turbulent transitionality of such period.

To give us some picture of the scale of such poverty, and especially as that plagued the “periphery”, we may consider the following extract taken from a 1962 article in  Voiotike Floga:

«Τα νειάτα της υπαίθρου κυνηγημένα από
την ανεργία εγκαταλείπουν την πατρική γη
και φεύγουν… Φεύγουν για τις μεγάλες πόλεις.
Φεύγουν για τις ξένες χώρες. Ποίο άραγε είναι
το μέλλον του ερημουμένου τούτου τόπου;»
(cf. Voiotike Floga , 22.7.1962, No 8).

The Aliartian barber we have elsewhere referred to in this research project is himself an excellent example of such migratory trends caused above all by poverty. We may summarize his own sojourn in life as follows:

  • Born in 1926 in Domvraina, a village of Thiva. He would begin working from a very early age – first as a vendor of food products around the nearby villages (he would use a donkey for this), and then as a trainee barber;
  • He would move to Thiva so as to train as a car mechanic;
  • He would return to his village and establish his own barber-shop (with a partner);
  • He would then move to a suburb of Piraeus and again establish a barber-shop;
  • He would move back to Domvraina and again establish a barber-shop – the cut-throat competition between barber-shops in his village, and the fact that he would get married and have children, would bring him to near-bankruptcy;
  • By the very early-1960’s, he would make his move to Aliarto and again establish his own barber-shop. He would try to supplement his income by also working as a sales representative (would sell fridges to various tavernas, etc. around the villages of Thiva and Levadia); It would be in this period of his life when he would, for the very first time (by now in his 30’s), begin to make his first timid steps as a “consumer” – e.g. he would buy a radio for his family, “modern” clothes for his wife and kids. Still, such “consumerism” would be fairly restricted by the tight family budget;
  • He would move to a suburb of Athens and would work as a wage-earning barber for a barber-shop at Omonoia; he would combine this by also working night-shifts as a supervisor of female workers in a smallish clothes manufacturing company;
  • Frustrated with his economic plight – he had still not managed to buy a fridge for his family – he would, by August 1963, leave for South Africa. There, he would first work as a wage-earning barber for an Italian and soon establish his own barber-shop.
  • It would only be by the early-1980’s that he would return to Athens and establish his own – and final – barber-shop in the city.
  • He would finally retire in Domvraina and be buried there in 2012.

Here we have ‘ten easy steps’ for an “average Greek” belonging to the popular masses at the time to be able to finally declare himself a “consumer” (and house-owner). This man, like thousands of others, had chosen his “exodus”. For those who remained behind, material conditions in the early 1960’s remained tough – the same July 1962 issue of  Voiotike Floga referred to above would also publish an article entitled «Σκελετωμένα παιδιά» – it went as follows:

«Αν κανείς παρηκολούθησε τας γυμναστικάς
επιδείξεις ή τους περιφερειακούς αγώνας … [θα]
παρετήρησε … με λύπην ότι τα … ελληνόπουλα
διέθεταν κατά το πλείστον σώματα αδύνατα και
σκελετωμένα. Δεν χρειάζεται βέβαια να πούμε
ότι αυτά τα παιδιά είναι το μέλλον της φυλής
μας, η ελπίς της αύριον κ.λ.π. κ.λ.π… Η φυλή
δεν μεγαλουργεί με καχεκτικά και σκελετωμένα
κορμιά… Οι Αρμόδιοι και οι κατά τόπους
εκπαιδευτικοί ας οργανώσουν εκστρατείαν δια
την καταπολέμησιν της πείνας και του
υποσιτισμού εις την επαρχίαν μας. Οι Γονείς ας
φροντίσουν όσο μπορούν περισσότερον την
υγείαν των παιδιών των… Μόνον έτσι θα
μπορέσουμε να παρακολουθούμε επιδείξεις δια
να ευχαριστούμεθα… Άλλως θα μας θυμίζουν το
τρομερόν χειμώνα 1941-42» (ibid.).

Now, while the ex-Aliartian barber would be slaving away with his pair of scissors somewhere in Johannesburg, those «σκελετωμένα παιδιά» would soon be able to drink their proper dosages of milk and, as soon –  say by 1968 – even be able to “drink brand-names” (as in any case Erich Fromm would wish us to see it) such as Coca-Cola. We know that Greece was having its first (and only) “industrial revolution”, and both young and old would see this and many members of both age-groups would find a common (though still culturally contradictory) ground as regards the question of working hard so as to earn money and enter the age of consumption – the “Amalia-type” and her brother would belong to this category of youth. The «σκελετωμένα παιδιά» would soon be consuming enough milk and meat so as to grow robust and be ready for the “new age”. According to the 1972 “Statistical Yearbook Of Greece” and based on the selected series of world statistics it also includes, the per capita increase in the consumption of milk and meat amongst Greeks would be as follows (in grams per day):

MEAT        MILK
1960-62              72              344
1963-65              92              387
1967                   111             448
(cf. p. 382)

Or, in terms of consumer price indices for Greece, and with specific reference to food up until 1970, the Yearbook provides us with the following picture (in annual averages):

1965 – 105
1966 – 112
1967 – 112
1968 – 112
1969 – 116
1970 – 120
(cf. p. 381)

Parents at the time acquired an almost religious devotion to their mission of feeding their children – their war-time experiences, especially that «τρομερόν χειμώνα» of 1941-2, would drive them to an almost psychotic obsession with the amount of food their kids consumed. One representative example of advertizing which circulated in 1961, and which placed the child and its eating at centre-stage, ran as follows:

«Με ΜΙΑ δραχμή ΔΥΟ γεύματα…
ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΟΝ ΤΩΝ ΠΑΙΔΩΝ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ…
Με προϊόντα ΓΙΩΤΗ…»
(cf. Kathimerini, 23.5.1961).

This advertisement, to which we shall have to return below, does a number of things – inter alia, it ‘plays’ with the rubric “Kingdom of Greece”, suggesting as it does that such “Kingdom” now belongs to the young – and, further, that this up-and-coming new generation had to have its calories and proteins (the most popular «ΓΙΩΤΗ» product being, of course, milk).

Gradually, it would not be merely food that had to be provided to the Greek child – especially as the latter became a teenager, parents would work hard to provide their offspring with clothes and whatever other artifacts would come to constitute the new “consumerist” model. In some sense, the socio-cultural conflicts which truly ‘rocked’ the Greek Family Unit would almost inevitably yield practices within such Unit which aimed at maintaining ‘balances’ between parents and offspring through a series of ‘compromises’ – one can imagine, for instance, the parents of Amalia allowing their daughter, while still at high school, to go to Levadia and treat herself to a new dress. And this would itself initiate the parents themselves to new consumer patterns. As the years went by in the 1960’s, the “average Greek” would be able to do that – even Konstandinos Tsoukalas, in his otherwise bad little book ‘analysing’ events which led to the regime of 21st April, would have no choice but to admit:

«Μη ξεχνάμε ότι το σημερινό καθεστώς
[i.e. the 1967 Military Dictatorship] έδρεψε
τους καρπούς μιας δεκαπενταετούς
απρόσκοπτης οικονομικής ανάπτυξης της
οποίας οι αντανακλάσεις στο επίπεδο ζωής
των καταπιεζομένων τάξεων δεν έγιναν
εμφανείς παρά στις αρχές του 1960»
(cf. Η Ελληνική Τραγωδία [The Greek Tragedy], Εκδόσεις
Ολκός, 1974, p. xii).

We shall end these notes on the historical context covering the 1950’s-1960’s period by a recapitulation of the basic thrust of our argumentation, clarify possible ambiguities, and relate all such to the advertizing discourse that would ensue.

All too often, we have emphasized the conflict between the “old” and the “new”, and this with special reference to the socio-cultural practices that such “old” and “new” carried. We have tried to show how such conflict would yield a socio-cultural “confusion” amongst the Greek people. And we have suggested that this would create the need for such generalized “confusion” to be ideologically “ordered” by the “organic intellectuals” of the day. However, and given the specific historical circumstances, we would have a variety of conflicting paradigms trying to establish some sort of “order” within such “confusion”. Such conflicting paradigms would, on the one hand, yield the “tired person” of the early 1960’s – we believe that the  Voiotike Floga was quite accurate in its description of the early-1960’s Greek as «τον αναμένοντα κουρασμένον σημερινόν άνθρωπον» (cf. Voiotike Floga, 30.12.1961, No 1, p. 1, my emph.). On the other hand, it would yield extremities such as that of the “Teddy-boy” phenomenon amongst Greek youth. The older generations were “tired” because of the conflicting paradigms in a context of poverty; the younger generations were “angry” because all such paradigms, whatever their ideological orientation, were essentially hostile to their new-found socio-cultural practices and especially as regards the question of sex (in 1970, Panselinos would note: «… την ώρα που γράφονται τούτα … συντελιέται μια ηθική επανάσταση της νεολαίας που έχει κιόλας συντρίψει τα βάθρα της ερωτικής δεισιδαιμονίας» – cf. op. cit., p. 205).

As we have seen above, the “Kanellakis-type paradigm” (against the new technology and with heavy dosages of “traditional ethicalism”) would clash with the “Gelis/Kollias-type paradigm” (for the new technology but still also with heavy elements of “traditional ethicalism”). Both of these “Right-wing”-inspired paradigms would clash with the “Allagi-type paradigm” (which, being “Left-wing”-inspired, would only accept technology within a socialist context and would also adopt an “ethicalist” position against the corruptions of the Western style of life, the “consumerism” of which it saw as a disorientation from political struggle). And all three of these paradigms would clash with the “indifferent” coffee-shop regulars, precisely because they showed an apparent “indifference” towards matters of technology, ethics, nationalism and socialism. But, in actual truth, these coffee-shop regulars and hard-working drunkards, together with their wives, would clash with their sons and daughters, noticing as they would that their offspring would be gradually demolishing the foundations of “traditional” “sexual prejudices” or concomitant “superstitions” (Panselinos).

Facing both Kanellakis, and Gelis/Kollias, and those who struggled for a “socialist ΑΛΛΑΓΗ”, and also facing the “Patriarchal Family Unit”, there would be the up-and-coming young “Amalia-type”. The latter, together with friends and/or possible sexual partners such as the “Vasilis Damokas-type”, would sense this fusion of contradictions – they would live it directly and feel it deep inside their very guts. The “Amalia+Vasilis-type” would itself be deeply-rooted in “Greekness”, given the socio-cultural formation within which it had been raised – but it would come to articulate such “Greekness” with its pro-“Western” socio-cultural “values”, with its love for the new technology of the time, etc. (and all of which would of course be subsumed within a new “consumerist” behaviour).

It would be this “New Identity” which, as it experienced this fusion of contradictions we have referred to, would ultimately come to gradually defuse the situation, and this process of defusion would have as its basic form precisely the socio-cultural/sexual revolution of youth. The “values” of this veritable revolution would, in the long run, ultimately become dominant throughout society, at least by the early 1980’s (we say ‘dominant’, which by implication suggests that such “values” would continue co-existing with the more ‘residual’ secondary cultural systems and sub-systems). But much of that “New Identity” – and that “New Type” of person – which was raising its head, being dominant, would ultimately also come to be adopted by many sections of the older generations: “modernism”, as a socio-cultural practice, would permeate the whole of society. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the spearhead of this defusing revolution would, amongst females, have been the young “Amalia-type”.

Now, if, as we have suggested, the 1950’s-1960’s period was essentially transitional, we need also emphasize that the “Amalia-type” was also as transitional a type. Amalia Eleftheriadou, like all the younger employees at the A&M Mill, had been raised in a family which carried intense memories of the recent war and her parents were themselves children of the rural, traditional style of life. Her own boss at the Mill, Marakis, was himself a man with a military past and consistently adopted stern “traditionalist/ethicalist” practices even in the running of his company. And Amalia herself, as a young female employee whose income was, in the 1960’s/early 1970’s, still determined by the Greek sexual division of labour (and the low remuneration that went with it – cf. our papers on Greek women workers generally and Mill female employees in particular in the 1960’s/1970’s period), would continue to hover between the need to survive and the wish to spend some of her earnings on “luxury” products. And finally, Amalia in the 1960’s was only just beginning to be exposed to whatever foreign “values”. All such biographical data allow us to conclude that this “New Type” of person that Amalia represented was definitely “new”, but surely only in a relative sense – we may thus go further and suggest that the “Amalia-type”, being only relatively “new” as a type, was itself a new balance of contradictions: while carrying the “old” in her, Amalia was bent on “modernizing” her life, and in that she was the spearhead of her time. It was precisely to this new balance of contradictions – to this relatively, and therefore internally contradictory, “New Type” of Greek female – that the advertizing industry would have to talk to, and do so convincingly. The new contradictions of the “Amalia-type” would have to be somehow reflected in the discourse of advertizing-as-a-Whole. (Need we say, of course, that since the advertizing industry would also have needed to target the older generations as well, the strategies of its discourse had to steer along lines which were doubly compounded in terms of complexity.)

We may now further suggest that this overall movement from the “confusion” of the period to the rise of the “Amalia-New-Type” signaled the rise of the Greek middle class milieu – the Greek version of the post-war “Golden Age” would determine such movement and throw whatever so-called “anachronistic” flotsam (and also whatever dogmatic understandings of ‘class struggle’) overboard. It is impossible to understand the discourse of advertizing in Greece unless one further considers such new middle class milieu.

GLOSSARY:

NOTES:
● «ΑΛΛΑΓΗ»: “CHANGE”.
● «Αναθεώρηση ή Δημιουργία – Για το Μεγάλο προσκλητήριο»: “Revision or Creation – For the Great call/bidding”.
● «ανάρια φώτα»: dim lights
● «Απολογία στα νειάτα»: “An apology/apologia to youth”.
● «Αρχές»: the authorities
● «αταξία»: disorder
● «άφησαν τον εαυτόν να παρασυρθή»: let themselves be led astray
● «γενική σύγχυση»: generalized confusion, perplexity, bewilderment
● «Γυμναστικαί επιδείξεις»: “Gymnastic demonstrations”.
● «Εκμαυλισμός της νεολαίας»: “The corruption of youth”.
● «εκτροπή»; «διαστροφή»: deviation; perversion
● «Η κόρη ήθελε τουίστ αλλά έμεινε χωρίς μαλλιά – Ο δράστης-κουρεύς μπαμπάς απηλλάγη»: “The daughter wanted to dance the twist but was left without hair – the perpetrator-barber dad is acquitted”.
● «Η κραυγή του Αλέκου»: “Alekos’ scream”.
● «Η μεγάλη ευθύνη»: “The great responsibility”.
● «Καθηγητής Φυσικός»: physics teacher
● «με δυσκολεύει»: it bothers/disturbs me; it is giving me a hard time
● «μυστικιστικό»: mystical
● «Να λείψουν οι στενοκέφαλοι»: “There is no room for the narrow-minded” (free translation).
● «Οργασμός χορών»: “Dancing orgasm”, or “An orgasm of dances”.
● «πιο βαθιά»: deeper
● «που εγγίζει… τα όρια της διαστροφής»: which verges on perversion
● «προβλήματα, που έχουν γίνει πύρινοι κύκλοι…»: problems, which have become fiery circles (in the sense of vicious and fierce)
● «Πρόεδρος Επαγγελματοβιοτεχνών Λειβαδείας»: Chairman of the Levadia professional classes, craftsmen and merchants
● «προοδευτική»: progressive
● «ρεκλάμες πολύχρωμες»: multicoloured advertisements
● «Σκελετωμένα παιδιά»: “Emaciated children”.
● «σταυροδρόμι του αέρα»: a wind-blown junction/crossroads (free translation)
● «Στήλη των νέων»: “Youth column”.
● «Τελειόφοιτος Φιλολογίας»: philology graduate
● «τέχνη πολύτροπη»: multimodal art
● «τι είναι αυτός ο “δυτικός κόσμος”, τι αξίζει… έπειτ’ από τόσες ριζικές μεταβολές, τι μπορεί να προσφέρει στο μεταπολεμικό άτομο…;»: what is this “western world”, what be its merit… following so many radical changes, what can it offer to the post-war individual…?
● «Τιμιότατο να ‘σαι Ελληνας – Να ‘σαι ο Γιάννης Ρίτσος»: “It is most honourable to be a Greek – To be Giannis Ritsos”.
● «το σχήμα της ρευστής εποχής μας»: the form of our volatile era
● «τον αναμένοντα κουρασμένον σημερινόν άνθρωπον»: the anticipative, tired person of the early-1960’s (free translation)
● «τρομερόν χειμώνα»: terrible winter
● «ψυχή»: spirit

THE NEW TYPE: EMERGENCE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS MILIEU

The clash between the “residual” and the “modern” which we have described above was inevitable, and it was so determined by the specific circumstances of the period. Thus, when we speak of “residual” and “modern”, we do not in whatever way mean to “value” either of these as either “bad” or “good”. Both expressed their own logic and cohesion, both were “carried” by historical subjects for objective, historical reasons. And if there was any element of the ‘irrational’ in what was “carried”, it could have applied to both “old” and “new”. Further, even elements of so-called ‘irrational behaviour’ can be shown to be functional in relation to the social environment within which they operate – it is in this sense that we would fully reject the Pareto sociological model referred to above.

Now, this clash was – for the period we are discussing – the dominant contradiction within the Greek social formation, cutting across and permeating social strata in ways which by-passed any simple Capital-Labour contradiction (Greece, in any case, was characterized by a complex combination of modes of production). And we say that such clash was dominant because, as we look back in history, we realize that it was this socio-cultural clash that would most determine the form of social stratification in modern-day Greece. It would, as it progressed, yield the middle class milieu: we speak of ‘milieu’ because middle class “values” and the middle class style of life would become dominant as an ideology (not in the narrow political sense) for all social strata of the popular masses, whether these worked in a small factory such as A&M, in a large clothes manufacturing plant such as the Thiva-based Dourida factory, or simply ran their own entrepreneurial operations (as did the ex-Maraki worker, Zigoyiannis, who would, at some point in time, shuttle workers to the Dourida factory with his private bus service). Again, that this clash was to yield such a milieu is not to be evaluated as either “good” or “bad” – it yielded a “form of life” which demands that it be examined in absolute objectivity.

This dominant clash, we are saying, did not happen in a social void, permeating as it did all social strata. But although it was to yield a dominant middle class milieu, it would – at first – affect different social strata in specific ways: it could only but have been received by different social strata in their own specific ways, and that obviously given their different social circumstances. The young “Amalia-type” could not possibly have received an advertisement – and undertaken the possible consumption that went with it – in the way that a daughter of her boss Maraki, would.

At first, from the 1950’s and up to the early-1970’s, the most intense form of the clash was located within the old-young interface (though the form of such interface varied according to the social stratum concerned). Such intensity would take a very specific form in the case of the young “Amalia-type” – that “type”, amongst females, would spearhead either the rise of middle class “values” amongst working people, or would be the progenitor to the rise and spread of the new Greek middle classes as such (shop-keepers, freelance professionals, etc.). Whether wage-labourers or freelancers, all would ultimately adopt – or truly wish to adopt – styles of the European or American middle classes. But, at the same time, these popular masses would combine such taste with their “Greekness” (in varying degrees of intensity): at least for the period we are discussing, the new “Amalia-type” carried the old-new and/or “traditional”-“foreign” clashes deep within itself, if only because such “type” had grown up within such on-going clashes. This, we are suggesting, would make of Amalia a historically “New Type”, albeit only relatively speaking. By the 1980’s, this “New Type” would become so powerful that it would directly assert its presence within Greek State structures – its consumerism went hand-in-hand with such power. By then, advertizing would even glorify such power (it had no choice but do so).

Such “New Type” is neither a figment of our imagination and nor is it our own historical ‘discovery’. The emergence of such “New Type” – and its emergence precisely given that socio-cultural clash we have been describing – had been noted as early as 1957 by I.M. Panagiotopoulos (but who, as we have mentioned above in discussing Greek “intellectuals”, would himself join the 1970’s “Left” bandwagon and, ignoring the new realities, would simplistically reduce the phenomenon of advertizing to manipulative propaganda). In July 1957, in an article entitled «Οι σύγχρονοι κοινοί τόποι» and published in Nea Hestia  (No 720, op. cit., pp. 900-902), he would in fact be much struck by the emerging new realities, by the “residual” vs. “modern” clash, and would draw his conclusions as to what was happening to the post-war Greek “type” of person. In this extremely important text – to be later ignored by both himself and others – he would write:

«Η ζωή μας έχει καταντήσει μια σειρά απροσδόκητα.
Πώς να κερδίσει κανείς τον κατάλληλο προσανατολισμό,
όταν τα περιστατικά παρουσιάζονται αντιμαχόμενα
κάθε οργανωμένη συνείδηση; Αυτό είναι το πρόβλημα.
Όσο παλιώνουμε, ολοένα και μεγαλύτερο δείχνεται
το ρήγμα, που μας χωρίζει από τους μεταγενέστερους.
Πρόκειται για βαθύτατες διαδοχικές τομές … Ίσως ποτέ
 δεν ήταν οξύτερη η διαμάχη ανάμεσα σε κείνο που
 αντιπροσωπεύει η παράδοση και σε κείνο που
 διατυπώνει τ’ αναγκαία νέα αιτήματα. Υπάρχει λοιπόν
 κ’ εδώ ένα απροσδόκητο… Ας συνομολογήσουμε, πως
 αυτός ο αιώνας δημιουργεί ένα νέο ανθρώπινο τύπο»
(my emph.).

It is within this historical framework, delineated by Panagiotopoulos in 1957, that the “Amalia-type” must be understood – and it is the transitional instabilities (those «διαδοχικές τομές») which would be reflected in advertizing discourse itself.

We have said that there would be a radical shift in the thinking of Panagiotopoulos by the 1970’s – and yet, all he would really be doing by 1977 is to still accept the existence of the «νέο ανθρώπινο τύπο» but this time he would simply feel sorry for it. Adopting an ahistorically static position as to what people ‘should’ be like – and forgetting the objective «ρήγμα» which he had seen occurring – he would see in such “New Type” a “loss of self”, bent as it was on continually renewing its various material means. In 1977 (cf. Ο σύγχρονος άνθρωπος, op. cit., pp. 70-71), he would write:

«Έτσι, θύμα αυτής της μηχανορραφίας, ο άνθρωπος
της εποχής είναι υποχρεωμένος, ακόμη και για τη
διάσωση της ατομικής του αξιοπρέπειας, ν’ ανανεώνει
τα ατομικά μέσα της μεταφοράς του, τα έπιπλά του,
τα σκεύη του, ν’ αλλάζει τρόπο ζωής, να γίνεται άλλος
Η μέριμνα για τη συνεχή απόκτηση υλικών αγαθών,
κεντριζόμενη από την εμπορική διαφήμιση,
κατακαλύπτει το χώρο του εσωτερικού βίου…»
(my emph.).

For the “Amalia-type”, as also for very many Aliartian residents in the 1960’s, this need to “renew” furniture, etc. (which was not at first continual), did mean “becoming someone else” and preserving “self-respect”, but not at all in the way Panagiotopoulos would mean it in 1977. As has already been alluded to above, Aliartian residents did “renew” their furniture by getting rid of the tree-trunks on which they had to sit and start buying manufactured chairs. Likewise, they would gradually “renew” their pieces of newspaper which they used in the toilet and start buying toilet paper (shall come back to the crucial issue of hygiene). Thus, this process of «να γίνεται άλλος», gradually yielding that «νέο ανθρώπινο τύπο», was a historical reality – that “type” which would emerge was not a victim of imaginary prototypes manipulatively engineered by advertizing companies. Such “New Type” was not suffering a “loss of self” – it was discovering a new one.

But examining Panagiotopoulos’ 1977 text a bit closer allows us to go further – he speaks of a «συνεχή απόκτηση υλικών αγαθών» and, while this would not have applied to the “Amalia-type” in the very early-1960’s, it certainly would have applied by, say, 1968. What does this reality tell us? It tells us that the “Amalia-type” was gradually not merely surpassing past poverty – such “type” was also gradually accumulating (and/or renewing) its material means and goods, and this would have meant a gradual change in life-style and “worldview”. This “worldview” was that of the emerging Greek middle classes. It is true to say that such “continual renewal” may have been a mere wish for many people of the popular masses – but such a dream was to adopt the style of life of the middle classes, and certainly not of some “proletarian culture”. In fact such latter “culture” had never existedin Greece in any significant way, as it had in England – for instance – and as that has been described by E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (Penguin Books, 1991, first published in 1963). And it would be an outright mistake to confuse the widespread “lumpen culture” in Greece at the time we are examining, as also in the pre-war years, with the “proletarian” tradition – cf. our paper on the “Mathioudaki Case”, but especially the excellent Τα παιδιά της πιάτσας [Streetwise Characters] by N. Tsiforos (Ερμής, Αθήνα, 1991).

The fact that the “Amalia-type” was the progenitor to the middle class milieu is absolutely crucial in helping us to understand how that “type” would relate to the world of advertizing – we shall therefore have to dwell on the extent to which that “New Type” we have been referring to could in fact have expressed middle class “values” – i.e. the extent to which changing material conditions would allow it to adopt such “values”.

With reference to the years immediately following World War II, and speaking of the whole of Europe (with Greece included), the periodical Paragogikotis [Παραγωγικότης] would point out that the generalized poverty and the crisis in the retail trade would allow for the actual exploitation of consumers (in Greece during the war years especially, we also had strong currents of black market racketeering). Such conditions of exploitation obviously stifled whatever consumer power and consumer consciousness, and by implication were not conducive to the rise of any middle class “values”. In 1956, the periodical would note:

«… η γενική ένδεια, η οποία επεκράτει εις το
λιανικόν εμπόριον, είχε νεκρώσει τον συναγωνισμόν
και είχεν επιτρέψει κατά κάποιον τρόπον την
εκμετάλλευσιν του καταναλωτού, ο οποίος ήτο
υποχρεωμένος, κατά την διάρκειαν των χρόνων
αυτών, να αγοράζη ό,τι ηδύνατο να εύρη»
(cf. Paragogikotis, No 13 –
Athens – June-August, 1956, p. 26).

Such generalized poverty in Greece, directly evident to Koeppen in 1961 (op. cit.), was – and as suggested above – a transitional phenomenon. In fact, we notice such transitionality as we observe Greece through the eyes of Koeppen himself – on the one hand, he could write:

«Όχι πλούτος, φτώχεια!... Και ελεεινά τα αγόρια
που στέκονται εδώ κι εκεί, πεινασμένα, πρόσωπα
γερασμένα κιόλας στα δεκατρία τους…»
(p. 31).

And at the same time, as if speaking of some other country or some other era, he would continue describing what he saw around him as follows:

«… οι νεαροί με ρόδινα μάγουλα…»
(p. 32).

It seems, then, that even amongst the popular masses, poverty was unevenly spread. Such a reality would gradually even out upwards, for the vast masses of people. As the decade of the 1960’s unfolded, we had a move from “exploitation” based on the poverty of consumers (the 1956 Paragogikotis observation) to a so-called “exploitation” of consumers based on their relative “affluence”, and which lay the foundations for the rise of middle class “values”.

We use the term “affluence” keeping in mind the very specific qualification we noted above when contrasting the Greek reality to Galbraith’s Affluent Society – and yet the economic development in 1960’s/early-1970’s Greece was rapid enough to make even that rather important Greek philosopher, Christos Malevitsis, fall into the trap of using Galbraith’s work as a theoretical tool in understanding Greek consumer behaviour early in 1972. Of course, his almost verbatim reproduction of Galbraith’s thinking would lead him to draw conclusions about Greek consumerism which are somewhat reminiscent of the Greek anti-consumer “intellectualist” bandwagon we have discussed above. But what remains of interest is that his falling into the Galbraith trap is simply symptomatic of the awe people felt at the time on seeing the material realities of Greece alter so deeply and, from a long-term perspective, so rapidly. In his Προοπτικές (Εκδόσεις Δωδώνη, Athens, 1972, p. 88), Malevitsis would write:

«…τα χαμηλά εισοδήματα διατίθενται για
την κάλυψη των άμεσων βιοτικών αναγκών –
τροφή, ενδυμασία, στέγη – όπου (στην απαραίτητη
ποσότητα κι όχι στις πολυτελείς εκτροπές) η
διαφήμιση δεν τις μετακινεί. Μόλις όμως αρχίζει
 να αυξάνει το εισόδημα επάνω από το στοιχειώδες
 επίπεδο διαβίωσης (και τούτο είναι χαρακτηριστικό
 της εποχής μας) ολοένα και μεγαλύτερο ποσοστό
αυτού του εισοδήματος διατίθεται βάσει ευμετάβολων
παρορμήσεων. Εδώ παρεμβαίνει η επίδραση της
διαφήμισης και αλλοιώνει τις προτιμήσεις του
καταναλωτή κατά τις κερδοφόρες επιθυμίες των
κατασκευαστών…» (my emph.).

We need not, by the way, see here any real contradiction between Malevitsis and the observations of the Paragogikotis quote cited above: the latter refers to conditions of poverty and how this leads to the “exploitation” of consumers by retail traders; Malevitsis simply tells us that consumers who merely stick to subsistence levels are not vulnerable to advertizing. Both may be quite accurate in what they say on this matter – and both would agree that soon most Greeks would be moving well beyond mere subsistence levels. In fact, what is of major interest here is that Malevitsis in the early-1970’s would fully agree with Panagiotopoulos’ «συνεχή απόκτηση υλικών αγαθών» in the late-1970’s: they would both see that, at least by the decade of the 1970’s, the “average Greek” (with the “Amalia-type” included) would be earning an income which allowed one to accumulate or renew material goods, or which allowed for the satisfaction of “impulses”. Thus, both would be identifying a “type” of person who was not working merely so as to subsist – he was not just some “labour-power” producing and reproducing itself ad infinitum, but rather someone capable of spending his income on so-called “luxury” goods (how and if this could lead to consumer “exploitation” remains an open question). The accumulative acquisition of such goods may have done little to alter whatever was one’s ‘political’ orientation – the “Amalia-type” was herself almost ‘apolitical’ in the strict sense of political ideology – but it would have done much to convince people of the value of private property, be that a pair of stockings or a house of one’s own. It is at this point that we would have the birth of middle class “values” amongst consumers.

For Malevitsis, then, the higher incomes and the capacity to spend money beyond basic needs, was that which characterized Greek society when writing in 1972 – «τούτο είναι χαρακτηριστικό της εποχής μας». How such money was spent by consumers, and the role of advertizing in such spending, are ‘facts’ of social history that need to be researched in a manner that lies beyond any ethical evaluation – but that higher incomes were changing the socio-cultural “values” of the popular masses, is certainly a verifiable fact. On the other hand, one need admit that such «χαρακτηριστικό» cannot apply to the 1960’s exactly as it did in the 1970s – the spread of consumerism was always uneven and not exactly linear for very many Greek families, although the massive emigration at the time would help those who remained behind to find jobs easier. Generally speaking, then, one may say that the Malevitsis text does signal the triumph of the middle class milieu and the peripheralization of working class immiseration.

In 1959, Nikos Tsiforos would observe the rising consumerism and the ubiquitous “Dream” of the vast majority of Greeks to join that «καλή αστική τάξις» – he writes:

«Πήρανε κι’ αυτοκίνητο, ένα τόσο δά Οπελάκι,
καλό και φιγουράτο, πήρανε και έπιπλα παρδαλά
με Στρωματέξ, γίνανε εκείνο πού λέγεται
 “καλή αστική τάξις”…» (cf. Ελληνική κρουαζιέρα,
op. cit., p. 43, my emph.).

Writing of the late-1950’s, Tsiforos would also go on to describe how a simple worker – but who in any case had acquired some kind of «τέχνη» while selling his “labour-power” – would finally decide to establish his own smallish pork meat factory, hiring as wage-labourers some of his ex-colleagues. This case – that of «Αριστείδης», as Tsiforos calls him (and to whom we shall return below) – is a highly representative “type” of that “average Greek” who would move from being a seller of “labour-power” to that of a buyer of “labour-power”. Strictly speaking (or in Marxian terms), that would make of him a ‘small capitalist’, but at least in terms of socio-cultural “values”, all it would really have meant for «Αριστείδη» was that he could now somehow taste the vestiges of a middle class style of life (something itself not very far removed from the “style” of at least many skilled workers). Tsiforos writes:

«Ο Αριστείδης με την τέχνη του, “δεν ανοίγομεν
μικρόν τι εργαστήριον βιοτεχνικόν με αλλαντικά;”
… πήρε και κάνα-δύο πατιράκια παλιούς συναδέλφους
που ξέρανε την δουλειά, άνοιξε η επιχείρηση…
χωρίς να το καταλάβη βρέθηκε με λεφτά ο
Αριστείδης…» (ibid., pp. 73-74).

Of course, this “successful” new member of the Greek middle classes, and who had belonged to the class of wage-earners a little time back, may have quite easily regressed to his previous social status a few years later, as so often happened with so many freelancing small-time entrepreneurs – but such social mobility would nonetheless happen within a steady socio-cultural framework, that being the ubiquitous “Dream” we have referred to. That such mobility was always accompanied by a steady “Dream” somehow takes care of a highly interesting question as regards the ‘reception’ of advertizing discourse by someone such as an «Αριστείδης» (or a Zygoyiannis, the A&M Mill worker). How would «Αριστείδης»-qua-worker have ‘received’ the message of an advertisement and how would «Αριστείδης»-qua-manufacturer have ‘received’ such message? That which would determine the form of the ‘reception’ would have been the only steady element – i.e. that middle class “Dream”. But that such “Dream” hid within it the contradictions of social mobility (and therefore insecurity) would be factors that advertizing discourse would have to take into account – were it not to have somehow done so, a ‘communication crisis’ could have ensued between buyer and seller (or advertiser). Again, this points to the ‘balance of compromises’ that advertizing discourse would have to make so that it deal with the internal contradictions of the up-and-coming Greek middle classes. Matters would be further complicated when a “type” such as «Αριστείδης»-the-manufacturer would himself turn advertiser (as he would, according to Tsiforos), and would find himself competing with foreign giants advertizing products related to cured meats (we shall definitely have to come back to this).

This “Greek Dream” that we talk of would constitute a generalized social consciousness amongst the various strata of the popular masses, and it would fire their imagination in more ways than one. People would “dream” of moving away from their position as wage-labourers to setting up their own entrepreneurial operations (and thus objectively coming to belong to the middle classes), and many would even “dream” of becoming capitalist “millionaires” – Koeppen (op. cit.) would observe this in 1961:

«Μια ώρα για να γίνεις εκατομμυριούχος,
ευτυχισμένος σαν τον πλούσιο Ωνάση.
Στα όνειρά σου» (p. 33).

Of course, apart from possible exceptions, becoming a “millionaire” was an unreachable dream, and therefore belonged to the wildest of fantasies – and yet, it was not at all so for the thousands who departed for places such as America. Just one case in point is that of “Marcos”, who had come to belong to the circle of friends of the Aliartian barber in the 1970’s. This man left Greece in the early-1960’s and settled in South Africa. On departing, his single-minded purpose was just that: to become a “millionaire”. Prior to emigrating, he had been working as a wage-labourer in some small bakery and could hardly make ends meet, and that, despite the fact that he had no family of his own. In South Africa, he would gradually establish his own bakery, remain single so as to restrict personal expenses to a bare minimum, and worked day and night. He expanded his business throughout Johannesburg and beyond. By the early-1980’s, he had made enough money so as to buy himself a small island in the Aegean («σαν τον πλούσιο Ωνάση»).

We know that for those who had stayed behind, the “Greek Dream” could be realizable, though of course only in part. But the “fantasy” of “wealth and happiness” was a real component part of popular social consciousness – it was not at all any “false consciousness”, since upward social mobility was both psychologically wished for and, within certain reasonable limits, materially possible. Advertizing discourse in Greece at the time cannot be understood without taking such ‘psycho-material matrix’ into consideration. Unlike “Marcos”, the “Amalia-type” and her family would never have been able to buy an island for themselves, but they could have bought themselves their very own house – the care Amalia would take in ‘decorating’ her “Home” was, as we shall further discuss below, much inspired by the advertizing of a «ΠΕΙΡΑΪΚΗ-ΠΑΤΡΑΪΚΗ».

The observations of a Malevitsis and a Panagiotopoulos, the perceptive descriptions of a Tsiforos and a Koeppen, the real cases of a Zygoyianni and the consumer capacities of the young “Amalia-type” (though perhaps not that exceptional case of a poor young “Marco” becoming a millionaire) – all such, need to be directly contrasted to the philosophical pearls of dialectical wisdom churned out by the hermetically sealed academic chairs of the likes of a Horkheimer and an Adorno. These would insist:

«Η πολιτιστική βιομηχανία εξαπατά αδιάκοπα
τους καταναλωτές στερώντας τους αυτό που
αδιάκοπα τους υπόσχεται» (op. cit., p. 231).

We do know that Amalia Eleftheriadou would remain a “White-Collar” employee at the A&M Mill Headquarters till the early-1970’s: her relatively low remuneration as a “Clerk” and the “Bureaucratic Despotism” exercised on her by her boss could have frustrated her middle class “Dream” day in and day out for as long as her movements were confined behind those tall factory gates. But outside those gates, in the so-called sphere of ‘reproduction’, that «πολιτιστική βιομηχανία» would gradually allow her to become an active consumer – it would, by and large, fulfill a “Dream” the content of which would be inscribed (in its various contradictory ways) within advertizing discourse. Such advertizing content would include ‘models’, ‘styles’ and ‘prototypes’ of living which the “Amalia-type” would wish, here and there, to identify herself with – like the vast masses of Greek working people, she wanted to see herself as a potential member of the new middle classes.

It is precisely this sphere of life of the “Amalia-type” – that which happened outside the factory gates – which the Greek “Left” (like the Frankfurtians) could not possibly swallow. For the “Left”, such ‘outside’ reality was being imposed on blinded proletarians by the capitalist «πολιτιστική βιομηχανία». Consider, for instance, how Constandina Pantazi-Tzifa, in her book, Η θέση της γυναίκας στην Ελλάδα (Athens, 1984, Νέα Σύνορα, Εκδόσεις Α. Α. Λιβάνη) would present the overall reality of Greek women even as late as the 1980’s – she writes:

«Στη χώρα μας, η βιομηχανία της διαφήμισης
εμπνέεται, τις περισσότερες φορές, από τα πιο
εξεζητημένα αμερικανικά πρότυπα και
 απομακρύνεται όλο και περισσότερο από την
 πραγματικότητα, μεταφέροντας μια νοοτροπία
και δημιουργώντας “μοντέλα” που επιβάλλονται
και διαμορφώνουν τα άτομα και το περιβάλλον
τους, σύμφωνα με τα κριτήρια αξιών κατάλληλων
για τη βιομηχανική επικοινωνία…»
(p. 91, my emph.).

Were we to accept Pantazi-Tzifa’s observation that advertizing discourse has had this tendency to “distance” itself from the Greek reality («απομακρύνεται», etc.), then we would have to go one step further and conclude that such discourse would be operating in an almost complete social vacuum – but if that be the case, then either the recipients of such discourse were themselves almost completely ‘vacuous’, or the advertizing discourse would not be communicating its message to people. But we know that advertisements did help sell products, as we also know that the “Amalia-type” would, to some extent, accept certain American “stereotypes” and/or “models”, seeing in these, as she did, an element of “modernity”. One suspects that Pantazi-Tzifa fails to grasp the whole of the “Amalia-type” reality because she restricts her perspective to that of the workplace (as would any vulgar ‘Marxist’).

That the middle class “Dream” was gradually being realized is explainable, and such explanation would also apply to the “Amalia-type”. With reference to real economic growth in the period of the Military Dictatorship, Nikos Poulantzas provides us with the most reliable – and most objective – picture. Some “anti-Junta” hotheads like George N. Giannopoulos would, in 1976, write:

«η αύξηση της πραγματικής αγοραστικής δύναμης
του εργάτη βιομηχανίας, ήταν ασήμαντη στην
περίοδο της δικτατορίας… [το] χρηματικό εισόδημα
του μισθωτού αυξανόταν σ’ αυτή την περίοδο
με πολύ βραδύτερο ρυθμό απ’ ό,τι το εισόδημα
του ιδιοκτήτη ή του κεφαλαιούχου» (cf. his «Οι
εργάτες και οι αγρότες στο καθεστώς της στρατιωτικής
δικτατορίας», in Η Ελλάδα κάτω από στρατιωτικό
 ζυγό, Εκδόσεις Παπαζήση, Athens, 1976, pp. 136-181
& pp. 182-207).

To add insult to injury, yet another “anti-Junta” hothead, Ilias Nikolopoulos, would draw the following ‘scientific’ conclusion, based on the above quote, in 2010 – he notes:

«… με αποτέλεσμα η σχετική θέση των εργατών
να χειροτερέψει από το 1967 και μετά» (cf.
his «Κοινωνικοπολιτικές διαστάσεις του αγώνα
κατά του καθεστώτος της στρατιωτικής δικτατορίας»,
in Tetradia [Τετράδια], No. 57-8, 2010, p. 84).

This is not a matter of insulting the Colonels (Hobsbawm has even written of their «πολιτική ηλιθιότητα», op. cit., p. 447) – it is, however, a matter of causing injury to historical facts. In his The Crisis of the Dictatorships [greek edition: Η κρίση των δικτατοριών, Θεμέλιο, 2006), Poulantzas provides us with a number of concrete data which clearly show that the consumer power of the popular masses in the period of the Greek Military Dictatorship was definitely growing, and which would determine both consumer patterns and even political behaviour. He writes:

«Σύμφωνα με τις στατιστικές του OCDE, η μέση
ετήσια άνοδος των ωρομισθίων και των τιμών των
 ειδών κατανάλωσης, μεταξύ 1966 και 1971, ήταν
… στην Ελλάδα 8,8% και 2,1% ... [Thus] η βελτίωση
της αγοραστικής δύναμης είναι σαφής στην…
Ελλάδα… Ένα πρόσθετο αποδεικτικό στοιχείο –
μολονότι πρόκειται για δείκτη κατά προσέγγιση –
είναι η άνοδος του μέσου κατά κεφαλήν εισοδήματος,
ιδιαίτερα στην Ισπανία και την Ελλάδα (το 1964,
500 δολάρια κατά κεφαλήν για την Ισπανία και
590 για την Ελλάδα … η τελευταία ξεπέρασε σήμερα
[1975] τα 1.500 δολάρια, ενώ η Ισπανία τα πλησιάζει).
… Εκείνο που μας επιτρέπει να μιλάμε για πραγματική
βελτίωση της αγοραστικής δύναμης, είναι η
ιδιάζουσα θέση των χωρών αυτών στη ζώνη
εξάρτησης, κατά τη σημερινή φάση, καθώς
βέβαια και το εξαιρετικά χαμηλό επίπεδο της
προηγούμενης αγοραστικής δύναμης των μαζών …
Αν λοιπόν η βελτίωση δεν οφείλεται, ούτε στο ελάχιστο,
στα δικτατορικά καθεστώτα, είναι ωστόσο
γεγονός ότι δεν κατάφεραν να την ανακόψουν:
χαρακτηριστική περίπτωση η Ελλάδα, όπου η βελτίωση
είχε πρωτοεμφανιστεί στις αρχές της δεκαετίας του ’60,
πολύ πριν από το καθεστώς των συνταγματαρχών,
κι ωστόσο συνεχίστηκε και μ’ αυτό. Εδώ εντοπίζεται
ένας παράγοντας που συντέλεσε σ’ έναν κάποιο
περιορισμό της πολιτικής ανάπτυξης των αγώνων»
(pp. 66-67, his emph. throughout).

There are at least three basic observations made by Poulantzas above which we should always keep in mind when talking of the 1960’s/early-1970’s period:

  • We had a clear-cut real improvement in the per capita income of the “average Greek” (and that, whatever the general inequalities). This real improvement would mean that the style of life and the “worldview” of the “Amalia-type” would be directly affected – and such real improvement would of course be welcomed by the vast majority of the popular masses and that, despite the socio-cultural contradictions that would ensue as discussed above;
  • Such real improvement in material conditions would, in the minds of people, constitute an unheard of and previously unimaginable state of affairs, and that, given – as Poulantzas so accurately states – «το εξαιρετικά χαμηλό επίπεδο της προηγούμενης αγοραστικής δύναμης». This would fire the popular imagination and thereby give birth to “The Middle Class Dream”, which was that of the “New Amalia-type”, even amongst wage-earners.
  • Despite what the “Left” would want us to believe – and despite how it would decide to write its own history – the real revolution of the period was essentially in the field of culture, sexual behaviour and patterns of consumption – Poulantzas, who was himself a communist theoretician, had no choice but to admit the bitter truth: that «κάποιο περιορισμό της πολιτικής ανάπτυξης των αγώνων». As we know, direct political interest on the part of the “Amalia-type” was itself characterized by at least such a «κάποιο περιορισμό»: what was to galvanize the mind and body of an Amalia Eleftheriadou lay elsewhere.

Perhaps we should here also mention the work of Roupa (op. cit.), which also includes specific statistics enabling one to explain the rise of consumerism in the 1960’s – and which forces her to make admissions such as the following:

«[there had been a] βελτίωση του εισοδήματος
μεγάλου μέρους του ελληνικού λαού –
μέσα σε μια γενιά το Α.Ε.Π. τριπλασιάστηκε…»
(p. 255).

Now, the 100% increase in GDP during the 1960’s, which she elsewhere notes (p. 269), must surely have constituted the basic reason behind the rise of consumerism – and therefore concepts such as “patriotism”, “foreign influence” and “national character” which she wants to consider as alternative explanatory (or “manipulative”) factors lying behind consumerist patterns, are only of secondary interest, though such factors could determine the forms of such patterns.

The objectively measurable real improvement of material conditions – the real increase in the “average” per capita income – would allow people to buy things, to accumulate them and to renew them: but Roupa comes to see such capacity as a “compulsion” imposed on people by the “manipulative” strategies of advertizing discourse – she writes:

«Αρκετές διαφημίσεις έγιναν ψυχαναγκαστικές
και παρουσίασαν την αποχή από την κατανάλωση
ως πράξη επιτιμητική και τιμωρητέα»
(p. 266, my emph.).

We do not at all mean to doubt the existence of such “compulsive” advertizing discourse in the 1960’s, etc. (it is an example of that type of advertisement which we shall present as “provocatively interventionist”), but to argue that people consumed because of such “compulsive” advertizing discourse verges on the ridiculous: try to imagine the young Amalia Eleftheriadou working eight hours a day, six days a week at the A&M Headquarters, and then practicing some sort of religiously-inspired «αποχή από την κατανάλωση». No, Amalia did not belong to either a Christian Orthodox monastic order or to an Orthodox Communist anti-consumerist sect. It is quite true that neighbours would “compete” amongst one another as to who would buy the first fridge, and it is as true that those “left behind” could be looked down on by the rest – but such practices were a product of the objective rise in GDP and reflected the new “popular values” of a middle class cultural milieu made possible by the increase in per capita income. There was, therefore, “compulsion” – but that was as much a popular grassroots social practice.

The Roupa position, of course, could concede that buying as such would be ‘proper’, but not so when it came to buying (what Galbraith had called) “superfluous-artificial” goods (op. cit). This brings us to that rather complex question of what it means to buy “luxury” goods, and which cannot possibly be understood without relating it to the up-and-coming middle-class “values” of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Examining the relationship between Greek films and the issue of consumerism in the late-1950’s and the early-1960’s, Roupa says that such films placed an emphasis on material goods, the renewal of furniture, and other “luxuries” meant to achieve “personal satisfaction”. She critically observes:

«… στηρίζουν την πλοκή τους στη βελτίωση
της ζωής και την προσωπική ικανοποίηση
μέσα από την κατανάλωση και την κατοχή
υλικών αγαθών… [Η] έμφαση δίδεται στην
αλλαγή της επίπλωσης και στην… υιοθέτηση
πολυτελούς τρόπου ζωής» (p. 264).

The question of “material luxuries” raised here is extremely important in trying to comprehend what we have called the Greek middle class milieu – i.e. whether such ‘milieu’ would in fact mean the ultimate satisfaction of certain “superfluous-artificial needs” (or at least the mere craving for the satisfaction of such needs).

We may begin with some general observations. First, we would argue that it is extremely difficult (though perhaps not impossible through the meticulous research of the history of a single product and the developments of its own specifications) to estimate, within historical time (not necessarily at all “linear”), when a “luxury good” is a “false need” and at what point in time such “false need” has gradually turned real – i.e. has become expressive of the new needs of a new “type” of person, whose very “nature” has undergone mutations through the capacity to consume new types of products. One may counter-argue, secondly, that “luxury products” always remain “false” – but in such case a highly paradoxical question arises: if the “luxuries” enjoyed by the ‘dominant classes’ throughout all history have been “false”, then why is it that they would always fight tooth and nail – even to the point of waging wars – so that such “luxuries” be monopolized on their behalf? If their “motives” have been “false”, then we are faced with a “false” history (which would be ludicrous). We may therefore fairly safely adopt the position that any “luxury” becomes a real need when its possessor feels it so within a particular socio-historical context: all other criteria must be rejected as either ‘metaphysical’ or ‘ahistorical’, or both. It is within such framework that we shall have to consider the so-called “artificial” tastes of the emerging Greek middle class milieu of the period.

We know that it is Galbraith who has been the doyen of that concept of “superfluous” or “artificial needs”, and we know how influential his thinking had been in Greece and all over the Western world at the time. In his The New Industrial State (op. cit.), he would very articulately unfold his arguments which, in hindsight, seem either devoid of any real historical sense or are unsuited to the Greek case of the period under discussion. One representative passage is the following:

“… goods that are related only to elementary
physical sensation – that merely prevent hunger,
protect against cold, provide shelter, suppress
pain – have come to comprise a small and diminishing
part of all production. Most goods serve needs that
are discovered to the individual not by palpable
discomfort that accompanies deprivation, but by some
psychic response to their possession. They give him
a sense of personal achievement, accord him a feeling
of equality with his neighbours, divert his mind from
thought, serve sexual aspiration, promise social
acceptability, enhance his subjective feeling of health,
well-being or orderly peristalsis, contribute by
conventional canons to personal beauty, or are otherwise
psychologically rewarding” (p. 206).

One could assess such mode of thinking from a number of critical perspectives. Firstly, his understanding of what constitutes “palpable discomfort” is statically ahistorical: that which could cause “discomfort” to a middle class New Yorker in the 1960’s cannot be randomly equated to what “discomfited” a coarse, weather-beaten peasant of Aliarto in the 1940’s. And similarly, even his reference to “equality” is devoid of any socio-historical content, and is therefore either to be rejected as a useless ‘abstraction’ or to be accepted as a concept which only applies to certain concrete social formations. Secondly, it is not at all clear why “hunger”, “cold” “shelter”, etc. are all more real (or, as Galbraith puts it, more “elementary”) than are “sexual aspiration”, the “subjective feeling of health”, or – even – the issue of “personal beauty”. All these latter so-called “psychological” states are real, ‘material’ social practices, and which have been historically determined in a variety of different forms throughout human history. Thirdly, and applying such critical observations to at least some aspects of the Greek case, we may ask:

  • Would, for Galbraith, the buying of a fridge, a stove, a washing machine, etc., in Greece in the 1960’s, have constituted consumption of “necessary” goods meant to ease “palpable discomfort”, or were these just “luxury” goods meant to give people “a sense of personal achievement”? Did not, say, a fridge, serve absolutely necessary needs at the time, while at the same time – given the circumstances – also function as a “status symbol” (“psychic response”)? Surely here, the abstract, ahistorical categorization of commodities into “necessary” and “luxury” would be quite ludicrous for the Greek case.
  • Was not the question of “personal beauty” in Greece in the 1960’s, a real socio-cultural practice amongst females that went well beyond the “Industrial State” but was also a necessary expression of it? We well know that “personal beauty” for females had been as “psychologically rewarding” in, say, Minoan culture (1600 BC) as it was in the 1960’s: for a 1960’s young woman in Greece, “beauty” (and the accessories that would accompany it) would come to constitute a necessary “reward” of the “Golden Age” which redefined her relationship to herself and others. One needs here a social history of “personal beauty”, obviously pre-dating the “Industrial System” (cf. our paper on “female beauty” as a socio-cultural practice in the 1960’s/1970’s).
  • Were not the “sexual aspirations” of the young in the 1960’s as real and as necessary as the need to eat and clothe oneself, given the post-war reality of the Greek sexual revolution? Was not the mini-skirt a necessary “luxury” for many young girls by the late-1960’s? Maybe not and maybe yes: but it was these young girls – as historical subjects – who would decide for themselves.
  • Finally, was it not a real necessity for the “average Greek” to continually increase his consumer power so as to bridge the dramatically wide income gap between himself and the Greek social elites? Was his need for some relative “social equality” not an absolute social necessity? Or was it merely “some psychic response” meant to “accord him a feeling of equality with his neighbours”? These latter questions clearly bring to light the completely different social conditions that prevailed in Greece vis-à-vis the USA.

One may therefore at this point draw the following general conclusion: the struggle, on the part of the “average Greek” in the 1960’s, for “palpable comfort” (buying a fridge), and his capacity to increase his consumer power, as also his ability to ‘indulge’ in socio-cultural practices emphasizing “beauty” and “sex” – all these, albeit perhaps “luxuries”, were at the same time historical necessities. Being so, they were not at all “superfluous-artificial needs”, as Galbraith and his interpreters in Greece would want us to believe. Put together, they all constituted the historically necessary elements – both ‘material’ and ‘psychological’ – which would galvanize the rise of the Greek middle class milieu.

Such conclusion would allow us to argue that the consumer patterns of the “Amalia-type” were never simply a product of “manipulation” – or, as Galbraith would say, of “persuasiveness” and the “management” of consumer demand from “above”. And, to be absolutely fair to Galbraith himself, one should note that, here and there, his work does allow for varying degrees of “manipulation”/”persuasiveness”/”management”, depending on historical circumstances – and which would allow the social researcher to gauge, not only degrees of “management” from “above”, but also degrees of “management” coming from “below”, and depending on the historical periodization. Such historical sensitivities in Galbraith’s The New Industrial State are rare and definitely do not constitute an organic part of his analyses – and yet, he can once in a while, admit:

“When goods were less abundant, when they
served urgent physical need and their acquisition
received close thought and attention, purchases
were much less subject to management” (p. 220).

In 1960’s Greece, goods were definitely “less abundant” in comparison to the case of the USA at the time, and Amalia would struggle hard within the Headquarters of the A&M company to be able to buy herself a pair of stockings, a bottle of perfume or a tube of toothpaste. The acquisition of such so-called “luxuries” would of course “receive close thought and attention” on the part of the “Amalia-type” – that “close thought and attention” was precisely how Amalia Eleftheriadou would relate to the advertisements that bombarded her. At least in its transitional phase, therefore, the up-and-coming Greek middle class milieu of the 1960’s/early-1970’s would, up to some point, “manage” its own consumer patterns of behaviour. It is quite true that there was much “frenzy” – as has so often been said – amongst the Greek youth of the period, but this was not something “engineered” or “managed” from some “systemic forces” coming from “above”: such “forces” had to take into consideration a youthful grassroots “frenzy” which had no choice but to delimit and “manage” itself given its “less abundant” material conditions.

We shall end this sub-section with the observations of Pavlos Floros, an important Greek “intellectual” who belongs to the so-called «γενιά του ’30» and who, as a “cosmopolitan”, was able to compare and contrast Greece with the rest of Europe and draw conclusions as to what had really happened to the Greek people by the late 1960’s. In a 1967 article entitled «Γυρισμός» and published in Nea Hestia (No 967 – 15.10.1967), Floros would make the following truly astounding observations with respect to the anthropologically mutated “New Greek”:

«Η πρώτη εντύπωση από την ανθρώπινη
μορφολογία: Ράτσα αφάνταστα στιβαρή
και ρωμαλέα. Δεν είταν έτσι το 1919 και
το 1922, μήτε το 1940. Ο μέσος όρος του
αναστήματος, του ύψους, φαίνεται πως
μεγάλωσε. Η εξήγηση για τη μεταμόρφωση;
Ο εξολοθρεμός των ανωφελών κουνουπιών,
η καλοπέραση από το 1953 κ’ εδώ, η εκλαΐκευση
της υγιεινής και της πολιτισμένης κατοικίας…»
(pp. 1364-1367).

And further, he would observe –

«… την οικείωση του απλοϊκού ανθρώπου,
επαρχιώτη μικροαστού, καλλιεργητή ή
τσέλιγκα, με τις ανέσεις του συγχρόνου βίου
και της ευεξίας, με τον οικιακό πολιτισμό
και την υγιεινή» (ibid.).

There was a positive material content in all advertizing discourse of the period which offered real material goods that were necessary, at times absolutely necessary, for this new Greek «ανθρώπινη μορφολογία». Whatever the form of advertizing discourse – whether it be “provocative-interventionist”, or “compromisingly adjusted” to local conditions, or something in-between, or just simply “neutral” – it would offer the necessary goods of “modernity” that expressed this historically novel «μορφολογία». As Floros suggests, these goods included products related to hygiene, home facilities and comforts, technological devices, etc. – all of which would come to constitute what he calls an «οικιακό πολιτισμό». Thus, before we examine the extent to which Greek consumer demand was being “managed” from “above” and the extent to which advertizing discourse was itself being “managed” from “below”, we need to consider the relationship between advertizing and the new material goods available for the “New Type” of Greek – this constituting, we are suggesting, the positive material content of all advertizing discourse at the time.

GLOSSARY:

NOTES:
● «ανθρώπινη μορφολογία»: human morphology
● «αποχή από την κατανάλωση»: consumer abstinence
● «γενιά του ‘30»: the generation of the 1930’s
● «Η Ελλάδα κάτω από στρατιωτικό ζυγό»: “Greece under the military yoke”.
«Η θέση της γυναίκας στην Ελλάδα»: “The place of woman in Greek society”.
● «καλή αστική τάξις»: good bourgeois class
● «κάποιο περιορισμό της πολιτικής ανάπτυξις των αγώνων»: a certain limitation in the political development of the struggles
● «Κοινωνικοπολιτικές διαστάσεις του αγώνα κατά του καθεστώτος της στρατιωτικής δικτατορίας»: “Sociopolitical dimensions of the struggle against the regime of the military dictatorship”.
● «να γίνεται άλλος»: to become someone else
● «Οι εργάτες και οι αγρότες στο καθεστώς της στρατιωτικής δικτατορίας»: “Workers and peasants in the regime of the military dictatorship”.
● «Οι σύγχρονοι κοινοί τόποι»: “The modern common grounds” or “commonalities” (free translation).
● «οικιακό πολιτισμό»: domestic culture
● «ΠΕΙΡΑΪΚΗ-ΠΑΤΡΑΪΚΗ»: “PEIRAIKI-PATRAIKI” – “PEIRAIKI”, from Pireaus; “PATRAIKI” from Patras. Greece’s largest textile producer, 1919-1996.
● «πολιτική ηλιθιότητα»: political idiocy or fatuity
● «πολιτιστική βιομηχανία»: “culture industry”, term often used by the old Frankfurtian School
● «Προοπτικές»: “Prospects”.
● «σαν τον πλούσιο Ωνάση»: like the rich Onassis
● «συνεχή απόκτηση υλικών αγαθών»: continual purchasing of material goods
● «τέχνη»: skill
● «το εξαιρετικά χαμηλό επίπεδο της προηγούμενης αγοραστικής δύναμης»: the exceptionally low level of the preceding purchasing power
● «τούτο είναι χαρακτηριστικό της εποχής μας»: this is characteristic of our epoch

NEW-FOUND MATERIAL COMFORTS AND THE POSITIVE MATERIAL CONTENT OF ADVERTIZING DISCOURSE

All categories of advertizing discourse, and including those which one could say were highly ‘manipulative’, did have what may be referred to as a positive material content – by this we mean that most advertisements helped to inform and introduce people to the newly available material comforts of “modernity”. All promised what Ernst Bloch had called (for his own reasons) the “material of hope” of the post-war years. Greek “intellectuals” would see this and reject both the ‘materials’ and the ‘hope’: they would generally look down on the material “triumphs” of people, especially in the period of the Military Dictatorship. For Manolis Anagnostakis, even an absolutely necessary “luxury” such as the fridge was presented as «πράγματα ανιαρά» – in a 1970 poem which appeared in Δεκαοχτώ Κείμενα [Eighteen Texts, Κέδρος] and entitled «Ο Στόχος», he would write:

«(Επιμένω να διηγούμαι και μάλιστα
πολύ ωμά, πράγματα που
τα ξέρετε όλοι…
Πράγματα ανιαρά, που δεν κινούν πια
διόλου το ενδιαφέρον σας
Όπως… το ψυγείο Κελβινέϊτορ)»
(p. 131).

We note that Anagnostakis places this stanza of his verse within brackets – for him, presumably, the fact of buying and using a Kelvinator fridge constituted a boring little “parenthesis” of life – what really mattered, and which was the purpose behind the Δεκαοχτώ Κείμενα, was to fight the “Junta” regime. Unwittingly or not, he was in fact placing the “Amalia-type” itself – whose “Dream” was to possess a fridge – within such “parenthesis”.

If Anagnostakis would choose to place Amalia Eleftheriadou and her fridge (or her “dream-fridge”) within a symbolically-expressive “parenthesis”, D. N. Maronitis would go even further: he would throw the poor young lady, together with all her material comforts (or “wished-for” comforts) in prison. This may sound like an overstatement of his thinking but it is not so – this is what he would write in his own contribution to that collection of literary texts entitled Δεκαοχτώ Κείμενα of 1970:

«[There are] τρία είδη από φυλακές, μέσα
στις οποίες ζουν οι άνθρωποι του αιώνα μας,
είτε το καταλαβαίνουν είτε όχι… Η πρώτη
 διαθέτει ακόμη πολλές ανέσεις και τόσο
 διακοσμημένες πληγές, που δύσκολα ξεχωρίζει
 κανείς την αληθινή κραυγή από την
 κερδοσκοπία και την διαφήμιση» (pp. 135-
136, my emph.).

The thinking of the “Left-wing” Maronitis is certainly characterized by that ‘arrogance’ of many “Leftist intellectuals” which we have spoken of above – interestingly, his text in the 1970 Κείμενα carries the title «Υπεροψία και μέθη», and whoever it is he intends to throw such accusations at, these certainly boomerang back on his own stance. The ‘arrogance’ expressed in the quote referred to blinds him absolutely to any real, positive material content of advertizing discourse at the time: whatever real material comforts promoted by such discourse are reduced to mere «διακοσμημένες πληγές». Why so? His inflexible dogmatism blinds him to the real “material of hope” experienced by categories of people such as the “Amalia-type”, and as such “type” would relate to advertizing messages. Put otherwise, what he cannot at all see is the fact that the post-war “modern world” is successfully beginning to help people of all social strata overcome a great deal of the physical exertion that they were stuck in prior to the 1950’s. Freed from such physical exertion – obviously in a relative sense – the “Amalia-type” would not need to cry out the anguish of a prisoner («αληθινή κραυγή»): the young lady could now use her new-found free-time outside the A&M Headquarters to experiment with the new milieu that was unfolding.

We have noted above how Habermas would, by the mid-1980’s, come to reject whatever theory presented post-war “modernity” as an «επίπεδο και άχρωμο τοπίο ενός πλήρως διοικούμενου, υπολογιζόμενου και εξουσιαζόμενου κόσμου» (op. cit.). He would reject such interpretations of the new “forms of life” because none of these interpretations had really wanted to understand the real social revolution that had occurred when it came to limiting the physical exertion which people had to suffer in the past merely so as to survive. In an important passage in his The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, he would emphasize:

«Καμμιά τους [i.e. none of all such theories] … δεν
είναι ευαίσθητη ως προς το εξαιρετικά διφορούμενο
περιεχόμενο της πολιτιστικής και κοινωνικής
νεωτερικότητας. Αυτή η ισοπέδωση παρατηρείται
 επίσης και κατά τη διαχρονική σύγκριση νεωτερικών
 και προνεωτερικών μορφών ζωής» (greek edition, p. 416, my emph.).

What do all such theories not do at all when undertaking such a comparison of these different “forms of life”? Habermas continues:

«Δεν υπολογίζεται καν το ακόμη πιο υψηλό κόστος
 που έπρεπε παλιότερα να καταβάλλει η μάζα του
 πληθυσμού … στις διαστάσεις της σωματικής
 εργασίας, των υλικών συνθηκών ζωής και των ατομικών
 δυνατοτήτων εκλογής, της νομικής ασφάλειας και …
 της πολιτικής συμμετοχής, της σχολικής εκπαίδευσης
 κλπ» (ibid., my emph.).

Thus, when comparing the post-war “modern times” to the past, one cannot possibly deny the real “progress” that had been achieved both materially and in terms of participation and personal choice, etc. Advertizing discourse would inscribe within itself this material lessening of physical exertion – and, further, in cases where we had a “provocative-interventionism” in any such discourse, the masses could exercise their own choice as to what to reject and what accept («ατομικών δυνατοτήτων εκλογής»). And even further – interpreting the element of the ‘political’ in its wider socio-cultural sense – the “Amalia-type” would have the capacity to “participate” in the forging of the “ideological discourse” of advertizing (and as we have discussed above). All such realities of the post-war period, but especially as regards the material delimitation of time and energy expended on physical exertion, would constitute the positive material content of all advertizing discourse in Greece at the time. The mass “response” to advertizing must be seen within such context. (Of course, the question of physical exertion had already been preoccupying the American female well prior to World War II – cf. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1987; Greek translation, Η Εποχή των Αυτοκρατοριών, Μορφωτικό Ίδρυμα Εθνικής Τραπέζης, Αθήνα, 2007, p. 333. The question of female exertion in the household would be tackled with concepts and practices related to the “scientific management” of the household.)

We may now consider samples of the very many advertisements which appeared in the 1960’s and which emphasized this possibility of escaping physical exertion. A 1967 issue of Romantso would carry the following advertisement promoting a fridge :

«Ξαναβρήτε την προσωπικότητά σας μέσα
στο σπίτι σας. – CANDY ρομπότ – σταματά
τη μπουγάδα – Τώρα με το CANDY έγιναν
όλα πιο εύκολα… Ένας από τους 4 τύπους
πλυντηρίων CANDY ταιριάζει οπωσδήποτε
στο νοικοκυριό σα ς… Πρώτα στην κατανάλωση
… ΤΑ ΠΛΥΝΤΗΡΙΑ ΠΟΥ ΣΑΣ ΛΑΤΡΕΥΟΥΝ»
(Ρομάντσο, No 1248, 31.1.1967).

This advertisement is comprised of a fairly complex discourse which demands that it be analyzed and somehow “categorized” along the “provocative” – “adjustment”, etc. scale. We shall not at this point attempt this here – we merely dwell on phrases such as «σταματά τη μπουγάδα» or «Τώρα … έγιναν όλα πιο εύκολα». The “Amalia-type” is asked to contrast the well-known reality of a «μπουγάδα» to the as real possibility of escaping its physical exertion through “robotic” technology, and which would also mean saving on extra free time.

Now, although this home device was, at the time, being sold in fifty towns all over Greece – apart of course from the cities of Athens and Salonika – it would most probably not as yet have belonged to a family such as that of Amalia Eleftheriadou. This is a mere assumption, but it is based on the fact that it was only by the very late-1960’s/early-1970’s that a sizeable proportion of the “average Boeotian” would venture into buying a washing machine for his home – though we know that by then many IZOLA workers (especially but not only) would buy themselves more than one washing machine (one for their home, another/others as dowry if they had daughters).

But even if the Eleftheriadou family did not possess a washing machine in 1967, it was still just such home device that the “Amalia-type” would have dreamt of, especially as she would project her life into the future, when she would establish her own home. We know that especially female working youths would, not only focus on their “frenzied” present, but also be thoroughly forward-looking. The “Amalia-type” would dream of her own future “Home” as a place that would have escaped from the physical exertions of doing the washing for her own family – the “CANDY” advertisement could only but have addressed itself to the problematic realities of the day within the 1960’s household, and Amalia would have definitely given such advertisement her “close thought and attention” (Galbraith) – i.e. would have attended at least to the positive material content of such discourse.

One may compare the «CANDY ρομπότ» offered to Greek housewives with that of the reality which they would need to escape from. Zyranna Zateli, in an excellent collection of stories which truly capture the atmosphere of the 1960’s (Περσινή αρραβωνιαστικιά [Last Year’s Fiancée], Εκδόσεις ΣΙΓΑΡΕΤΑ, July 1984, 1st edition), would write of the «μπουγάδα» taking place in 1961 as follows:

«… κατευθύνθηκαν προς το υπόστεγο
όπου ανάβαμε καζάνι και πλέναμε…»
(pp. 12-13).

Marika Zota, resident of the Boeotia village of Kleidi, would describe the old-time women’s job of washing clothes as follows:

«Για το πλύσιμο φτιάχναμε αλισίβα –
στάχτη, απ’ τη φωτιά που είχαμε. Έριχνες
τη στάχτη στο καζάνι, κόχλαζε το νερό,
κι ύστερα έπρεπε να ρίξεις νερό κρύο:
το νερό σταμάταγε να βράζει κι έμενε πάνω
πάνω στρώμα η αλισίβα…» (cf. 17η προφορική
μαρτυρία: Μαρίκα Ζώτα, περ. 65 χρονών,
από Κλειδί Βοιωτίας, 30.7.2009, interview at
Aliarto).

Further, Vangelio Kalomiri, resident of Aliarto since the age of 19 (and by 2009 in her late ‘60’s), would speak as follows about washing, and with a focus on the sexual division of labour within the household:

«Οι δικές μας οι εποχές ήταν αλλιώς…
Πού να βγει έξω ο άντρας, ν’ απλώσει
την κιλότα… Τι λες!... Η γυναίκα ήτανε για
το σπίτι, η γυναίκα για όλα… Ξέρεις τι δουλειά
έχω ρίξει εγώ;…» (cf. an open discussion with
Βαγγελιώ Καλομοίρη at Aliarto – Interview No. 20,
12.8.2009).

And Tsiforos, in his Άνθρωποι και Ανθρωπάκια (op. cit), tells us how the Greek grandmothers would do the washing before products such as ‘TIDE’ and “ROL’ would enter the Greek home:

«Η γιαγιά.
Έπλενε καλώς…
Χώρια τ’ άσπρα, χώρια τα σκούρα.
Έβαζε και ινδικόν (λουλάκι)»
(p. 243).

This movement from the use of the traditional «λουλάκι» or of the «αλισίβα» to the advent of the much more technologically advanced foreign-produced detergents would be advertized on a massive scale by various publications – for instance, the daily newspaper Akropolis [Ακρόπολις] would carry advertisements such as the following in 1965:

«ΝΕΟ ROL SPOTLESS…
ΛΕΥΚΟ ΧΩΡΙΣ ΛΕΚΕΔΕΣ»
(cf. Akropolis, 28.11.1965,
p. 15).

Greek housewives and their daughters – who usually helped with the housework – would be exposed to advertisements which directly offered them the real possibility of less strain when it came to washing clothes – the daily newspaper Apogevmatini [Απογευματινή] would carry the following advertisement in December 1965:

«ΥΠΕΡΑΥΤΟΜΑΤΑ ΠΛΥΝΤΗΡΙΑ. Κυρίες μου,
σας προσφέρουμε το υπεραυτόματο ΠΛΥΝΤΗΡΙΟ
που πραγματικά θα σας ξεκουράση (ΜΟΝΟΝ που
 δεν σιδερώνει)…» (cf. Apogevmatini,
14.12.1965, p. 7, my emph.).

The positive material content of advertising discourse pertaining to the practice of washing and to the appliance of the washing machine would be the clearly technical functions of such device, and how such functions would substitute the physical exertion of persons – however much such reference to “technical functions” could be interpreted as “manipulation” on the part of the advertizing sector to persuade a housewife to buy the product, the fact nonetheless remains that such promised “functions” (and their material implications) could be verified by the user, and which means that advertizing discourse was in this case absolutely falsifiable in everyday practice. In November 1965, the Akropolis carried an advertisement that read as follows:

«ΥΠΕΡΑΥΤΟΜΑΤΟ ΠΛΥΝΤΗΡΙΟ… gabry
ΠΛΕΝΕΙ – ΞΕΒΓΑΖΕΙ – ΣΤΙΒΕΙ – ΣΤΕΓΝΩΝΕΙ…
μόνο του… 5 κιλά ρούχα…»
(cf. Akropolis, 28.11. 1965, p. 6).

The “Amalia-type”, using its “close thought and attention”, would inevitably focus on such specific functions – and would do so because these practically concerned the material conditions of the life of an Amalia Eleftheriadou: the latter would gradually accumulate enough money so as to buy and try out such device. Advertizing discourse can and does tell lies – on the other hand, ‘capitalist’ technology does not: were it not for such technology, each of the functions mentioned in the advertisement above would otherwise have to be done by hand (though it remains true that the last function, «ΣΤΕΓΝΩΝΕΙ», would not be fully substituted). Overall, however, the “Amalia-type” would “attend” to the tangible fact that much energy and time could be saved through such “technical functions”: the saving of such energy and time would constitute a necessary precondition for her own “freedom” (and as she would forge her own understanding of such “freedom”).

For those who, in the early-1960’s, could not as yet afford to buy a washing machine for their homes, advertisements would inform them of the existence of dry cleaning services – such services would especially be used for clothes to be worn on special occasions – we know that since the 1920’s and right up to the 1960’s «η τσάκιση είχε μεγάλη σημασία» (cf. madeincreta.gr). Dry cleaners were operating even as early as 1928 in Iraklion, Crete (ibid.), but would become accessible to the masses both in Athens and the “peripheries” from the 1950’s and through to the 1960’s and on. Especially when that very special «τσάκιση» had to be accomplished for male clothes, housewives could simply let such shops do the job for them. It was precisely such ‘service’ of meticulous cleaning and ironing that the following advertisement would promote in 1959-1960:

«ΤΑ ΧΙΟΝΙΑ ΤΩΝ ΑΛΠΕΩΝ
ΚΑΙ ΤΟΥ ΟΛΥΜΠΟΥ
ΔΕΝ ΘΑ ΣΥΓΚΡΙΝΟΝΤΑΙ
ΣΤΗΝ ΑΣΠΡΑΔΑ
ΜΕ ΤΑ ΡΟΥΧΑ ΣΑΣ
ΑΝ ΤΑ ΕΜΠΙΣΤΕΥΘΗΤΕ
ΣΤΑ
ΠΛΥΝΤΗΡΙΑ
“ΤΑ ΧΙΟΝΑΤΑ”
ΦΡΟΣΩΣ ΧΡ. ΜΥΛΟΝΑΚΟΥ
ΔΑΒΑΚΗ 51…
ΕΡΓΑΣΙΑ ΕΠΙΜΕΛΗΜΕΝΗ
ΥΓΙΕΙΝΗ ΕΞΑΣΦΑΛΙΣΙΣ
ΚΑΙ
ΤΙΜΑΙ ΥΠΕΡΛΟΓΙΚΑΙ»
(cf. Christos Papazoglou (Ed.), Η Καλλιθέα του
 χθες και του σήμερα [Kallithea of Yesterday and Today, Έκδοση Εφημερίδας
 Έρευνα Καλλιθέας), Kallithea, 2000, p. 333,
their emph.).

Perhaps a much more important home appliance than the energy-saving washing machine was the refrigerator. In his 1974 Άνθρωποι (op. cit.), Tsiforos uses irony to try capture what the purchasing of a fridge would have meant to a Greek housewife in the 1960’s/early-1970’s period – he writes:

«… παρήγγειλε και ψυγείο καινούργιο.
Μικρό. Η δόση δρχ. 350… Εκεί μέσα
 τοποθέτησε τα όνειρά της…» (p. 262,
my emph.).

To suggest that the buying of a small fridge would lead a housewife to placing her ‘dreams’ therein seems like a sarcastic exaggeration. But if one considers what the “average” Greek home had thus far been using to preserve its foods, one could understand what Tsiforos is in fact getting at: very many homes, and right through to at least the mid-1960’s, had been using a «παγωνιέρα» for such purpose. This rather primitive ‘appliance’ was a fairly simple wooden box (albeit reinforced by insulation) wherein people would place a largish block of ice at its base – the ice-block usually being delivered to the house early in the morning (left on the doorstep) by people whose job it was to ‘manufacture’ such blocks of ice (cf., for instance, Giannis Xanthoulis, Το πεθαμένο λικέρ, Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, 1987, p. 55, where the use of the «παγωνιέρα» is referred to as a matter-of-fact reality in 1958).

Keeping such grim realities in mind (‘grim’, if one contrasts this to what was happening in parts of Europe and the USA at the time), one would conclude that the act of «Εκεί μέσα τοποθέτησε τα όνειρά της» was in fact a very logical response on the part of a Greek housewife who had just managed to buy herself a small electrically-powered fridge. It is, therefore, a historical fact of the period that ‘The Fridge’ had come to constitute a “Dream-object” that asked of the dreaming-subject to turn it into a “Reality”. Thus, by extension, we may say that to fully understand that “New Transitional Type” (of which the “Amalia-type” was a part), we shall need to as much understand how that “type” would relate to the new, electrically-powered fridge as a home appliance (or to such fridge as an image in an advertisement). For the young working Amalia, such relationship can best be described as an unreachable “Dream” that persistently urged her to make it unfold into a reachable “Reality”. It was not merely the necessary functions of such appliance that would constitute such “Dream”, and it was not merely its ‘aesthetic’ position within the household that mattered: both ‘technical functions’ and ‘aesthetics’ would compose a whole “Dream-image” that would dangle in her mind as would a pendulum. Such pendulum would, at times, smash itself against the rocks of the economically ‘unreachable’; at other times – or even simultaneously – it would smash itself against the rocks of a practical necessity for such device. Given the first opportunity – i.e. economic capacity (the installment of 350 drch.) – the “Dream” would become a “Reality”, and thus become an organic and irreversible part of Amalia’s everyday life. Above, we have referred to the case of the Aliartian barber and how, despite his hard work, he had never managed to buy a fridge for his family by 1963 – on setting foot in South Africa, his wife’s first “Dream”-demand was nothing else but that of buying an electric fridge (and which was of course very soon met).

Now, it was precisely this reality which we have been describing that would be inscribed in the positive material content of advertizing discourse promoting fridges at the time. We may here consider a representative advertisement which appeared in the weekly newspaper Paneuvoikon Vima [Πανευβοϊκόν Βήμα] in December 1965:

«Το όνειρο της δροσιάς! –
Το όνειρο κάθε γυναίκας! –
ΗΛΕΚΤΡΙΚΟ ΨΥΓΕΙΟ ΚΕLVINATOR –
Τέλειο σε όλα! – και με στιγμιαία απόψυξι (σε 1 λεπτό)! –
Πολυτελής εξωτερική εμφάνισις, γερή αθάνατη
κατασκευή, θάλαμος από STYRON, έξυπνη εκμετάλλευσις
εσωτερικού χώρου, ισχυρό ψυκτικό μηχάνημα,
μαγνητική πόρτα, αθόρυβη λειτουργία, και το
οικονομικώτερο σε κατανάλωση. – ΕΥΚΟΛΙΑΙ
ΠΛΗΡΩΜΗΣ…» (cf.  Paneuvoikon Vima,
25.12.1965, p. 2).

At first sight, one would say that the above advertisement is merely a run-of-the-mill sample of the type that tries to “manipulate” consumers with highfaluting promises about the product. And yet, on closer inspection, and keeping in mind what we have said above as regards the fridge as a logically-explainable “Dream-object” in the 1960’s, we realize that the discourse of such advertisement is organized around a positive material content meant to fulfill the real and logical needs of an “Amalia-type”. Such content, pointing to the necessary ‘technical functions’ and to the as necessary ‘aesthetics’, is composed of the following interrelated discourse concepts:

  • the fridge as a “Dream” («Το όνειρο…»);
  • such “Dream” possesses real technological perfections («Τέλειο σε όλα») – and these were perfections as such at that stage of technological development;
  • such real ‘technical functions’ went hand-in-hand with a real ‘aesthetical’ luxury («Πολυτελής…»);
  • such real “Dream” was economical to use («οικονομικώτερο σε κατανάλωση») and fairly easy to buy («ΕΥΚΟΛΙΑΙ ΠΛΗΡΩΜΗΣ»), and thus could constitute a reachable “Dream”.

Yet another advertisement promoting fridges, this time published in the daily  Apogevmatini, and also in December 1965, read as follows:

«SINGER – SLIM LINE – ΤΟ ΚΟΜΨΟΤΕΡΟ ΨΥΓΕΙΟ

  • Πολυτελέστατη εμφάνισις
  • Μεγίστη ψύξις εις ελάχιστον χρόνον
  • Κινητά ράφια
  • Αρίστη μόνωσις
  • Μαγνητική αεροστεγής πόρτα
  • Διπλή ψύξις
  • Αυτόματος απόψυξις
  • Ειδικόν σύστημα κυκλοφορίας του αέρος εις το εσωτερικόν

…SINGER – ΤΟ ΣΗΜΑ ΤΗΣ ΕΜΠΙΣΤΟΣΥΝΗΣ»
(cf. Apogevmatini, 13.12.1965, p. 8).

Here we have yet another excellent example of an advertisement which, while placing much emphasis on the question of “luxury”, nonetheless goes on to enumerate the series of practical functionalities which the particular fridge offers, and which constitutes the hard core of the positive material content of this advertizing discourse. What it enumerates, in other words, is an objective reflection of the real technological progress being “democratized” at the time and which facilitated the lessening of physical exertion amongst the popular masses, and which was also conducive to the general upgrading of the material conditions of life amongst the “average Greek” (such as the “Amalia-type”).

The positive material content of advertizing discourse at the time would take yet another and as important, form: apart from informing people about the new technology, it would also practically facilitate the movement from the old and “primitive” to the new and “modern”. As regards fridges in particular, advertisements would actually help great numbers of people to give up their wooden «παγωνιέρα» and buy themselves an electric fridge. Such facilitation of the renewal of household appliances, and especially as regards the fridge, is clearly evident in the following Apogevmatini advertisement of 1965, and which is only a representative sample of that type of advertisement in the decade of the 1960’s:

«ΜΗΝ ΚΟΥΡΑΖΕΣΘΕ ΑΔΙΚΑ. Για ηλεκτρικό ΨΥΓΕΙΟ…
ΕΛΑΤΕ αμέσως στα ΓΝΩΣΤΑ καταστήματα 74 ΑΧΑΡΝΩΝ
… Είναι τόσες οι ΕΥΚΟΛΙΕΣ που ΘΑ ΣΑΣ κάνουμε, που
δεν θα πρέπει ούτε στιγμή να μείνετε χωρίς ΗΛΕΚΤΡΙΚΟ
ΨΥΓΕΙΟ. ΠΟΙΟΤΗΣ ΚΑΤΑΠΛΗΚΤΙΚΗ… ΕΧΕΤΕ ΠΑΛΑΙΟ
ΨΥΓΕΙΟ; Ηλεκτρικό ή Πάγου, ΘΕΛΕΤΕ Ν’ ΑΠΟΚΤΗΣΕΤΕ
το τελευταίο ΜΟΔΕΛΟ;… Επισκεφθήτε μας προς το
συμφέρον σας… ΟΣΟ ΚΟΣΤΙΖΕΙ Ο ΠΑΓΟΣ και η δόσις
του ξύλινου ΨΥΓΕΙΟΥ ΣΑΣ ΠΡΟΣΦΕΡΟΜΕΝ ένα
ωραιότατο ΗΛ. ΨΥΓΕΙΟ… Όλος ο κόσμος τόμαθε –
Όλος ο κόσμος ξεύρη. Πως. Το ηλεκτρικό ΨΥΓΕΙΟ του.
Στην ΑΧΑΡΝΩΝ θα εύρη… ΟΙ ΜΙΜΗΤΑΙ ΜΑΣ είναι
πολλοί, αλλά μόνον ΕΜΕΙΣ ΑΝΤΑΛΛΑΣΣΟΜΕΝ τα
παλαιά σας ΨΥΓΕΙΑ…, αγοράζοντας τα ιδικά σας σε
τιμές απίστευτα υψηλές… ΠΑΡΤΕ ΤΑΞΙ με έξοδά μας
κι’ ελάτε στάς εκθέσεις μας…» (cf. Apogevmatini,
14.12.1965, p. 7, their emph. throughout).

This rather long and crudely-written advertisement appeared in the ‘small ads’ pages of the newspaper, but was repeated therein in a variety of versions, thus taking up most of the space of these pages. It would be published almost on a daily basis both in Apogevmatini and in various other publications – thus indicating the mass spread of its message amongst the popular masses. It is as important to note that similar types of advertisements (suggesting similar types of transactions) were of course also being published by other firms apart from «74 ΑΧΑΡΝΩΝ», and as that is revealed by the latter’s warning that «ΟΙ ΜΙΜΗΤΕΣ ΜΑΣ είναι πολλοί». As mentioned, all such advertisements would actively facilitate the progress from the use of blocks of ice to the electrically-powered fridges – they would facilitate the withdrawal of the “primitive” and allow for technological renewal. As in the case of the above advertisement, most would point to the fact that there would be little difference in cost between possessing the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ («ΟΣΟ ΚΟΣΤΙΖΕΙ Ο ΠΑΓΟΣ και η δόσις του ξύλινου…»), and would offer to buy the ‘old’ («ΕΜΕΙΣ ΑΝΤΑΛΛΑΣΣΟΜΕΝ τα παλαιά σας ΨΥΓΕΙΑ… αγοράζοντας τα ιδικά σας σε τιμές απίστευτα υψηλές…»). As we shall further see below in discussing other household appliances, what we have here was a generalized offer to renew things – and this, of course, reflects precisely what Panagiotopoulos had written in 1977 (op. cit.), observing that dominant practice amongst the “average Greek” «… ν’ ανανεώνει… τα σκεύη του…».

Another advertisement of this type would be much more specific as to the amount of cash the firm was prepared to offer for the buying back of “primitive” fridges still in use – we read:

«ΑΓΟΡΑΖΟΜΕΝ τα παλαιά ΨΥΓΕΙΑ του πάγου
ΜΕΤΡΗΤΟΙΣ 1.000 δραχ. έκαστον και σας προσφέρομε
ΨΥΓΕΙΑ ΗΛΕΚΤΡΙΚΑ όλων των εργοστασίων ΜΕ
ΠΟΛΛΕΣ ΑΤΟΚΕΣ ΜΗΝΙΑΙΕΣ ΔΟΣΕΙΣ και πενταετή
εγγύησιν…» (Apogevmatini, ibid.).

This is therefore yet a further example of advertisements facilitating the renewal of appliances and allowing for the purchase of new electric fridges through installments, etc. – as to the buying of the old, wooden fridges, this advertisement would further clarify:

«… όσο παλαιά και αν είναι…» (ibid.).

Finally, the following advertisement gives us some idea of the price of an electric fridge in the mid-1960’s:

«ΨΥΓΕΙΑ ΚΡΟΝΟΣ…
ΑΠΟ 165 Δρχ… ΤΟ ΜΗΝΑ...
6,5 Κ.Π. Δρχ. 6,100…
8,5 Κ.Π. Δρχ. 8,800…»
(cf. Apogevmatini, 6.10.1965, p. 6).

When Amalia Eleftheriadou would be officially hired as an «Υπάλληλος» at the A&M Headquarters by December 1966, we know she would be receiving a net daily wage of 65 drachmas; unless she did overtime work or worked on Saturdays, she would be earning a monthly income of 1.625 drachmas. Were she to have decided to buy a fridge for her family, she would know – based on the advertisement above – that of that 1.625 drachma earnings, 165 drachmas would have to be devoted to that fridge at the end of each month, reducing her monthly income to 1.460 drachmas – the ‘sacrifice’, it seems, must have been quite ‘manageable’, though we do not know what other economic needs and responsibilities beset her. Under fairly ‘normal’ conditions, and if Amalia would have decided to buy the less expensive 6,5 Κ.Π. fridge, it would have taken her about 3 years to settle all her bills for the purchase. Things would have been much easier if her family already possessed an old wooden fridge, which they could have withdrawn and made 1.000 drachmas by simply doing so – in that case, Amalia would have been able to settle all her bills in even less than 3 years. And things would have been still easier if family-members (like her brother and father) would combine part of their earnings so as to contribute to the buying of the 6,5 Κ.Π. electric fridge. What we are very simply suggesting is that the “Dream-fridge” was certainly a reachable “Reality” by the mid-1960’s, and that even as regards a badly-paid young female «Υπάλληλο». And the implication is that at least as regards the positive material content of advertisements promoting fridges – i.e. the technical functions of such appliances, the possibility of selling the “primitive” and buying the “modern”, and the real prices and conditions of sale of fridges –, all this had little to do with ‘false’ or “manipulated consciousness”: the material content of advertizing discourse directly reflected the real material conditions of life.

We may now examine the positive material content of advertizing discourse promoting the kitchen-stove of the period. We know that, next to doing the washing, Greek women also had to exert as much time and energy in doing the cooking for the family. Here, we simply note that social history should someday deal with the history of the cooking practices of the popular masses around the world (comparative studies would be invaluable in understanding such practices – social anthropologists have already contributed to such object of research, though mainly involving pre-capitalist societies). Greek social history, if it were ever to take off as a field of research, would also have to write of the history of the cooking practices of Greek women and trace the truly revolutionary ruptures in such practices as one compares how they did their cooking before and after the advent of the cooking-stove. Such rupture was inscribed in the positive material content of advertisements promoting this kitchen appliance in the 1960’s.

The daily newspaper Akropolis would, in November 1965, carry the following advertisement promoting the IZOLA [ΙΖΟΛΑ] kitchen-stove:

«ΝΕΕΣ ΚΟΥΖΙΝΕΣ ΙΖΟΛΑ… ΟΛΕΣ ΜΕ ΦΟΥΡΝΟ
… Με ΔΥΟ θερμοστατικές εστίες ταχείας
θερμάνσεως EGOWATT… Με μεγαλύτερο
φούρνο… Με δύο ταψιά εμαγιέ… Με ενδεικτικές
λυχνίες λειτουργίας εστιών… Με ηλεκτρική
σούβλα… Με χρονοδιακόπτη…»
(cf. Akropolis, 30.11.1965, p. 7).

This advertisement presents the Greek housewife with seven technical functions installed in the IZOLA kitchen-stove, and which presumably, put together, constitute the positive material content of its discourse – and which is therefore addressing itself to the practical needs of consumers. Now, it is very difficult for us to determine which of these “functions” would actually fulfill real practical needs, and which were merely ‘decorative’ dummies added so as to “manipulate” people into buying the product – these latter constituting some form of negative ‘material’ content. On the other hand, and as mentioned above, it would be the consumer himself who, in the last instance, would determine what ‘content’ would be ‘positive’ (truly helpful practical functions) and what would be ‘negative’ (useless little advertisement fibs) – in other words, the sheer usage of the appliance by the housewife herself would elucidate in verifiable practice what constituted “manipulation” and what not (that being the ultimate – though never absolute – ‘power’ of the “Amalia-type”). We in any case note that this particular IZOLA advertisement was definitely responding to the real needs of women to either cut down on time-consuming cooking practices, or to at least ‘manage’ the vital question of time involved in such practices – as to cutting down on time, we may note the function of «ταχείας θερμάνσεως»; as to time-management, we may further note the function of a «χρονοδιακόπτη».

Interestingly, advertizing discourse could go much further than simply enumerate the technical functions of a kitchen-stove: it would at times also dwell on the practical implications of such functions, and it would do so by describing the effect such functions would have on the everyday life of a woman, especially as regards the question of physical exertion and that of time-consumption. Here, advertizing discourse would narrate the lives of women who had chosen to make use of the particular appliance. Did such an approach constitute a “manipulation” of the imagination of women? Let us consider just such an advertisement which appeared in the Akropolis in 1965, and which was promoting the AEG kitchen-stove:

«Δεν την αλλάζω με καμμιά…
Γιατί έκανε διασκέδασι την φροντίδα του
μαγειρεύματος.
Γιατί μου έδιωξε κάθε σκοτούρα…
Γιατί με απήλλαξε από κάθε έγνοια και
συνεχή παρακολούθηση (Μαγειρεύει
μόνη της).
Γιατί λειτουργεί σταθερά και ασφαλώς.
Γιατί είναι… ευκολομεταχείριστη… AEG»
(cf. Akropolis 1.12.1965, p. 3, their
emph.).

This advertisement presents potential buyers with the supposedly very ‘human’ effects that the technological capacities of an AEG kitchen-stove would have on the life of its user – turns of phrases such as «έκανε διασκέδασι», «έδιωξε…», «απήλλαξε», etc., may easily be said to be emotionally-laden, highly subjective estimations of what technical functions can do to people and which may play psychological games on the imagination of an exhausted and frustrated Greek housewife. This, of course, seems to question the extent to which such advertizing discourse carries any positive material content worth considering. But such an interpretation of this advertizing discourse would be forgetting two vital factors which would determine the relationship between buyer and seller: firstly, the role of the buyer as a subject who is offered the opportunity to test whatever advertizing claims in practice; and secondly, the ability of such subject to compare and contrast her own cooking practices before and after the use of the AEG kitchen-stove. More accurately, and as regards the latter factor, the subject would be able to ‘measure’ her own experiences as cook in the past, when – as happened at Aliarto in the early-1960’s – she would have to laboriously light a fire invariably in her yard, fix a pot over it and tend to the cooking (or, at best, use “primitive” gas-stoves connected to gas-cylinders, or use that «παλιά γκαζιέρα πετρελαίου» of the 1950’s). And she would then instinctively go on to ‘measure’ such past in relation to her post-war present, when she would be able tο let the kitchen-stove, now naturally indoors, more or less do its own job («Μαγειρεύει μόνη της»), and without having to tend to it continuously (that «συνεχή παρακολούθηση»). Put in a nutshell, we may say that the experiential effects of the technological functions of the electric kitchen-stove as presented in the advertizing discourse could be compared with the experiential effects of such functions in real life – to the extent that elements of the advertizing discourse were exaggerating the experiential effects, the user was free to critically qualify the advertizing message empirically. Thus, positive material content would be differentiated from negative waffle, and which would help the consumer become more prudent when it came to his/her next purchase.

As in the case of fridges, so also with cooking appliances, there would be a generalized tendency to renew old gas-stoves with the new electric and/or “automatic” kitchen-stove. In 1965, the Apogevmatini would carry an advertisement promoting precisely such “robotic” nature of the new cooking appliance:

«Θέλετε ΚΟΥΖΙΝΑ ELCO ROBOT; Ελάτε –
ΑΧΑΡΝΩΝ 74…» (cf. Apogevmatini,
14.12.1965, p. 7).

And this advertisement would immediately go on to urge people to exchange whatever old cooking appliance they happened to possess for a new cooking “robot”. Apart from the real needs of people – and as these were determined by the historical context – this generalized and continual renewal of things, which we are saying characterized the period, went hand-in-hand with a continual technological development which continually renewed itself – many advertisements of the period would carry messages that went as follows:

«Όμως η αλήθεια είναι μία… ο εφευρέτης
[of whatever particular product] συνεχώς επί
30 χρόνια το βελτιώνει» (cf. Akropolis,
5.12.1965, p. 4).

As to why developments in technology per se would be such as to continually renew itself – and thus finally ‘force’ even the Greek consumer to get rid of old appliances – a French analyst, Serge Antonioli, writing in a 1979 issue of Δελτίον ΣΕΒ, would explain as follows:

«… η τεχνολογία που κυριολεκτικά “καλπάζει” σε
κατακτήσεις, [το αγαθό που διαρκεί πολύ] το
απαξιώνει … λειτουργικά και επιβαρύνει με πρόσθετο
κόστος τη μακρά χρήση του» (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ,
No 411, 30.9.1979,
p. 28).

Such continual technological development, yielding a renewal of technology, and thus a continual renewal of things, would be persistently pointing to the possibility of substituting the housewife in toto – i.e. freeing the individual (such “individual” being the “triumph” of the post-war years, as Hobsbawm would put it) from the daily drudgery of work done in the kitchen. Consider the following advertisement promoting kitchen-stoves in the mid-1960’s:

«Πλήρης αυτοματισμός… με την
Φλαμίνα Σουπερμάτικ… Αυτόματος
έναρξις και διακοπή της λειτουργίας…
 Εκτελεί τις επιθυμίες σας με χρονομετρική
 ακρίβεια όταν εσείς απουσιάζετε. Ενεργεί
 μόνη της… Δεν κινδυνεύει να κάψη το
φαγητό χάρις στην αυτόματη εστία EGO,
 που σκέπτεται μόνη της και μαγειρεύει
 χωρίς επίβλεψη. Αυξομειώνει ή διακόπτει
το ρεύμα, δημιουργεί σταθερή θερμοκρασία,
εξοικονομεί ρεύμα… flamina Supermatic
ΠΙΤΣΟΣ…» (cf. Akropolis, 12.12. 1965,
p. 4, my emph.).

Concepts such as «όταν εσείς απουσιάζετε», «σκέπτεται μόνη» and «χωρίς επίβλεψη» – all of which are consummated in that “EGO” mechanism of the appliance – were essentially introducing Greek women to a continuum of possibilities whereby large chunks of their real time would be freed from material necessity, and which was till now restraining their minds and bodies around pots over open-air fires, or around “primitive” and at times rather dangerous gas-stoves attached to gas-cylinders, or around those wobbly «γκαζιέρες πετρελαίου» which continually demanded one’s constant attention. In fact, many women at Aliarto and in the villages of Thiva and Levadia would be literally terrified of the gas-cylinder and would often express their preference for the open-air fire – on the other hand, they well knew that doing their cooking in the yard would mean getting up very early in the morning and finishing their cooking-job by lunch-time (something which would in any case be practically impossible for women who entered the ranks of working people at, say, the Dourida, the Michaelidis, the IZOLA or the A&M plants). Working women such as the “Amalia-type”, and especially the married workers such as Maria Giannou at the A&M Mill, would ultimately have no choice but to buy an electric-powered kitchen-stove for their selves. But such an appliance would not merely facilitate their working as wage-labourers: its “robotic” functions would enable them to free themselves of much physical exertion outside work-hours – something which would prove especially invaluable to the young “Amalia-type”, and given the socio-cultural revolution of youth at the time.

Interestingly, the advertisement above would refer to the «αυτόματη εστία» of the “flamina Supermatic” asEGO – it was obviously insinuating that the “Amalia-type” would henceforth be able to possess a double ego: on the one hand, the “ego” of the flesh-and-blood Amalia Eleftheriadou would no longer have to be physically present in the kitchen while the cooking was taking place, and would no longer have to think about or even care-for what was happening therein. On the other hand, this selfsame Eleftheriadou would be the possessor of yet another “ego” well outside of her (as an individual), and which would –  independently of her person – act and think for her but by itself in fulfilling the job of cooking («Εκτελεί τις επιθυμίες σας… σκέπτεται μόνη της»). This promised double-ego, that of the person who is free to live and create, and that of the selfsame person who possesses the technical means to satisfy all material necessities, was of course never to be fully realized in the post-war period: the “Amalia-type”, whether as a wage-labourer or as a freelance professional, would in the majority of cases be faced by some ceiling delimiting her economic and consumer capacity, thus rendering such “Dream” of a double-ego veritably utopian. And yet, the 1960’s and 1970’s would constitute a time when the “Amalia-type” would be able to come to possess and use that «αυτόματη εστία EGO» in important dimensions of her everyday life – one such vital dimension being the practice of cooking. One would not, as Roupa (op. cit.) has pointed out, ever see the “abolition of the housewife” – but the ‘mediaeval’ conditions of life of the pre-war Greek woman-as-cook would be over once and for all.

To further examine positive material content in advertizing discourse at the time, we shall need to examine what Galbraith (op. cit.) had called “goods … related … to elementary physical sensation” – goods, in other words, which “protect against cold” and which, for him, had “come to comprise a small and diminishing part of production”. To understand the role of such goods in Greece – and their promotion through advertisements – we should perhaps first consider what weather conditions were like in Greece in the 1960’s and then consider such goods in such meteorological context. We are not at all suggesting that the weather conditions of Greece were in any way exceptional in comparison to, say, those of the USA – but we do need to keep in mind how those particular weather conditions would have affected the “average Greek” who was only just beginning to taste the fruits of technological modernity, and whose usual protection against the cold had been limited to the fireplace (as at Aliarto, especially in the early 1960’s).

Let us consider a number of typical winter months in the region of Boeotia and its environs in 1965. We note that temperatures in the area on October 10 ranged from a mild maximum of 24°C to a minimum of 14°C. By November 28, temperatures would drop to a maximum of 18°C and a minimum of 10°C. Then, by December 3, temperatures would continue to drop further to a maximum of 15°C and a minimum of 9°C. December 4 would see rainfalls throughout the area, and by December 8, while maximum temperatures would have risen slightly to 19°C, the minimum would drop to 5°C. But then, four days later on December 12, newspapers would be reporting the advent of a «ΣΦΟΔΡΟΤΑΤΗ ΚΑΚΟΚΑΙΡΙΑ» and people would be saying that real winter had set in, commenting on its rather late arrival. The Aegean would be beset with wind forces ranging from 32-38 M.P.H. (7 on the Beaufort scale) and even went on to a fresh gale of 39-46 M.P.H. (8 on the Beaufort scale) – with ships out at sea experiencing a variety of problems. By December 14, the minimum temperature would rise slightly to 6°C, but the maximum temperature would not exceed 10°C. Between December 15 and 17, maximum temperatures would range from 12°C to 13°C, but minimums would be stuck at 1°C. And then, by January 6, 1966, all hell would truly break loose: newspapers would be writing of a «Δριμύτατον ψύχος» throughout the country, with heavy snowfalls everywhere (including Athens). Temperatures would be freezing, being usually stuck at 0°C, and rarely raising their head to 6°C at the very most. By January 8 of that year, Boeotia itself would be receiving very heavy snowfalls, villages in the environs would be cut off from local centers, and the cold north winds would be scathing the faces of those workers who could still make it to factories such as that of Douridas, Michaelidis and Marakis. Temperatures on January 8 would start from 0°C and go well below freezing point. Such weather conditions would continue throughout that month with snowfalls and heavy storms in various parts of Boeotia – in fact temperatures would drop even further by January 28 and 29.

Now, it was directly to such real and harsh weather conditions that the advertizing industry would be responding – it would be such reality, in other words, which would ‘feed’ the positive material content of advertisements promoting heating appliances at that time of year. We have noted above that, by November 1965, temperatures would start to fall (from 24°C to 18°C maximum, etc.), and would thus inaugurate the gradual setting in of winter cold. It was absolutely natural for producers of heating appliances to have immediately grabbed the opportunity – exactly by November of that year – and advertized their goods to a freezing population, most of which – especially in places such as Aliarto – still had to depend on the burning of wood so as to warm themselves (use of fireplaces, or “primitive” «ξυλόσομπες» – the Aliartian barber would only be able to buy such «σόμπα» by early 1963). In November 1965, the Akropolis would carry the following advertisement:

«…ΚΙ’ ΕΣΕΙΣ ΔΑΜΑΣΤΕ ΤΟ ΚΡΥΟ… μια ζεστή
συντροφιά μέσα στον άγριο Χειμώνα
ΘΕΡΜΑΣΤΡΑ MASTER… ΤΕΛΕΙΑ ΕΙΔΗ ΓΙΑ ΤΕΛΕΙΟ
ΝΟΙΚΟΚΥΡΙΟ» (cf. Akropolis, 28.11.1965,
p. 6, my emph.).

Locating this particular advertisement within the time and place in which it was published, one realizes how deeply real it is in relation to the needs of such time and place: very simply, it quite spontaneously responds to the socio-climatic environment of which it is here an organic part («μέσα στον άγριο Χειμώνα…»). On the other hand, one cannot fail to notice that this advertisement also goes on to add to such real response that quite ‘ideologically’-laden phrase «ΓΙΑ ΤΕΛΕΙΟ ΝΟΙΚΟΚΥΡΙΟ», and which seems to want to play with the wishful thinking and the emotional world of women. But even such “manipulative” intentions should not be seen as a purely external ‘intervention” imposed haphazardly on housewives – as mentioned, the “Amalia-type” at least (and especially given her young age) would actually dream of a “perfect home” for her future family – in fact, even within conditions of poverty, housewives would nonetheless create their own cozy little “hub” which constituted a self-created space relatively autonomous of the harsh reality of life outside of it (cf. our paper on the Meletiou family, and which includes references to the literary work of Dimitris Hatzis on this issue). In any case, merely evoking images of the «ΤΕΛΕΙΟ» in such a discourse would be to reduce it to an ineffective empty shell were there to be an absence of its crux, which is its positive material content – such crux, of course, being the thing sold during a heavy winter-time to ward off the cold. We therefore have here some sort of balance between the real (the heater) and the only half-real (the “dream”).

We need to try and empathize with some Aliartian mother and her children crouching in front of a fireplace on that Saturday of 8th January, 1966, when heavy snow would begin to cover her little hovel of a place (which was once, as sometimes happened, used as a barn) and with temperatures at below zero – the question raised is how she would have most probably responded to the following advertisement which had continually been published in the pages of Apogevmatini at least since November 1965 and which went as follows:

«ΠΡΟΣΕΞΑΤΕ… ΚΑΤΑΠΛΗΚΤΙΚΗ ΕΥΚΑΙΡΙΑ…
ΘΕΡΜΑΣΤΡΕΣ – 10.000 ΘΕΡΜΙΔΩΝ –
ΕΥΡΩΠΑΪΚΟΥ ΤΥΠΟΥ ΜΕ ΚΑΥΣΤΗΡΑ ΚΑΙ
ΤΑΜΠΕΡ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ – ΜΟΝΟΝ ΔΡΧ. 1.950…»
(cf. Apogevmatini, 9.11.1965, p. 2).

Would the mother have focused her attention on the product’s “European” make or on its thermal capacity («10.000 ΘΕΡΜΙΔΩΝ») as such? Further, would she have dwelt on such “European” make or on that «ΜΟΝΟΝ ΔΡΧ. 1.950»? Any mother whose children are threatened by cold and whose husband is persistently working hard so as to make ends meet, would naturally have ‘bracketed’ all the “frills” of the advertisement and would have given that strategic word «ΜΟΝΟN…» her “closest thought and attention” – what would have directly concerned her, in other words, would be material matters involving palpable things such as the need for cash and the need to deal with cold. Here, specific material conditions of a meteorological nature – as also of a clearly economic one – would have called for a very specific response on her part, and the positive material content of this advertisement (thermal capacity and cash needed) would have counter-responded to the questions posed by the mother’s “thought and attention”. The immediate conclusion one may jump to is what we have referred to as the ‘bracketing’, on the part of the consumer, of whatever “manipulative frills” in the discourse, and which would have made the impact of such “frills” to simply ‘fade away’. And yet, and as in the case of the «ΘΕΡΜΑΣΤΡΑ MASTER» advertisement above, such ‘bracketing’ would never be total and the advertizing company would not be haphazardly throwing any alien concept right in the face of the Aliartian mother. If, as we have said, the “Amalia-type” would dream of a «ΤΕΛΕΙΟ» home of her own, she would also – as would the “average Greek” – be harbouring a “European Dream” of sorts (at least as regards life-standards), and thus the reference to the «ΕΥΡΩΠΑΪΚΟΥ ΤΥΠΟΥ» cannot possibly be reduced to a mere “manipulative frill” aimed at disorientation. We would therefore again have here some degree of balance between, on the one hand, the heater, its thermal capacity and its price, and on the other, the “Euro-dream”. For that mother on that Saturday of early January 1966, it would be the material conditions of cold that would make her tilt her “thought and attention” towards the former and not much to the latter side of the scale (a balancing mechanism would be facilitating precisely such free play). The advertizing industry was truly ‘communicating’ with her, but just as she was with it, for it would be she who would be ultimately determining the specific tilt of the balance.

Speaking of people’s “close thought and attention” devoted to the question of the need for cash so as to deal with the cold, we may here briefly consider real consumer capacity to actually buy electrically-powered heaters. A January 1966 advertisement would make the following announcement:

«Ελάτε να σας ΖΕΣΤΑΝΟΥΜΕ… με τη μεγαλύτερη
ποικιλία θερμαστρών… από 100 δρχ. μηνιαίως…
ΠΟΛΛΕΣ ΔΟΣΕΙΣ…» (cf. Apogevmatini,
5.1.1966, p. 7).

Were Amalia Eleftheriadou to have decided to pick and choose whatever heater she wanted from the variety mentioned in the above advertisement, and given her daily earnings of 65 drachmas at the time, she would have to work, roughly speaking, about one and a half days per month at the A&M Mill Headquarters so as to be able to pay that installment of 100 drachmas. And were she to have also decided to buy a fridge with an installment of 165 drachmas per month, she would have to devote about four of her 25 work-days per month to settle her dues for both appliances. Despite the relatively hard material conditions of the 1960’s, therefore, things promised by advertisements would be relatively reachable. And we can say this with some certainty as we bear in mind that, with specific reference to the early-1960’s, the current “Dreams” even of the youthful “Amalia-type” were, in the last instance and with respect to material matters, realistic dreams. The “realism” of people right after the end of the Civil War and for some years on is brought to our attention by an interesting little booklet published in 1950 by the «ΣΥΛΛΟΓΟΣ ΤΟ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟΝ ΦΩΣ» [The Greek Light Association] and entitled Για μια καινούργια Ελλάδα» [For a new Greece]. Speaking of what it called «Το δεύτερο όνειρο» [“The Second Dream”] (and which concerned the amelioration of material conditions), it would say this as regards the wishes of the Greek people:

«Ονειρεύεται τώρα μιάν Ελλάδα άξια…
Και βολικός άνθρωπος καθώς είναι, δεν
έχει μεγάλες απαιτήσεις, ούτε καν στο
όνειρό του. Δεν ζητά από την Ελλάδα να
γίνη από την μια στιγμή στην άλλη παράδεισος.
Δεν ζητά κρεμαστούς κήπους, αλλά λίγα
απλά πράγματα» (p. 8).

That the “average Greek” at that particular period of time harboured “realistic dreams” only apparently contradicts what we have identified as the “Amalia-type’s” wish for the «ΤΕΛΕΙΟ» (be that a fridge, a sitting room or a husband). An Amalia Eleftheriadou was both “frenzied” enough as a youth (as regards, for instance, her sexuality), and “realistic” enough as a working person, to set herself manageable goals for her short-term present and long-term goals for that «ΤΕΛΕΙΟ» in her looming future. That ability to be both a “realistic” and a “utopian” “Dreamer” was precisely symptomatic of what we have identified as her transitional nature as a “New Type”. Thus, she could both compromise with the ‘grandiose’ messages of advertisements in her short-term present (thus remaining indifferent to them) and fight for the realization of such very messages in long-term manageable units of the ‘reachable’ in what was being promised (one may assume that the older generations were themselves perhaps more of that «βολικός άνθρωπος» centered around more short-term goals). Thus, both the “Amalia-type” and that youngish mother with her freezing kids in that winter of 1966 would have certainly focused their attention on advertized heaters to warm their bones there and then, and would have eyed that reference to the “European” as a more long-term target. Unlike the particular mother, however – who had to take care of her two kids and let her husband be the sole breadwinner – Amalia Eleftheriadou was in some way more privileged: being single and belonging to a family with two other working members (father and brother), they could all three have pooled their resources and bought their family both a fridge and a heater right at the same time. We have noted that installments for household appliances could range from minimums such as 165 drachmas to 100 drachmas and, in the absence of any other serious emergency expenses, even Amalia’s meager income would be enough to allow her to venture into such purchases. As regards the question of pooling incomes within family units, we may simply note here that this was a very common practice at the time: we have seen such pooling practices in examining the case of the Meletiou family (op. cit.), and which is also evident in literature referring to the 1960’s – one example of this is Loula Didika’s little novel, entitled Τα ανθρώπινα κουρέλια [Human rags], published in Athens in 1963, and which describes the pooling of family resources as follows:

«Μάνα, πατέρας, και δυο αγόρια δούλευαν
όλοι και μάζευαν κάθε Σάββατο το μεροκάματο,
αλλουνού μεγάλο κι’ αλλουνού μικρό. Όμως όλα
τα κανόνισαν τόσο νοικοκυρεμένα, που έβαζαν
κάτι και στην πάντα… – Για να πάρουμε ένα
οικοπεδάκι, όπως έλεγαν… Από τώρα σκέπτονται
την προίκα που θα δώσουν μια μέρα στο
στερνοπούλι τους, που είναι κοριτσάκι» (p. 39).

This state of affairs, we should say, characterized large numbers of the “average Greek family” amongst the popular masses, and allows us to understand how it would be possible for even “poor” Aliartian families – such as that of Amalia – to at some point attain a certain consumer capacity to enable them to finally buy (and at times even renew) electric appliances for their home.

Still on the question of heating, we shall need to emphasize the primary importance that Greek parents would place on the matter of keeping warm, especially when it came to their children. We have already pointed above to that almost psychotic obsession, on the part of the 1960’s Greek parents, to feed (or even over-feed) their children, and which was a direct psychological consequence of that «τρομερόν χειμώνα» of 1941-2. Similarly, and very naturally so, the Greek parent would almost automatically connect whatever harsh winter-period of the 1950’s and 1960’s to that tragic winter. Thus, that almost psychotic obsession with food always went hand-in-hand with that as persistent obsession to protect children from the cold. The Aliartian barber would remember how, as a youth in the 1940’s, he always had to don whole sets of clothes, one set on top of the other, whenever he had to go out, and which would keep him from moving freely. His mother, he would muse, would actually force this on him, covering up his body with layers of clothing «σαν κρεμμύδι». And this could even more or less apply to when he was indoors and had to limit his movements around the warmth of the fireplace. Directly related to this, we may here quote a text published in the periodical Romantso (τεύχ. 1248, 31.1.1967, p. 24), and entitled «Το κρύο άλλοτε και τώρα». Amongst other observations, it states:

«Έτσι, δεν μπορούμε, να καταλάβουμε γενικώς
τα βάσανα του χειμώνα προπολεμικώς.
Στα σπίτια τρέμαμε, σαν κολασμένοι,
και πολλές νύχτες κοιμόμασταν ντυμένοι».

Now, this generalized obsession to ward off the cold at all costs would continue through to the 1960’s and even the 1970’s – advertizing companies had of course full knowledge of such real obsession and would ‘tap’ it by promoting a variety of products the central function of which was to keep people as warm as possible. One could of course say that advertizing discourse in this case was exploiting such mass popular ‘weakness’ – and yet, one would also have to acknowledge that advertisers were not themselves ‘manufacturing’ such obsessive need for warmth. Thus, the content of such discourse would essentially be of the “positive material” type, responding as it was to a pre-given reality. One such advertisement, published in December 1965, would promote a blanket with, inter alia, special heating-powers – it read as follows:

 «… απ’ αυτόν τον χειμώνα… κουβέρτες CRYLOR
 … μια Νέα δημιουργία χωρίς προηγούμενο…
 Όλες οι κουβέρτες ζεσταίνουν… η CRYLOR –
 ανάλαφρη και απαλή – ζεσταίνει περισσότερο
… Όλες οι κουβέρτες πλένονται, αλλά πώς
γίνονται… Η CRYLOR πλένεται εύκολα στο
ηλεκτρικό σας πλυντήριο, στεγνώνει αμέσως
και γίνεται καινούργια… Η κουβέρτα CRYLOR,
λουσάτη και απρόσβλητη απ’ τον σκώρο, διαθέτει
και το ακαταμάχητο πλεονέκτημα – χάρις στην
ειδική τεχνική επεξεργασία – ΝΑ ΜΗΝ ΜΑΔΑΗ
ΚΑΙ ΝΑ ΜΗΝ ΧΝΟΥΔΙΑΖΗ… Για το σύγχρονο σπίτι…»
(cf. Akropolis, 5.12.1965, p. 4, my emph.).

This advertisement presented the consumer with a whole list of ‘special’ qualities which would presumably make the particular blanket – which was of French make – superior in comparison with others. But what is of interest here is that the creator of this advertizing discourse, being aware of the Greek ‘weakness’ to keep as warm as possible, places the question of warmth right at the top of the list of the various ‘special’ qualities of the product. Such strategically-placed message was obviously meant to immediately attract the attention of Greeks at a time of year, December, when temperatures would be dropping to 9°C, and then to 5°C, then down to 1°C, and which would yield that «ΣΦΟΔΡΟΤΑΤΗ ΚΑΚΟΚΑΙΡΙΑ» we have noted above.

It would be quite wrong to assume that this CRYLOR advertisement constituted an isolated case – we shall present two further samples of that type of advertizing discourse which directly reflected both the socio-climatic conditions of Greece in the 1960’s as also the pre-given mass obsessive need to be protected from the cold. Again in December 1965, we could see an advertisement such as the following:

«Η ΑΤΟΜΙΚΗ ΣΑΣ ΚΕΝΤΡΙΚΗ ΘΕΡΜΑΝΣΙ…
ΑΝΔΡΙΚΑ ΚΑΙ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΕΙΑ ΕΣΩΡΟΥΧΑ –
THERMOFAN (ΘΕΡΜΟΦΑΝ)… Δημιουργούν
ένα θερμό στρώμα αέρος, που απομονώνει
το κρύο και την υγρασία…»
(cf. Akropolis, 8.12.1965, p. 5).

In the winter of 1964, the periodical Romantso would run the following advertisement:

«ΠΡΟΦΥΛΑΧΘΗΤΕ ΑΠ’ ΤΟΝ ΧΕΙΜΩΝΑ…
Κλείστε τον έξω από το σπίτι
με ΤΕΖΑΜΟΛ
Στις πόρτες, τα παράθυρα
τοποθετήστε Τεζαμόλ.
Το Τεζαμόλ
είναι σπογγώδης ταινία που
κολλά αυτομάτως με ελαφρά πίεσι.
Έτσι εμποδίζει τον παγωμένο αέρα
και την υγρασία να μπαίνουν μέσα.
Χρησιμοποιήστε το αμέσως!...»
(cf. Romantso, No 1138,
22.12.1964, p. 45).

We may next consider the question of advertizing promoting furniture: the positive material content of advertizing discourse promoting various pieces of furniture would take its own very specific form: unlike the household appliances we have thus far examined, furniture does not of course directly involve questions of saving on time and energy, of preserving food-stocks or of protecting the body from the cold. In other words, whatever positive material content in advertisements promoting furniture would not place much emphasis on the technical functionality of an artifact (though that too could also be addressed at times) – two factors were to play a central role in the crux of ‘positive content’ here: first, simply informing people who still used home-made, “primitive” furniture of the cheap availability of technologically manufactured tables and chairs (that is, urging them to go beyond the low «σοφρά» and beyond tree-trunks, etc.); second, and most important for those who were already moving beyond the primary stage of the “primitive”, introducing people to the new ‘aesthetics’ of household furniture. But when we speak of an ‘introduction’ to ‘aesthetics’ we do not mean it in the sense of an imposed “manipulation” of mass taste so that people buy useless “luxuries” – as already suggested above, mass ‘aesthetic taste’ and the desire for so-called “luxuries” was part and parcel of what we have identified as the historically-determined middle-class milieu. At least as regards furniture, therefore, ‘aesthetic taste’ constituted a real and palpable psycho-somatic relation to particular objects of furniture – and advertizing discourse had no choice but to promote that. Such psycho-somatic relationship to the “modern” ‘aesthetic taste’ – as that was inscribed in furniture – was a self-defining characteristic of the middle class milieu and was or had to be reflected in the positive material content of 1960’s/1970’s discourse – it was precisely this reflection which constituted the very specific form of advertizing discourse when it came to pieces of furniture.

To give us some idea of the ‘aesthetics’ inscribed in furniture – and as this was expressed in advertizing discourse – we present here an excellent sample published in 1974 in the weekly periodical Epikaira (and a section of which we have elsewhere used in discussing the ‘mechanization’ of Greek society) – the full advertisement read as follows:

«πολύτιμα έπιπλα από μέταλλο και ξύλο…
Ένας αιώνας πείρα
στην κατεργασία του ξύλου
μας οδήγησε σε νέες λύσεις για
την αισθητική αξιοποίηση του μετάλλου.
Έτσι ξαναδώσαμε στο δύσκολο αυτό υλικό
την χαμένη του ευγένεια.
Δημιουργώντας στα μέτρα του ανθρώπου:
σε μια εποχή που όλοι βιομηχανοποιούν,
εμείς προσωποποιούμε.
ΒΑΡΑΓΚΗΣ» (cf. Epikaira, No 322,
3-9.10.1974, p. 2, my emph.).

We are suggesting that the middle class milieu would define itself as such through its relationship with the ‘aesthetics’ of the new furniture designs – the «ΒΑΡΑΓΚΗΣ» advertisement tries to materialize just such relationship: the manufacturers would inscribe an «αισθητική» and an «ευγένεια» into the furniture which would be reflected in the person using such objects («προσωποποιούμε»). We well know, of course, that what the period was really all about was the mass manufacturing of artifacts (the advertizing discourse would itself admit that reality– «όλοι βιομηχανοποιούν») – but what we need to understand about the ‘aesthetics’ of the period – an important issue brilliantly analyzed by Hobsbawm (cf. his  The Age of Extremes, op. cit., esp. sections IX, X and XI) and to which we shall return below – is that there was an interplay of two forces in the 1960’s and 1970’s:

  • Whatever manufactured object would be mass produced precisely as that production would fulfill the needs and tastes of a new mass category of people – i.e. that new social category constituting the “New Amalia-Type”. Put otherwise, the new ‘aesthetic taste’ could only but have been collective just as the new middle class milieu, being a milieu, was itself a collective phenomenon.
  • However, and right at the same time, each and every individual participating within such a milieu would also see – and relish in – the triumph of his own person, picking and choosing artifacts from an increasingly wide range of designs which he would feel expressed his own supreme individuality – that, of course, is exactly what the «ΒΑΡΑΓΚΗΣ» advertizing discourse was getting at with its emphasis on «προσωποποιούμε» (and we have already noted the emphasis placed on the “EGO” in examining the purely technical functions of the flamina Supermatic kitchen-stove above). On this question of individual expression through the ‘aesthetics’ of a particular product, we should perhaps note that this was to take almost unheard of proportions by the early-1980’s. And to further understand how the early post-war  ‘aesthetics’ in artifacts and their advertizing discourse would in fact express the individual of the middle class milieu then, it would be useful to briefly dwell on the end-product of this process in its latter, more mature stage: the 1980’s explain the 1960’s («Δεν είναι η ανατομία του πιθήκου που εξηγεί την ανατομία του ανθρώπου, αλλά η ανατομία του ανθρώπου που εξηγεί εκείνην του πιθήκου», as Louis Althusser would point out – following Marx – in his «Το μέλλον διαρκεί πολύ», Ο Πολίτης, 1992, p. 244). One contemporary study dwelling on the question of consumerism in the 1980’s is that of Wolfgang Streeck, who makes the following observations:

“By the 1980’s, accelerated product design … made
it possible to customize … commodities … to an
unprecedented extent, subdividing the large and
uniform product runs of industrial mass production
into ever-smaller series of differentiated sub-products,
in an effort to get closer to the idiosyncratic preferences
of ever-smaller groups of potential customers…
Product differentiation matched manufactured
goods … more closely to individual consumers’
particular utility functions. At the same time, it enabled
and encouraged consumers to refine that function, by
developing or paying more attention to their individual
wants, on top of the common needs served by
standardized products” (cf. W. Streeck, “Citizens As
Customers”, NLR, 76, JULY-AUG 2012, p. 31).

We may therefore conclude that the post-war ‘aesthetics’ inscribed in commodities such as furniture would commence a process which would ultimately yield at least a relative convergence between the cultural-aesthetic practices and/or “idiosyncratic preferences” of the middle classes and the positive material content of advertizing discourse: such content would come to be much determined by the supremacy of the middle class individual, and that would also apply to the case of Greece in the 1980’s. The 1960’s would be the progenitor to such process: what has been referred to as the “diversified quality production” (ibid.) of the 1980’s was a consequence of the fact that, gradually through the years following the 1960’s decade, a certain market saturation would be reached in the variety and range of so-called ‘standard products’ (that there was such variety/range in the 1960’s, at least in the Greek case, was ensured by the existence of competitive manufacturing capital).

What specific form would furniture ‘aesthetics’ take in the 1960’s and early-1970’s? Again, there would be a variety of forms and their range would also be determined by their price. Here, we shall merely consider one such form which, while basically for the higher “wage-brackets”, would nonetheless appeal to the young and its particular style would be popular enough to be reproduced in cheaper varieties. The Epikaira would carry the following advertisement in 1974:

«Το έπιπλο είναι αυτό που δίνει την προσωπικότητα
σε ένα σπίτι. Σήμερα ο άνθρωπος προσπαθεί να
αποφύγη την λεγομένη “βαρειά” ατμόσφαιρα και
να βρεθή σε ένα περιβάλλον χαρούμενο και νεανικό.
… Αυτό ακριβώς συνειδητοποίησε η “URETHANE HELLAS”,
η οποία στο άριστα εξοπλισμένο εργοστάσιό της,
κατασκευάζει έπιπλα πραγματικά για νέους ανθρώπους.
… Οι άνθρωποι της εποχής μας, που συνδυάζουν το
μοντέρνο με το απλό, οι σύγχρονοι άνθρωποι,
ενθουσιάζονται κυριολεκτικά με τα σύνθετα έπιπλα
από πολυουρεθάνη, που κατασκευάζει η “URETHANE
HELLAS” και τα οποία αποθαυμάζουν στην Μητροπόλεως
85. Δίκαια άλλωστε, διότι τα έπιπλά της, που τα χαρακτηρίζει
η κομψότητα και τα οποία φέρουν την σφραγίδα του
μοντέρνου, είναι κατάλληλα για πολλές χρήσεις… Κομψά
σύνολα για χώλ, σαλόνι …[etc.]…, δίνουν μια χαρούμενη
νότα στο περιβάλλον και την αίσθηση του ωραίου, που μόνον
η “URETHANE HELLAS” μπορεί να χαρίση σε ένα σύγχρονο
σπίτι…» (cf. Epikaira, op. cit., p. 7).

This advertisement helps to give us some idea of the aesthetic material content of advertizing discourse promoting furniture and as that was materialized in the real artifact – and it is especially useful since, being published in the early-1970’s, it represents a final consummation of styles as these had first sprouted in the decade of the 1960’s. A closer reading of it allows us to draw the following conclusions with respect to the question of ‘aesthetics’:

  1. As we have seen with the «ΒΑΡΑΓΚΗΣ» advertisement above, which places an emphasis on «προσωποποιούμε» and which had allowed us to draw certain conclusions about the role of the middle class milieu of supreme individuality – so here too, we see that the «URETHANE HELLAS» advertisement itself sees ‘aesthetics’ as a value which brings the individual person to the forefront – here, this happens by giving an individual’s own home its special  «προσωπικότητα» through particularly designed pieces of furniture.
  2. It further relates ‘aesthetics’ to youth: «έπιπλα πραγματικά για νέους ανθρώπους» – it thus addresses itself to and is itself a cultural product of the youthful “New Type” of person born in the post-war years and in the process of maturing in the 1970’s, and which – as a social collectivity – was the vanguard of a «νεανικό» socio-cultural revolution gradually yielding a new type of «περιβάλλον».
  3. It thus naturally places emphasis on “modernity” and on the “contemporary man”: notice phraseology such as «την σφραγίδα του μοντέρνου» or «το μοντέρνο», and «Οι άνθρωποι της εποχής μας» or «οι σύγχρονοι άνθρωποι». It therefore more or less directly suggests that their own furniture-design has either by-passed or gone well beyond the pre-war “old”, “traditional” and “primitive” type.
  4. Such “modernity” had yielded its own very specific furniture-design: its style was characterized by simplicity and a smart elegance: «το απλό» and «η κομψότητα».
  5. Such “modernistic simplicity” was itself the epitome of a sense of the ‘aesthetically beautiful’: notice the phrase «την αίσθηση του ωραίου».
  6. By the early-1970’s, such ‘aesthetic beauty’ in furniture would be achieved through the use of new, technologically-manufactured “synthetic” materials which would go beyond, not only wood, but also those of Formica and Nylon, which had been so popular in the 1960’s (as has been discussed above). Technological developments since then would mean that, by now, people would have access to the «σύνθετα έπιπλα από πολυουρεθάνη» – such new material being a new type of plastic.
  7. Interestingly, all such super-modern ‘aesthetics’ would nonetheless be re-establishing and re-structuring that bastion and dominion of the Greek middle class milieu, it being the “Greek Home” – though by now that relatively autonomous spatial “hub” we have referred to above would be “protecting” the individual in a rather new architectural interior and from a new external environment. As we have seen above, the «URETHANE HELLAS» advertisement would speak of such external reality as follows: «Σήμερα ο άνθρωπος προσπαθεί να αποφύγη την λεγoμένη “βαρειά” ατμόσφαιρα και να βρεθεί σε ένα περιβάλλον χαρούμενο και νεανικό». We know that the use of the term «χαρούμενο» is in itself meaningless and would have hardly convinced anyone of his personal “happiness” – but the discourse is so sensitive to the question of the individual’s «προσωπικότητα» that it would apply such attribute – as already noted above – to the “protective hub” itself.

We have spoken above of a new architectural interior, and we of course meant this with reference to the new furniture-designs that were gradually sprouting throughout the 1960’s and whose style was reaching some degree of consummation by the 1970’s – we have chosen to use the term architectural because it was rather popular at the time. We simply present here a 1971-72 sample of a simple advertisement to verify this point:

«εσωτερική
αρχιτεκτονική
έπιπλα – ΚΟΥΒΔΟΣ –
ΚΕΝΤΡΙΚΑ ΓΡΑΦΕΙΑ:
ΕΡΓΟΣΤΑΣΙΟΝ:
ΕΚΘΕΣΙΣ…»
(cf. Άστυ Καλλιθέας, 1884-1972,
Εκδοσεις: Εφημερίδος Η
 Καλλιθέα, p. 289).

Now, in examining the question of advertizing discourse promoting furniture, we have said that the positive material content of such discourse would be a primarily ‘aesthetic’ material content: whatever technical functionality regarding furniture would take second place. And yet, and especially as regards the “poorer” popular masses, that “hub”-“home” we have been referring to was most often a ‘spatial dominion’ very much limited in terms of square meters, and people who would decide to renew its ‘internal architecture’ would have to keep this reality in mind. In fact, as one re-visits Aliarto and walks around in search of the old dwellings still remaining since the 1960’s, one is struck by how truly small many of these were and wonders how it was really possible for a whole family to have been able to fit in them (the Aliartian barber’s second rented house in the area, and housing four family-members, would not have come to much more than 50-60 square meters). Blocks of flats being built in the wider Athens area in the 1960’s (such as at Egaleo, Petroupoli, etc., and which were to house many ex-Boeotians) were themselves as miniscule. A resident of the Athens suburb of Kokkino Mylo in the early-1960’s, the then newly-wed Anna Papaspiropoulou, would describe the otherwise relatively spacious house she initially lived in as follows:

«Το σπίτι είχε δυο κρεβατοκάμαρες, μια κουζίνα,
ένα σαλόνι… Και ζούσαμε τόσοι άνθρωποι. Η πεθερά
μου κι ο πεθερός μου, οι δυο κουνιάδοι μου, ο
αδελφός του πεθερού μου κι εμείς. Μπροστά, στο
σαλόνι, είχαμε τρεις καναπέδες, στον κάθε καναπέ
κοιμότανε κι ένας άνθρωπος. Εμένα η πεθερά μου
μου ‘δωσε την κρεβατοκάμαρα. Αλλά ζούσαμε καλά
όλοι μαζί…» (cf. 22η προφορική μαρτυρία, κυρία
Άννα, Κόκκινος Μύλος, 9.12.2011).

The relatively “poor”, wage-earning Greek would therefore often opt for pieces of furniture which would combine ‘aesthetics’ with simplicity and multi-functionality (for a historically perceptive discussion of such combination in “modern” furniture, cf. Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, op. cit., pp. 239-240). Advertizing discourse would often respond directly to such material-functional needs regarding furniture and would thus further enrich the positive material content of its discourse. We may here consider the following sample of advertizing discourse which appeared in the early-1970’s:

«έπιπλα για μικρούς χώρους
‘ΚΟΜΦΟΡ ΛΙ’…
Στην έκθεση ΚΟΜΦΟΡ… είδαμε έπιπλα
πρωτότυπα, για μικρά σπίτια, που
μεγαλώνουν και μακραίνουν, ανάλογα
με τις ανάγκες του χώρου. Ο δημιουργός
τους κ. Χατζάκης διαθέτει διπλώματα
ευρεσιτεχνίας. Επίσης ξεχωρίσαμε ένα
καναπέ που γίνεται ο ίδιος μονό και διπλό
κρεββάτι, μια πολυθρόνα… που γίνεται
ξαπλώστρα, ένα πτυσσόμενο κρεββάτι
τοίχου και πολλά άλλα σε πρωτότυπα σχέδια»
(cf. Epikaira, op. cit., p. 27).

Perhaps we should also add here that the «URETHANE HELLAS» advertisement discussed above, while definitely emphasizing the primary role of the ‘aesthetic’ element in the products it is promoting, would nonetheless also point to their “multi-functionality” somewhere along the line of its discourse («για πολλές χρήσεις»).

As in the case of certain other home appliances (fridges, kitchen-stoves), so too pieces of furniture would themselves enter the generalized wave of exchanges/renewals which we have said was a mass trend characterizing the decade of the 1960’s. Of course, for those many Aliartians who in the early-1960’s were only just beginning to move from their “primitive” tree-trunks and their «σοφρά» to Formica furniture, there was nothing really to give in exchange of the new. On the other hand, at least for people belonging to the upper middle classes – or, in any case, for those who belonged to the old and fairly well-established middle classes dating back to the pre-war years – such renewal of their furniture was already happening. Here, we may remind ourselves of the Koumandareas quote presented above and which speaks precisely of such furniture renewing in 1963 – «Η μισή πόλη …  άδειαζε από σαβούρα – δηλαδή κονσόλες, βιενέζικες καρέκλες και μπουφέδες – για να γεμίσει με φορμάικες και νάυλον» (op. cit.). But soon, by the mid-1960’s and on, the rest of the popular masses would be jumping on the bandwagon and would turn a rivulet of exchanges into a veritable torrent of renewals as the years went by and the “average Greek” could devote more of his “thought and attention” to ‘aesthetic taste’ and a bit less to material survival. In other words, sometime after people were able to make their first purchases of manufactured furniture and as their consumer-power would gradually increase, their ‘aesthetic taste’ and imagination would be galvanized, giving birth to new middle class ‘ambitions’. Especially as regards furniture (basic carrier of ‘aesthetics’ in a home and expressing its owner’s «προσωπικότητα»), this would prompt an on-going revolution of renewals in many households, and which could also be accompanied by additions to the household gear. Furniture companies would be facilitating the process and the material content of advertizing discourse would, as in the case of fridges and kitchen-stoves, be the primary mediator of such process. Consider the following 1965 sample advertisement:

«ΕΠΙΠΛΑ ΚΛΑΣΙΚΑ ΜΟΝΤΕΡΝΑ ΔΑΝΕΖΙΚΑ
… Θα σας πάρουμε τα ΠΑΛΙΑ ΩΣ ΠΡΟΚΑΤΑΒΟΛΗ
και θα εξοφλήσετε το υπόλοιπον με 100 ΔΡΧ.
ΤΟΝ ΜΗΝΑ…» (c.f. Ακρόπολις, 5.12.1965,
p. 13, their emph.).

Furniture renewal would demand furniture production – at least as regards local furniture manufacturing, and with reference to merely wooden furniture, official statistics (cf. the “Statistical Yearbook Of Greece, 1972”, op. cit, pp. 355-356) merely point to the explosion of the phenomenon – we simply present below the GDP for “wood and furniture”, for the years 1964-1971:

Million drachmas at 1971-72 prices:
1964       1965       1966       1967       1968       1969       1970       1971

1.332       1.562      1.702      2.087     2.241      2.649      3.033      3.467

Keeping in mind that such figures merely concern furniture made of wood, and thus exclude all artifacts made of “synthetic” materials, and also keeping in mind that this picture excludes all imported goods (GDP being the total value of final products produced within the national boundaries), we may nonetheless draw the tentative conclusion that GDP regarding “wood and furniture” had increased by 2.135 million drachmas within a period of just eight years. Advertizing discourse was both a cause and a product of such a truly historical phenomenon: its positive material content would be its mirror-image.

Perhaps the most obviously positive material function of advertizing discourse in the period we are discussing is evident in the promotion and circulation of sewing machines (introduced to the “periphery” by the early 20th century) – in this very special case, that which would be promoted would be a machine used by very many women to either supplement family income, or to actually fully support a family, or to act as substitute for the buying of clothing. Sewing machines, in other words, were productive property and could function as one of the central means of family-income, thus constituting some form of ‘home-industry’ for many families. And, as we have seen with other home-appliances, advertizing would play a primary role in the promotion and circulation of such invaluable ‘tools’. Their circulation within the Greek female population – and which could include wage-earners such as the “Amalia-type” – would take place, inter alia, through exchanges and renewals. Consider the following very simple (but also very popular) sample of an advertisement in 1965:

«Αγοράζονται και πωλούνται κατ’ οίκον…
άπαντα τα μεταχειρισμένα είδη…
Ραπτομηχαναί…»
(cf. Apogevmatini, 14.12.1965, p. 7).

This type of advertisement – more like a notification of services (buying/selling) – tells us little to nothing about the manner of discourse in which a sewing machine would be promoted: but it is precisely such absence of whatever ‘technique’ which verifies its straight-forward positive materiality (below, we shall be examining more ‘structured’ advertisements promoting sewing machines and which did effect a certain ‘balance’ between, on the one hand, functionality, degrees of technical perfection and efficiency and, on the other, the ‘aesthetics’ or the brand-name of the machine). But this advertisement-notification does give us some idea, not only of the generalized renewal of things in the mid-1960’s which we have noted, but also of the fact that the sewing machine was itself part and parcel of this wave of renewals.

It really could not have been otherwise: we know that sewing machines were very popular amongst Aliartian females, young and old, and especially given their function as productive property or as machines for the production of home-made clothing (for a verification of this in the area of Aliarto, cf. 31η προφορική μαρτυρία, Χρυσούλα Βελέντζα, 97 χρονών, Μούλκι, Αλίαρτος, 19.7.2013). Specifically as regards the use of the sewing machine as a form of ‘home-industry’ in the early-1960’s, Anna Papaspiropoulou (op. cit.) provides us with an excellent picture of such economic activity – this is what she had to say:

«Περάσαμε δύσκολα στην αρχή [i.e. on getting
married, aged 16, 1963], … αλλά δε θέλαμε να
ζητήσουμε απ’ τους γονείς μας. Αλλά σιγά σιγά,
τα καταφέραμε. 67 δραχμές αυτός μεροκάματο
στην οικοδομή, 43 εγώ, το πιάσαμε τελικά το
κατοστάρικο … [I worked] φασόν… Από τις 7 το
πρωί μέχρι τις 12, 1 το βράδυ. Αλλά δούλεψα
και στο εργοστάσιο … στου Βακαλόπουλου [a
textile mill]. Και με την κοιλιά μέχρι τον λαιμό,
πήγαινα στη δουλειά. Ύστερα μπορέσαμε και
πήραμε και ραπτομηχανή, και δούλευα στο σπίτι,
φασόν. Μπήκαμε κι εμείς σιγά σιγά σε μια σειρά.
Αλλά τι δουλειά! Γιατί έπρεπε να βγει παραγωγή,
σου δίναν τα υφάσματα και σου λέγαν ως την
Παρασκευή πρέπει να παραδώσεις. Για να
παραδώσεις έπρεπε να δουλεύεις όλη μέρα.
Αφού και τώρα ακόμα, όταν κάθομαι στην καρέκλα,
πονάνε τα πόδια, εδώ στους γοφούς. Με βοήθαγε
κι ο άντρας μου όταν δεν είχε δουλειά. Είχαμε καλή
συνεννόηση με τον άντρα μου. Ψαλίδιζε, τα
δίπλωνε… Έπρεπε να βγει το μεροκάματο. Γιατί
τότε είχαμε πάρει το οικόπεδο…».

Both the then sixteen year-old Anna at Kokkino Mylo and the then young Chrisoula at Moulki, as also many Aliartian women, would use their sewing machines (often bought second-hand) to supplement family income by working in their homes: most would belong to the “Amalia type” in terms of age and objective class position. Interestingly, even since the 1930’s/1940’s, advertisements would play an important role in simply informing people of the existence of training “workshops” where parents could send their daughters so as to prepare them as competent dressmakers – in this case, such advertizing discourse would basically be fulfilling a social role, and this would also apply through to the 1960’s. Between 1938 and 1940, we would have the circulation of the following type of advertisement:

«ΚΟΠΤΙΚΗ – ΡΑΠΤΙΚΗ
ΚΙΚΗΣ ΧΕΛΜΗ
ΕΡΓΑΣΤΗΡΙΑ ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΩΝ ΣΠΟΥΔΩΝ…
Γονείς προτού αποφασίσετε που θα
εμπιστευθήτε τα κορίτσια σας και τα
χρήματά σας, αποτανθήτε εις τον
ΟΙΚΟΝ μου, όστις θα σας εξυπηρετήσι
με όλην την ειλικρίνειαν ήν έχει ως βάσιν
της όλης σταδιοδρομίας του επί μίαν
8ετίαν… Αναλαμβάνω υπευθύνως την
τελείαν εκμάθησιν της ΚΟΠΤΙΚΗΣ διά
του Γαλλικού Σωματομετρικού συστήματος
ΕΝΤΟΣ 3-4 ΜΗΝΩΝ, διά δε τας πρακτικάς
μοδίστρας ΕΝΤΟΣ ΜΗΝΟΣ… Η διδασκαλία
γίνεται παρά της ιδίας κ. Χέλμη.
Οικοτροφείον οικογενειακόν.
Ζητήσατε έντυπον κανονισμόν»
(cf. Η Καλλιθέα…, op. cit., p. 327).

Finally, as regards the use of the sewing machine so as to produce home-made clothing and thereby save on expenses, Didika (op. cit.) presents us with the following 1963 picture (but which happens to be rather melodramatic):

«Από το τρίτο δωμάτιο ξέφευγε από την
μισάνοιχτη πόρτα δυνατό φως… Το είδε η
Κατίνα και σκέφθηκε. – Δουλεύει η Βαγγελίτσα.
Δουλεύει η δεκαπεντάχρονη κοπελλίτσα…
Αλλά την φορά αυτή δεν ράβει ξένο φόρεμα,
ετοιμάζει ένα δικό της. Παντρεύεται μια φίλη της
και είναι από τις πρώτες καλεσμένες… Φτηνό το
ύφασμα και λυπάται γι’ αυτό. Την παίρνει και το
παράπονο, καθώς σκέπτεται πως άλλες κοπέλλες,
σαν αυτήν, έχουν την ντουλάπα τους γεμάτη, απ’
ό,τι ακριβό υπάρχει… Καταπίνει ένα δάκρυ της,
διώχνει μακρυά τις κακές σκέψεις της ζήλειας της,
που καραδοκούν να δηλητηριάσουν την ψυχή της
και ρίχνεται στο ράψιμο… Θα το κάνη πολύ όμορφο,
μια φίνα μοδίτσα και θα της πηγαίνη θαύμα!...
Της επιβλήθηκαν οι σκέψεις της αυτές. Κάθε πικρόχολη
έννοια παραμέρισε και σιγοτραγουδώντας συνεχίζει
το ράψιμό της» (p. 40).

Now, it is important to observe that this type of activity, on the part of any young «Βαγγελίτσα», could be – and very often was – accompanied by a particular form of advertizing discourse which would aid, abet and guide her in the sewing of a particular “fashionable” dress – the advertisement would, not only promote a particular fashion house, etc., but would at the same time offer very specific instructions on how to make the particular piece of clothing (and could include a «ΠΑΤΡΟΝ» as well). At least in the 1960’s and 1970’s, many popular periodicals would at times try to promote a product by presenting its various attributes in the form of an “article” – in similar manner, popular periodicals would offer women practical instructions on the making of a dress and then at some point would go on and advertise the particular clothing company related to that type of dress. Such form of advertizing discourse, taking the form of an “article”, could be said to be “manipulative”. And yet, what we also had here was, not merely a general positive material content in the discourse (generally advising women), or not merely an ‘aesthetic’ content (suggesting latest fashions), but a very specific practical material content: stitch-by-stitch, the dressmaker would follow patterns and instructions offered free of charge, such practice being extremely popular at the time. We present below a 1967 sample of that type of advertisement (which appeared on a regular basis in many popular periodicals):

«ΠΑΛΤΑ… Όσες από τις αναγνώστριές μας
πρόκειται να ράψουν τώρα ένα παλτό, ας
διαλέξουν ανάμεσα από τα μοντέλα μας
αυτό που θα τους ταιριάζη καλύτερα. Είναι
όλα μοντέλα του μεγάλου ιταλικού οίκου
ENTE ITALIANO DELLA MODA… [instructions/
patterns/designs, etc., would usually follow]»
(cf. Romantso, No 1248, 31.1.1967,
p. 87).

It is of some interest to note here that periodicals offering Greek women instructions and patterns on the making of dresses also included – at least as regards the mid-1970’s – foreign publications. For instance, the West German “burda moden”, focusing on women’s fashion, would also include an insert «ΜΕ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΜΕΤΑΦΡΑΣΗ», which presented the Greek female reader with extremely detailed instructions and «ΠΑΤΡΟΝ» for dressmaking. The German-language periodical itself was filled to capacity with a variety of advertisements related to clothing and other artifacts having to do with the home. Readers in Greece were also encouraged to subscribe to it, via the «ΑΜΕΡΙΚΑΝΙΚΟΝ ΠΡΑΚΤΟΡΕΙΟΝ ΤΥΠΟΥ Α. ΣΑΜΟΥΧΟΣ». (cf., for instance, “burda moden – macht Mode zumMitmachen”, 4.4.1976, with Greek-language insert No. 4 [32 pages] included). As detailed instructions on the making of dresses were also presented by the Greek women’s periodical Ekeini [Εκείνη], established in 1975.

Of purely historical interest is the fact that, while such practices involving popular women’s periodicals as described above were extremely widespread among Greek women with an access to a sewing machine in the 1960’s and 1970’s, such practices in Greece can be traced back to the 1940’s, the 1930’s and even – in some way – to the nineteenth century.

As regards the 1940’s, Pavlos Matesis, in his novel, Η μητέρα του σκύλου» (Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, Athens, 1990, p. 218), writes:

«Η μαμά της έπλενε τα πιάτα και
η Ραραού χάζευε ένα περιοδικό,
αγόραζε περιοδικό η κυρία Φανή για
να βλέπει νέα σχέδια πλεξίματος».

Writing of the period of the 1930’s, and with reference to the island of Corfu, Spiros Plaskovitis puts the following words in the mouth of a young lady at that time:

«Προσπαθούσα να κεντήσω… Είχα αγοράσει
ένα περιοδικό απ’ το περίπτερο – αυτό ήταν
όλο, γιατί δεν κατάφερα παραπάνω από
πεντέξι βελονιές…» (cf. Spiros Plaskovitis,
 Η πόλη, [The City,Κέδρος, 1980, pp. 172-173).

Finally, with reference to the nineteenth century (1887), Haridimos Papadakis makes the following observation in his (rather crude) study of Greek women residing in Rethymno, Crete:

«Τις ημέρες της εξόδου πάντως, στολίζονται
κοκέτικα, ενημερωμένες καθώς είναι για την
τελευταία μόδα, από τα εικονογραφημένα
περιοδικά που τους φέρνουν οι μοδίστρες
τους. Δεν τους είναι άγνωστα ούτε τα τελευταία
καπελάκια του συρμού…» (cf. H.A. Papadakis,
 Οίκοι ανοχής στην «πολιτεία της ανοχής»,
Rethymno, 2013, p. 83).

The sewing machine did not, for Greek women, lessen physical exertion or expand on free time: as is quite obvious, it added to physical exertion and at times – as in the case of Anna Papaspiropoulou – it absolutely took up all of her free time (but which would not at all prevent the Papaspiropoulos couple from frequently entertaining themselves at tavernas till the small hours of the morning and then directly head straight to work – cf. the interview above). Its invention and final circulation amongst women in Greece by the early 20th century and on would oblige very many women to spend a great deal of their time bent over it. But, on the other hand, the fact that the working of this machine brought in cash (or lessened expenses when it came to clothing) would mean that it was also one important means whereby the family could spend more cash on time/exertion-saving devices such as the washing machine and the kitchen-stove, and which would help much to free women from the extremely burdensome household duties of the not too distant past. (For Papaspiropoulou, working the sewing machine would directly contribute to the buying of a plot of land and to the final building of her first very own “Home”).

This new “form of Greek life” in the early post-war period was therefore, for many women belonging to the popular masses, riddled with contradictions and it was so because – at least for the period of the 1960’s and early-1970’s – it was as we have seen an essentially transitional period. But the hard work women had to do – whether bent over a sewing machine at home or bent over a desk at the A&M Headquarters or doing both of these – was nothing new to the Greek popular masses: they had long managed to forge ‘techniques’ of life combining work with play (to be further examined below). That which was truly new was the «τεχνικαί εγκαταστάσεις» which were entering their lives and revolutionizing people’s relationship with themselves, with others and with the objects around them: the exertion and time these «εγκαταστάσεις» saved would ultimately come to constitute the «χρονική μήτρα» and the «ιστορικότητα» of a new, popular middle class milieu in Greece (we use these terms in a loosely Poulantzian sense). The dependent development of the Greek capitalist system at the time was able to ‘offer’ the popular masses (but only given the pressures of the latter) better material-technical conditions of everyday life – it was, in other words, able to fight what Habermas (op. cit.) had called the «υψηλό κόστος που έπρεπε παλιότερα να καταβάλλει η μάζα του πληθυσμού… στις διαστάσεις της σωματικής εργασίας… [etc.]». In time, the “luxury” of the home appliance would become a “necessity”, and the Greek business world would have to prepare both itself and society for this newly- looming world – as we shall see below, such ‘preparations’ would above all include the form advertizing discourse itself would have to take.

As early as 1956, the periodical Paragogikotis to which we have referred above, and which was the central organ of the business world in Greece (ΣΕΒ), would try to explain to its readers – basically manufacturers – what was in fact happening or was about to happen in Greek society: i.e. that soon the consuming public would be demanding good quality products and «τεχνικαί εγκαταστάσεις» which would no longer be seen as “luxuries” but as a “necessary” means to lighten the burden of housework. Given that in the decade of the 1950’s such developments were only just beginning to emerge in Greece, the periodical of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would try to explain the new obligations of Greek manufacturers by introducing them to what was happening in Europe at the time – more specifically, it would present to them the “Danish Model”, and which would itself include the rise of organized consumer power, itself presented as a functional structure in post-war capitalist society meant to press manufacturers for the proper promotion and appropriate manufacture of what by now had become absolutely necessary home appliances (as suggested, and as we shall see below, this would have a major impact on the form that modern advertizing discourse would have to necessarily take – apart from its positive material content –, even in Greece).

In an extremely perceptive text which would foresee the radically altered mass definition of what would constitute “material necessity” in Greece itself, Paragogikotis  would present the situation of 1950’s Denmark as follows:

«Κατά την διάρκειαν των παρελθόντων ετών,
η Επιτροπή Αγοραστών ειργάσθη επίσης εντόνως
 δια να ελαφρύνη τας οικιακάς εργασίας και να
δώση συμβουλάς εις τας οικοκυράς… Η Επιτροπή
Αγοραστών είναι τοιουτοτρόπως ο εκπρόσωπος
εκείνων, οι οποίοι ζητούν πλέον συγχρόνους
 κατοικίας, και επιδιώκει να κάμη τας αρχάς και
 τον πληθυσμόν να εννοήση, ότι αι τεχνικαί
 εγκαταστάσεις εις ένα σπίτι όπου η μητέρα σπανίως
 έχει βοηθόν, ενώ συνήθως εργάζεται εκτός της
 οικίας της, δεν είναι πολυτέλεια αλλά ανάγκη»
(cf. Paragogikotis , No 13,
Athens, July-August, 1956, p. 29, my emph.).

This is ΣΕΒ speaking in the mid-1950’s – what does it see coming and what was it in fact then doing? As the coordinating organ of Greek capital – and given its structural bird’s eye view – it is basically advising Greek manufacturers to align themselves to the new demands and the new real needs of the popular masses. Put otherwise, ΣΕΒ was helping both the manufacturing industry and its concomitant promotion industry to adjust to what was happening to Greek civil society – of course, its reference to the “Danish Model” should not be seen as ‘accidental’: ΣΕΒ was much aware of the looming “Euro-tastes” amongst the Greek popular masses and was therefore introducing such ‘Europeanism” to Greek manufacturers and promoters of products.

But, then, the question one need pose is to what extent was the physical burden of the Greek housewife of the 1960’s truly being lifted? To what extent was the “Amalia-type” herself truly able to satisfy her “Euro-tastes”? Alternatively, one need consider the extent to which the Greek middle class milieu “Dream” was in fact “reachable” in the 1960’s and early-1970’s. By that time, the “Amalia-type” would be fully aware that very many of the household appliances being promoted were already no longer mere “luxuries” for her – but what she also knew (and which ΣΕΒ would for its own reasons choose to ignore) was that the Collective Bargaining Agreements clinched between her Union (the Ομοσπονδία Ιδιωτικών Υπαλλήλων Ελλάδος) and ΣΕΒ itself, would be such as to seriously limit her consumer capacity (cf. our paper on remuneration scales for female “White-Collar” employees). This would practically mean that, yes, quite a variety of perhaps “necessary” household gadgets and appliances would, in the 1960’s at least, remain “unreachable” for Amalia Eleftheriadou.  The «χρονική μήτρα» which would give birth to the middle class milieu would, at the time, only carry an embryo; the «ιστορικότητα» of the phenomenon was only just starting to raise its head, and that could only unfold in conditions which involved both socio-cultural clashes and what we have elsewhere referred to as “wage-wars” (cf. our paper on the internal industrial relations structures and practices of the Α&Μ Mill factory). Thus, while the wage-labourer “Amalia-type” did possess a certain consumer power as described above, there were to still remain limits to such power – such limits are best understood if contrasted to, say, an Athenian family belonging to the relatively “upper strata” of the popular middle classes in the period under discussion. One such was that of Maria Theodoraki who worked part-time at the Athens racecourse center and whose husband was a public schoolteacher – this is what she has to say as regards the family’s buying of various family appliances:

«Αγοράσαμε πλυντήριο το 1954, όταν μέναμε
ακόμα στο Κερατσίνι. Το θυμάμαι, γιατί τότε ο
παππούς σου [she is referring to her husband –
interview conducted by her granddaughter]
φόραγε δυο ζευγάρια κάλτσες το χειμώνα, το ένα
πάνω από το άλλο. Κι επειδή εγώ είχα τα παιδιά,
μου είχε φέρει μια γυναίκα, μια πλύστρα, να
πλένει τα ρούχα. Εκείνη όπως τις έβγαζε ο παππούς
σου τις κάλτσες, και τα δυο ζευγάρια μαζί, έτσι
τις έπλενε κι έτσι τις άπλωνε. Και μια μέρα που τις
είχε απλώσει εκεί στην αυλή, του λέω “για δες,
τι είναι αυτά;”. Με παίρνει και μου λέει “Πάμε σ’ ένα
φίλο μου να πάρεις πλυντήριο”. Αυτός ήταν από
τους πρώτους που έφερε πλυντήρια – και
κουζίνες και ψυγεία είχε. Τότε πήραμε πλυντήριο,
και πήραμε και κουζίνα, με τέσσερα μάτια. Τα
πήραμε με δόσεις. Τότε δούλευα κι εγώ στον
Ιππόδρομο, ήταν κι ο παππούς σου δάσκαλος, δεν
ήταν ακριβά. Ό,τι θέλαμε δίναμε κιόλας, γιατί
αυτός ήταν φίλος του παππού. Λίγους μήνες μετά
πήραμε και ψυγείο, αυτό που φέραμε κι εδώ [i.e.
Kallithea] όταν μετακομίσαμε, το 1967-8. ΙΖΟΛΑ πρέπει
να ήταν. Πιο πριν είχαμε ένα ψυγείο ξύλινο, με πάγο.
Παίρναμε μια κολόνα πάγο, ή το ¼, ας πούμε, όσο
χώραγε. Από τον πόλεμο και μετά είχαμε τέτοια
ψυγεία. Μόλις έφυγαν οι Γερμανοί, τότε άρχισε ο
κόσμος να παίρνει απάνω του. Όλα με δόσεις τα παίρναμε»
(cf. Telephonic interview with Maria Theodoraki, aged 88,
20.7.2014).

Considering all that has been agued above thus far, we may say that an important and quite representative advertizing discourse presented by Roupa (op. cit.) and to which we have already alluded, contains both real truths and as real falsehoods as regards the amelioration of the problem of physical burden – published in 1957 in the periodical Eikones [Εικόνες], it would make the following rather dramatic statement:

«Καταργείται η νοικοκυρά»
(cf. Eikones, No 78, April 22-28, 1957;
& Roupa, op. cit., p. 260).

At this point, it is only fair to dwell on the falsehoods of such discourse. The household appliances and their technical functions we have noted above would help a Greek woman to somewhat “abolish” herself as housewife when, for instance, it came to tasks such as washing, cooking or lighting a fire in the fireplace in winter-time. But given the reality of those Collective Bargaining Agreements clinched for a female «Υπάλληλο» (and also given the usual infringement of even such Agreements by the A&M employer), there were quite a number of remaining household tasks which an Amalia Eleftheriadou simply could not afford to substitute with machines – and which had become absolutely “necessary” appliances for young women such as Anna who slaved away over her sewing machine, or Amalia who would also slave away at Headquarters beneath the military-style “despotic” control of her boss, Marakis. One task that the majority of Greek women still had to manually deal with in the 1960’s and 1970’s was that of dish-washing (a task which the majority of Greek males would religiously shy away from, given the sexual division of labour which still dominated both home and workplace at the time, despite the on-going sexual revolution amongst youth). And yet, the dishwasher had made its advent in the Greek market in the period under discussion. Consider the following advertisement which appeared in 1971 and which was presumably addressing itself to the “average Greek”:

«EL – SH
ΡΑΔΙΟΗΛΕΚΤΡΙΚΑ ΕΡΓΑΣΤΗΡΙΑ
ΠΛΥΝΤΗΡΙΑ ΠΙΑΤΩΝ
SIEMENS
ΤΥΠΟΥ: LADY-S
Θ. ΦΟΥΝΤΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ & ΥΙΟΣ…»
(cf. Άστυ Καλλιθέας…, op. cit., p. 269).

This advertisement, also accompanied by a picture of the particular dishwasher, makes no attempt whatsoever at ‘persuading’ consumers about the need for such an appliance: its laconic discourse-content is simply ‘positive’, ‘material’ and therefore straight-forwardly honest. For an Amalia Eleftheriadou, the catch lay elsewhere: it was an unreachable commodity – and which could not therefore “abolish” her regular dish-washing tasks. Being so, its practically “necessary” attributes would, for the “Amalia-type”, seem a “luxury”, and which implies that it was also economic capacity which would historically define what be a “necessity” and what a “luxury”. Time, social pressure and concomitant developments at the political level would gradually re-define all this, by the mid-1970’s and on.

As with the laborious task of washing dishes, so also with the as tedious task of sweeping and mopping floors, physical exertion could have been diminished through the use of an electric appliance. But like the dishwasher, so also the vacuum-cleaner was most probably an unreachable dream for the “Amalia-type” in the mid-1960’s. And yet again, the vacuum-cleaner was available to Greeks by at least then. One can only guess how Amalia Eleftheriadou, or her mother, would have eyed the following 1965 advertisement:

«Σκουπίζει –
Σφουγγαρίζει –
Γυαλίζει –
Αλείφει –
Ξύνει…
PROGRESS – ΣΚΟΥΠΕΣ – ΠΑΡΚΕΤΕΖΕΣ…»
(cf. Akropolis, 30.11.1965, p. 2).

Appliances such as the above, precisely because they would come to be seen as fulfilling real needs, and given the gradual rise in consumer power, would, in the long run, form part of the «τεχνικαί εγκαταστάσεις» of very many Greek households – they would constitute the palpable material infrastructure of the middle class milieu. It was on the basis of such infrastructure – but “in” it and “around” it and “with” it – that the socio-cultural practices of the milieu would be enacted: the technico-functional appliances would not constitute the ‘base’ on which the socio-cultural practices (as a presumed ‘superstructure’) would take place. Technical functions would determine ‘aesthetics’ just as the latter would determine the former: they would together – as a combinatory whole – come to comprise the very “spirit” of the Greek middle class milieu. In the 1960’s, such “whole” would remain incomplete, given the array of as yet “unreachable” goods. As such, the “spirit” of the middle class milieu in the 1960’s would be characterized by a transitional “primitiveness” in itself.

Perhaps the most important terrain of everyday life where the “primitive” would clash with the “modern” in the 1960’s would be around the issue of hygiene – to be more specific: the “spirit” of the middle class milieu would ultimately also come to be determined by what would happen in the Greek toilet. Saying this might sound terribly provocative: the social sciences have traditionally focused on the study of formal institutions such as the State, the Church, etc., or on formal economic transactions as these happen within and between companies, and so on, so as to try to understand the level of ‘development’ of a social formation. And they have done well – but if one is to truly understand any level of ‘development’ amongst the popular masses, one would have to examine their popular practices as such one such practice is the use of the toilet, and it is of central importance since it may be taken to be an index of “civilization”. Now, any reference to “civilization” may again be seen as provocative: for most historians who had worked on African social history in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the concept of “civilization”, of “being civilized”, etc., had rightly been rejected as symptoms of an arrogant – and therefore biased – “Euro-centrism”. However, one can avoid all biased value-judgements and still accept that certain human practices can be measured along a scale of relative “civilization” within the context of the “modern” world and according to a number of set criteria. Above, one such central criterion has been the degree of physical exertion one has to apply so as to survive. Yet another must surely be that of hygiene and protecting the body from disease, etc. This brings us to the question of what was happening as regards the Greek toilet in the post-war period and the role of technology and advertisements with respect to such reality.

Writing of the period under discussion, George Mihailidis (op. cit.) provides us with the following picture pertaining to Greek toilets round about the decade of the 1960’s:

«Το θυμόμουν καλά το σπίτι… Το έζωνε μια
πλίθινη μάντρα … και πέρα η σκάλα που
ανέβαζε στο σπίτι, δυο δωμάτια με κουζίνα
 κι ο καμπινές χώρια στη γωνιά της μάντρας»
(cf. G. Mihailidis, Tα φονικά, op. cit., p. 178,
my emph.).

What Mihailidis is describing – the “primitive” outdoor toilet – was a generalized phenomenon of the period, and went far back in time. In an interview conducted with a group of Aliartian pensioners, Alekos Karamitros – who had been a worker at the A&M Mill – would explain that even the father-in-law of his boss – Iordanis Abatzoglou – would, in the 1940’s, himself have an outdoor toilet. At the time, Iordanis happened to be the Aliartian owner of a «πετρόμυλο/ριζόμυλο» (to be later expanded and modernized by Marakis into the flour-producing factory of which Amalia Eleftheriadou would be an employee), and could not therefore be said to have belonged to the “poor” popular masses. And yet, when it came to the question of the toilet, his practices would not differ much from those of the rest. Karamitros would relate the following story which took place in war-time Greece:

«Τότε ο Ιορδάνης είχε τρία τέσσερα δωμάτια,
ένα μακρόστενο σπίτι, και η τουαλέτα ήταν
έξω. Οι Ιταλοί [occupying forces] ήταν όλοι
μαζεμένοι στον περίβολο, και η υπηρέτρια
που είχανε, η Μαρία, δεν τολμούσε να βγει
να πάει προς νερού της. Πήγε στην κουζίνα
να κάνει κακά γιατί φοβόταν. Την ανακάλυψε
όμως η Αναστασία [Iordanis’ wife], και άρχισε
να τη χτυπά μ’ ένα ματσούκι. Άκουσε τις φωνές
ο Μαράκης, “Τι έγινε κυρία Αναστασία;” τη
ρωτάει – “κυρία Αναστασία”, έτσι την έλεγε –,
το και το του λέει. Βγήκε έξω ο Μαράκης,
άρπαξε τον Ιταλό [one of the group] και τον
έφερε σβούρα» (cf. 23η προφορική μαρτυρία,
ΚΑΠΗ Αλιάρτου, ομαδική συνέντευξη-συζήτηση
με συνταξιούχους κατοίκους Αλιάρτου,
6.7.2013, πρωί).

When the toilet would be outdoors – as it would be so for the majority of Greeks right through to the 1960’s – getting to it could often turn out to be quite ‘adventurous’. Children would have to face the terrors of the dark if they needed to use the toilet after sunset (one of them had seen a ghostly image in the Aliartian skies); the Aliartian barber’s wife would once safely get there but then come screaming out of it on seeing a snake curled right in the centre of the place; male eyes would often ogle at swaying female bodies footing their way to the toilet; on rainy days one would have to wait for the rain to subside; on hot summer days the smell would attack the nostrils, and so on. Thus, the little story about Maria above was just one amongst thousands like such, during but also long after war-time Greece. Importantly, and at least by the 1960’s, walking to the outdoor toilet would seem to be seriously violating one’s personal privacy – i.e. it would be violating the individual’s right to one’s own private world, something which the young “New Type” would come to really treasure (and which was a defining characteristic of the middle class milieu).

But as the decade wore on, things would begin to change. Of course, for Marakis the small-time capitalist, the contrast between the 1940’s and the 1960’s would be absolutely dramatic as regards the issue of the toilet. The A&M Archives include a plan of the Marakis villa (which was right opposite the factory itself) – it had been prepared by professional designers on 20.11.1964, and was presumably meant to help locate appropriate areas in the house for the installation of an air conditioning system. But what this house-plan also reveals, as regards hygiene, stands in sharp contrast to circumstances in the 1940’s: by now the Marakis family had access to three indoor luxury toilets, each of which also had its own bidet. One of the three was a very spacious room and was entitled «ΛΟΥΤΡΟ ΞΕΝΩΝ» in the plan.

Things would not be that easy for the popular masses – but Nikos Tsiforos, in his Άνθρωποι (op. cit.), would be describing the advent of the new so-called toilet-related “luxuries” amongst the “average Greek” by the early 1970’s as follows:

«…έδειξε το μαγαζί του, … είδη λουτρού,
με καμπινέδες ροζ, με μπιντέδες βεραμάν,
με του κόσμου τ’ αγαθά, σε απλά γερμανικά
χρώματα της “Φάρμπεν Ιντουστρί”, το
μαγαζί που άρχισε από ένα τίποτα και μεγάλωσε
μαζί με την μεταπολεμική Αθήνα και προμήθευσε
στις καινούργιες πολυκατοικίες, λουτρά μεγαλεία,
 εκεί που πρώτα, ήτανε μια μάντρα, και στην
 άκρη είχανε κτίσει κι ασβεστώσει μια παράγκα
 και για να πας τον χειμώνα φτερνιζόσουνα από
 την μύτη, φτερνιζόσουνα κι από κάτω» (p. 133,
my emph.).

The real “civilizing” progress from what Tsiforos describes as an outdoor «παράγκα» to what he calls the «λουτρά μεγαλεία» does of course suggest some tinge of irony in the story. These developments, which had in fact commenced by the mid-1960’s, were not an easy matter for the popular masses – the problem was not merely economic: for very many people, such radical changes in hygiene practices would constitute a real culture-clash within popular habits, especially though not exclusively in the Greek “periphery” (and hence the Tsiforos irony). Xanthoulis (op. cit.) captures precisely such unfolding clash in the late-1950’s – referring to the year 1958, this is how he puts it:

«Σήμερα, αύριο, το πολύ μεθαύριο κι
έπειτα θα γινόμασταν πολλά μικρά
διαμερίσματα με... “λουτροκαμπινέ”,
 αυτήν την άγνωστη αλλά αηδιαστική
 λέξη, που μου ’φερνε στο νου την εικόνα
 ενός τεράστιου σκατού στη μέση της
 μπανιέρας» (cf. Το πεθαμένο λικἐρ,
op. cit., p. 74, my emph.).

Such emotional response to what was coming – accurately reflective of the clash of hygienic cultural practices – was an inevitable product of the transitionality of the period, and we of course know that the technology of the modern toilet (as also its ‘aesthetic’ dimensions) would ultimately become a universal need amongst all Greeks. But to further understand the cultural rupture that such technology and its promotion would effect within the popular masses, we may also consider how a young Aliartian would respond on first seeing an indoor toilet in the early-/mid-1970’s, and which fully verifies the Xanthoulis description. Vasilis Halimoudras, an Aliartian resident born in 1966 (and who is perhaps one of the best informed minds regarding, inter alia, the cultural practices of the Aliartian «Ευρυτάνες»), had this to say in an interview conducted in 2009:

«Είχα πάει μια φορά στο σπίτι ενός συμμαθητή
μου. Πλούσιος αυτός, το κάθε παιδί είχε το δικό
του δωμάτιο, κι αυτό εμένα μου έκανε μεγάλη
εντύπωση. Καθώς λοιπόν περπατούσαμε στο
διάδρομο κι εγώ χάζευα με ανοιχτό το στόμα
γύρω μου, βλέπω ένα δωμάτιο με νιπτήρα, λεκάνη,
όλα έλαμπαν. “Εδώ τι είναι;” ρωτάω – πού να
καταλάβω εγώ, πρώτη φορά έβλεπα τουαλέτα
στη ζωή μου. “Τουαλέτα” λέει αυτός. Εγώ δεν
ήξερα καν τη λέξη. “Εδώ κάνετε μπάνιο;” “Όχι
μόνο μπάνιο, εδώ κατουράμε”. Και μόλις το ακούω
εγώ αυτό, πώς μου φάνηκε, “Ιιιι! Εδώ κατουράτε;
ΜΕΣ ΣΤΟ ΣΠΙΤΙ ΚΑΤΟΥΡΑΤΕ;”…» (cf. 15th interview,
Aliarto, 22.06.2009).

Both in the Xanthoulis case, as also with Vasilis, the indoor toilet, even as an idea, would shock: the very word «λουτροκαμπινέ» was an «άγνωστη αλλά αηδιαστική λέξη»; «εγώ δεν ήξερα καν τη λέξη», says Vasilis. Prior to the advent of the modern toilet in Greece, the act of emptying one’s bowels went hand-in-hand with the as “primitive” methods of washing clothes (at Aliarto, many women would do their washing at the «Στεμένια» springs), preserving foods (prior to the «παγωνιέρα», people would use a “safe” called a «φανάρι-τροφίμων»), cooking outdoors, and so on and so forth. Such natural act of emptying one’s bowels, therefore, would remain more or less absolutely natural, at least in the sense of remaining untouched by any technological infrastructure. It is therefore not too difficult for us to guess what Marakis would want to mean when he would write a personal letter to one of his employees (his senior Practical Mechanic) and lodge the following complaint in 1963:

«Αθήναις 28.5.[19]63

Κύριον Μιχαήλ Χαρτάκην – αρχιμ[ηχανικός]

“Αυστηρά – Προσωπική”

Μιχάλη,

Κράτησε αυστηρά πειθαρχία και σεβασμόν εις
τον μύλο και εις το χημείο που παρευρίσκεσαι
πάντοτε – διότι το τελευταίο κατήντησε καφενείο –
γαλακτοπωλείον – κουρείον και λουτρό.
Απηγόρευσα την είσοδον οιονδήποτε εντός…
[Signed] Μαράκης» (cf. A&M Archives, my emph.).

The boss Marakis most probably does not mean that his particular accusations be taken literally (and especially that wry reference to «λουτρό») – but his missive does show how a gentleman who happens to possess three toilets in his villa would look down on common plebeians who happened not to have even heard of the word «λουτροκαμπινέ» or «τουαλέτα». As we know, a person such as Vasilis Halimoudras would himself look back at his own past hygiene practices and laugh at how natural these were – and how ignorant he had also been about developments in that sphere of life. To fully understand the profundity of the technological revolution that would uproot whatever “primitive” naturalness still lingering on around Greek popular hygiene methods, we may take a brief look at the history of traditional toilet practices and then go on and contrast this to 1960’s advertizing discourse on the matter: the positive material content of advertisements concerning the toilet would play a major role in creating what we have above referred to as the anthropologically altered “New Type”.

Very schematically – and rather tentatively we should add – the movement from “primitive” hygiene practices to “modern” practices can be summarized as follows with regard to the popular masses:

  • During the decade of the 1950’s – as also of course in the pre-war years – the vast majority of the popular masses used either a stone or a bunch of leaves (or both) to clean themselves following defecation. Minority “élite” groups within the general category of the popular masses (teachers for instance) would themselves use toilet roll-paper by the late-1950’s;
  • By the late-1950’s and early-1960’s, people were gradually beginning to use strips of newspaper, which would be hanging on hooks;
  • From the early-1960’s, we gradually also had the use of «ένα είδος φτηνού κωλόχαρτου, όχι σε ρολό αλλά σε μάτσο χαρτιά» (cf. telephonic interview with Dr. B.Th., 12.08.2013);
  • By the mid-1960’s, the “modern” roll-paper was being introduced to the popular masses by a variety of advertisements – people would now “naturally” find it convenient to move from the «μάτσο χαρτιά» to the thinner and much softer «ρολό»;
  • On the other hand and according to another source (cf. telephonic interview with Ms. K. K., born 1959, 13.08.2013): «Σ’ ένα χωριό έξω απ’ το Αγρίνιο, χρησιμοποίησαν ρολό χαρτί υγείας από το 1970 και μετά. Πιο πριν [they used] εφημερίδες σε γάντζους, πέτρες και χόρτα»;
  • We may generally say that the use of “modern” toilet-paper became an established practice in places such as Aliarto by the late-1960’s – the product was brought to the attention of residents of the “periphery” by advertisements such as that of “MELTEX” (to be examined further below in discussing “balances” within the content of discourse), and which was circulated by popular periodicals such as the Romantso in 1967 and through to the early-1970’s. Yet still, its usage took place within outdoor toilets – it was only by the very late-1960’s and the early-1970’s that the process of locating toilets indoors would gather some momentum, and such process would itself be uneven in the rural or semi-rural “peripheries”.
  • Interestingly, when the Aliartian barber had come to visit Greece from South Africa in the 1970’s, he was faced by an uncomfortable reality which he had long forgotten. As a permanent resident of Johannesburg, he lived in a small flat which nonetheless included an indoor toilet with all its necessary facilities. While visiting his homeland, he would also spend some days at his brother-in-law’s house in the village of Domvraina. He found that the toilet he had to use was a shabby little hut perched on a hill and which had no electricity. When he complained about this to his brother-in-law (who by the way was a KKE member), this was the answer he would receive: “Does your bum need light so as to shit?” (Translated). On returning to South Africa, the particular rhetorical question was to circulate amongst the barber’s compatriot immigrants with some degree of haughtiness. But back in the early-1960’s, the barber’s own Aliartian toilet had itself been a totally “primitive” structure: it amounted to four poles forming a miniscule square and covered all round by bush, while a leaking sheet of corrugated iron formed its roof. The floor was a level surface of shrubs and stones.

These historical developments – which remain to be further verified for their accuracy – show the real socio-cultural drama of a people trying to enter the new post-war “modern” world. And while for many professional historians such data may be ignored as ‘trivial’ (the role of the Stephanopoulos government in the 1960’s, for instance, would be considered more ‘historically significant’), these very ‘trivial’ developments – regarding the conditions in which one defecates – would actually secrete within themselves, not only the levels of remuneration clinched in Collective Bargaining Agreements, but also the socio-cultural clashes in the minds of people between the old, traditional habits of “primitive” hygiene and the new, “modern”, technologically-supported practices protecting people from disease, etc. The latter practices would be a tangible material progress (in the Habermas sense) which would constitute the absolutely necessary hygienic/sanitary-cultural infrastructure for the functioning of the middle class milieu “ego”, and especially for that up-and-coming young “ego” of the “Amalia-type”. The popular middle classes would be introduced to modern hygiene per se in a variety of ways – but the most powerful and most widespread means would be the positive material content of advertisements in the 1960’s. (Obviously, these would be the most effective because manufacturers producing appliances and gadgets related to the toilet would of course use highly effective techniques so as to sell on a mass basis.)

For a verification of the role of advertizing in this field, we may consider the following sample promoting a device related to the toilet in 1965:

«ΤΩΡΑ… ΕΛΥΘΗ ΤΟ ΠΡΟΒΛΗΜΑ ΤΗΣ ΚΑΚΟΣΜΙΑΣ
ΤΩΝ W.C. ΧΑΡΙΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΛΒΕΤΙΚΗ ΣΥΣΚΕΥΗ EXODOR
… Δηλούμεν υπευθύνως και εγγυόμεθα ότι
απορροφά και εξουδετερώνει την κακοσμίαν
εν τη γενέσι της. Εξασφαλίζει πολιτισμένην
εμφάνισιν, καθαρήν ατμόσφαιραν, υγιεινές συνθήκες
(και αυτός ακόμη που χρησιμοποιεί το W.C. δεν
υφίσταται την κακοσμίαν που αναγκαστικά
δημιουργείται)… Πώλησις στα καταστήματα ειδών
υγιεινής και στην αντιπροσωπεία EXODOR…
Πράκτορες δια τας επαρχίας» (cf. Apogevmatini,
6.10.1965, p. 6).

Reading such an advertisement out of its historical context would most probably be a rather indifferent exercise – but if one keeps in mind what has been said above about the outdoor toilet and its concomitant practices, one realizes the extent of the technological revolution which was underway in uprooting whatever vestiges of the “natural” and the “primitive”. In fact, little to no trace of the “natural” remains bar the human act of defecation itself – this was to be an altogether new form of human behaviour and a new experience of hygiene which would come to complete the “New Type”. The discourse of this advertisement is centered on the following three absolutely new concepts, heretofore unheard of as regards the Greek popular masses:

  • The emphasis on modern-day “obvious” hygiene: «καθαρήν ατμόσφαιραν» and «υγιεινές συνθήκες»;
  • The now “natural” need to obliterate what was once an absolutely “natural” fact of life in the outdoor toilet, i.e. the «κακοσμίαν» – here, as in all things concerning “modernity”, we would have a radically new definition of the “natural” (and thus of “Nature” per se) in the minds of the Greek popular masses themselves;
  • For the very first time in Greek popular practices, the naturally necessary and raw act of defecation would be directly related to “civilization” («πολιτισμένην») and to ‘aesthetics’ («εμφάνισιν»).

The advertisement above also allows us to make two other observations: first, it introduces Greeks to the “global”, more genteel term “W.C.”, rather than using the perhaps more banal «τουαλέτα» (or the even more unrefined term, «καμπινές»). More importantly, we note that the toilet product being promoted – and therefore also the concepts which accompany it – would be circulating all over the country, given the network of agents extending to the “periphery”.

Re-locating the toilet indoors would be both expensive and a complex technical matter, and which can explain the relative delay in the process. To facilitate such process, a series of advertisements would appear which had just one simple object in mind: to inform people of the availability of the technological means to undertake the implementation of the task, and to assure them that any economic problem could be regulated.  Consider the following short and simple ‘notification’ of the availability of technical services which appeared as early as 1959-1960 (and which was most probably addressed either to Athenians or to the more well-off residents in the “periphery” such as the family of Halimoudras’ friend) – it read as follows:

«ΣΠΥΡΙΔΩΝ ΛΑΡΙΤΖΑΚΗΣ…
Τελεία εξυπηρέτησις δι’ υδραυλικάς
εγκαταστάσεις,… και είδη υγιεινής
με ΕΥΚΟΛΙΑΣ ΠΛΗΡΩΜΩΝ»
(cf. Η Καλλιθέα…, op. cit., p.333).

But it was especially by the early-1970’s that there would be a proliferation of such advertisements. By then, the whole structure of the W.C. would begin to undergo a complete change for very many “average” Greek families – what used to be merely a private spot for defecation and urination (without a single trace of any superfluous “luxury”), would now include all the necessary appliances to maintain the body clean and beautiful: the bath-tub and the washbasin would now be added. A 1971-1972 advertisement, entitled «ΥΔΡΑΥΛΙΚΑ ΕΙΔΗ ΥΓΙΕΙΝΗΣ», would include a full-page illustration of a W.C. which includes all the modern-day paraphernalia – the mirror would play a central role in such room, allowing the “New Type” to reflect on the final triumph of such “type’s” unique individuality(cf. Άστυ Καλλιθέας, op. cit., p.138). Cleanliness and hygiene would be promoted as the essential pre-conditions for personal beauty – even as early as 1966, the Akropolis would be carrying advertisements advising people on what they should be doing in their toilets apart from satisfying their natural needs. Usually depicting a young lady in front of her washbasin, advertisements would further promote the toothpaste – consider the following:

«Για λευκά και γερά δόντια χρειάζεται
μόνον… Kolynos… και λίγη φροντίδα…»
(cf.  Akropolis, 15.1.1966, p. 30).

It is quite true that very many advertisements promoting various “brand-name” toothpastes would belong to that category of highly “manipulative” discourse which we shall examine below as being “provocative-interventionist”. But it is as true that the vast majority of the Greek people in the 1950’s and 1960’s would find themselves suffering from tooth decay at a fairly early age and many would later either be more or less toothless or would take to wearing false-teeth. All had little idea of dental hygiene and very many would completely ignore their teeth. Some would rinse their mouth after eating with a glass of water to which a pinch of salt had been added. As many would become conscious of their teeth only after the pain caused by gingivitis would become unbearable and then they would take to rinsing their mouth with “ouzo”. Thus, whatever the degree of “manipulation” in toothpaste advertisements, they would all be helpful in introducing people to dental hygiene, and this would constitute their positive material content. The necessity for the use of toothpaste was a new “natural” given – the “manipulation” was itself an inevitable phenomenon caused by the competition between different manufacturers. (Concerning the emergence of the “modern” in-door Greek toilet and all that went with it, we might as well refer here to a literary work partly devoted to this matter and published in 1970 – cf. Μ. Hakkas, Ο μπιντές και άλλες ιστορίες, 2η Έκδοση, Κέδρος; translated in English in 1997 by A. Mims, Heroes’ Shrine for Sale or The Elegant Toilet, Kedros.)

. . . . . . . . .

The washing machine, the fridge, the kitchen stove, the electric heater, etc., as also that wholly new room within the house which would substitute the outdoor toilet – all of these things put together would radically change the material and cultural reality of Greece in the course of the post-war years. The changes in material infrastructure, we have suggested, going hand-in-hand with changes in socio-cultural practices, would together form one combinatory whole, and which would be the middle class milieu as such. In turn, this would yield a new sense of time and a new sense of entertainment. We have, throughout this paper on Amalia Eleftheriadou and her milieu, placed great emphasis on the youthful revolution of the 1960’s and how this would give birth to new entertainment practices – here, we very briefly wish to record how the advent of the modern technological appliances promoted by advertizing – as also advertizing itself – would release a new “modern” comprehension of time, on the part of the popular masses, which would combine very hard work with as much ‘hard play’ outside the workplace (sometimes within it as well – cf. 12η προφορική μαρτυρία: Γιωργία Κρεμμυδά, Aliartos, 10.5.2009).

Asimakis Panselinos (op. cit.) contrasts the pre-“modern” to that of the “modern world” by making the following stark observation with respect to the question of entertainment:

«Η διασκέδαση δεν είχε πάρει ακόμα
τα νόμιμα δικαιώματά της στη ζωή»
(p. 25).

We have already referred to Papanoutsos above (Πρακτική Φιλοσοφία, op. cit., p. 220), who had supported that the new technological appliances and their gradual wide usage by the “average Greek” would provide for «ευκολίες ζωής, άνεση και ψυχαγωγία». And we have already mentioned how the extremely hard-working Anna Papaspiropoulou at Kokkino Mylo would combine all-night entertainment with extremely hard work both at home and at the factory. The Aliartian barber, himself an extremely hard-working person who would often illegally operate his barber-shop at Aliarto on Sundays, would nonetheless as often crawl back home in the small hours of the morning in a state of intoxication after having entertained himself in various tavernas with friends. And Vangelio Kalomiri (op. cit.) would relate how she and her husband Spiros would regularly entertain themselves at Aliarto:

«Αλλά ήταν καλός άνθρωπος ο Σπύρος…
Και πέρασα κι ωραία μαζί του…
Τα πρώτα δέκα χρόνια με πήγαινε και
για καφέ, και στις ταβέρνες…
Σε όλες τις ταβέρνες του Αλιάρτου εμείς
πήγαμε πρώτοι… Πώς…» (cf. 20th interview,
op. cit.).

Advertizing discourse at the time would itself ride the wave of this popular need for entertainment in a variety of ways. We present below a rather non-representative sample of such advertizing – and we do so because it interestingly expresses a rather satirical disposition as regards the relationship between entertainment and Party politics in 1965, which was of course a highly turbulent period. Published in the “conservative” newspaper, Akropolis, this lengthy but highly amusing advertisement – it is about amusement – went as follows:

«ΚΟΣΜΙΚΗ ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ
Ο ΓΕΡΟΒΡΑΧΟΣ…
Ο ΓΝΩΣΤΟΣ ΣΑΣ ΚΥΡΙΑΚΟΣ ΣΑΣ ΠΡΟΣΚΑΛΕΙ ΓΙΑ ΕΝΑ
ΑΞΕΧΑΣΤΟ… REVEILLON
ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΚΑΤΑΠΛΗΚΤΙΚΗ ΡΕΒΥ ΠΙΣΤΑΣ
ΓΙΟΡΤΙΝΟ ΨΗΦΟΔΕΛΤΙΟ
ΥΠΟΨΗΦΙΟΙ ΤΗΣ ΒΡΑΔΥΑΣ [:]
ΩΣ ΠΡΟΕΔΡΟΣ ΚΥΒΕΡΝΗΣΕΩΣ… ΣΟΥΛΗ ΣΑΜΠΑΧ
ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΜΟΝΑΔΙΚΗ ΒΕΝΤΕΤΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΙΤΑΛΙΚΟΥ ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΟΥ
ΩΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΝ ΕΞΩΤΕΡΙΚΩΝ… RENNA FILIPPINI
ΩΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΝ ΔΗΜ. ΣΧΕΣΕΩΝ… ΤΟΥΛΑ ΛΑΜΑΡ
ΩΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΝ ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑΣ… ΑΝΝΑ ΓΑΛΑΝΗ
ΩΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΝ ΔΗΜ. ΤΑΞΕΩΣ… ΑΝΤΖΕΛΑ ΔΟΥΚΗΣΑ
ΩΣ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΝ ΑΝΕΥ ΧΑΡΤΟΦΥΛΑΚΙΟΥ… ΑΝΔΡΕΑ ΜΑΚΟΥΛΗ
ΔΙΑΠΕΠΙΣΤΕΥΜΕΝΟΙ ΠΡΕΣΒΕΥΤΑΙ ΤΟΥ ΤΟΠΟΥ ΜΑΣ [:]
ΧΡΗΣΤΑΚΗΣ ΣΤΑΘΑΤΟΣ – ΜΙΡΑΝΤΑ ΜΟΣΧΟΥ
ΜΕ ΤΟ ΜΠΟΥΖΟΥΚΙ ΤΟΥΣ
ΥΠΟΥΡΓΙΚΟΝ ΣΥΜΒΟΥΛΙΟΝ ΕΝ ΧΟΡΩ [:]
ΜΟΡΦΗΣ                      ΤΑΣΣΟΣ ΚΥΡΙΑΚΟΣ
ΗΡΩ ΣΙΜΟΝΟΒΙΚΗ      ΜΑΡΟΥΣΚΑ ΜΑΡΤΕΝ
ΒΟΥΛΗ ΤΟΥ ΓΕΡΟΒΡΑΧΟΥ Η ΟΡΧΗΣΤΡΑ ΣΤΑΥΡΟΥ ΡΟΥΧΩΤΑ
ΕΠΕΡΩΤΩΝ ΒΙΟΛΙΣΤΗΣ… ΣΩΤΗΡΗΣ ΜΠΟΝΤΟΣΗΣ
ΠΡΑΚΤΙΚΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ… ΜΙΛΤΟΣ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΙΔΗΣ ΑΔΩΜ
ΠΡΟΕΔΡΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΒΟΥΛΗΣ ΓΕΡΟΒΡΑΧΟΥ Η ΤΖΙΝΑ ΒΟΥΛΓΑΡΗ
ΔΙΑ ΝΑ ΠΑΡΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΗΣΕΤΕ ΤΗΝ… ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑΣΙΝ ΤΗΣ ΒΟΥΛΗΣ
ΤΟΥ ΓΕΡΟΒΡΑΧΟΥ ΤΗΛΕΦΩΝΗΣΑΤΕ ΣΤΟ … ΔΙΑ ΤΟ ΤΡΑΠΕΖΙ ΣΑΣ.
ΔΙΕΥΘΥΝΤΗΣ ΤΗΛ. ΚΕΝΤΡΟΥ Ο ΚΥΡΙΑΚΟΣ»
(cf. Akropolis, 24.12.1965, p. 2).

This advertisement is ‘responding’ to and ‘playing’ with the dramatic events of that year: in the face of on-going political instability, it suggests that people simply entertain themselves by watching the «συνεδρίασιν της Βουλής του Γεροβράχου», which – it is implying – is much more pleasant and much more ‘competent’ as regards its purposes than is the Greek Parliament when it comes to its purposes. Like the advertisements promoting heating appliances which we have discussed above, and which were in direct response to the bitterly cold winter of 1965, so here too, this «ΚΟΣΜΙΚΗ ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ-qua-ΒΟΥΛΗ» advertisement is a direct reflection of the political conjuncture of the period, albeit in typically Greek satirical form. People wanted a stable government and which would represent them democratically – instead, Prime Minister Papandreou resigns on July 15 of that year, the following day the government of Athanasiadi-Nova is sworn in, then the demonstrator Sotiris Petroulas is killed in clashes with the police that same month, by August the King makes continual attempts to set up a government without calling for elections, then we had the Stephanopoulos government by September 24, and then just four days prior to the publication of the advertisement in question, the ΕΡΕ leader withdraws his support of that government and a caretaker government takes over and the political crisis goes on like that till April 1967. But while all this was happening at the Party-political level, the as real everyday life of the popular masses was itself also happening. The «ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ» advertisement is aware of this other reality and tries to redirect the strictly political attention of people towards what was a socio-cultural need of the masses themselves for entertainmentit does not and cannot ignore politics: it re-interprets the latter by articulating a discourse which combines entertainment with somewhat latent political satire. Such combination was itself a direct mirror-image of mass popular consciousness, whether “Left”, “Center” or “Right”(interestingly, the Akropolis mainly targeted “Right-wingers”). It remains an open research question as to what came first in the minds of the broad masses of people at the time – was it work, play, sex or politics? We know that as regards youth at least, sex and entertainment was their top priority (bar the “activists”, who were of course always in the minority). For the older generations, politics was always something much discussed amongst themselves (they had lived the Civil War), and thus the advertisement in question tries to effect the “combination” between politics and entertainment we refer to. Its discourse was therefore an organic part of the milieu of the 1960’s.

We have said that the dawning “modern” world of 1960’s Greece would yield a new conception of time, and which would mean – especially for youth – a more “frenzied” use of free time. Advertizing discourse would again be directly responding to this new reality – such advertizing could often take the form of “articles” in popular periodicals (something which had also happened with the promotion of fashion houses, as we have discussed above). We shall present here just one such sample of the thousands of advertisements promoting music records in the 1960’s (cf. our paper on youth and music). In 1967, the periodical Vendeta [Βεντέτα]would carry the following “article”-cum-advertisement:

«ΝΕΟΙ ΔΙΣΚΟΙ…
“ΑΪ ΚΑΝ ΟΝΛΥ ΓΚΙΒ ΓΙΟΥ ΕΒΕΡΥΘΙΝΓΚ”:
Μεγάλος τίτλος και “μεγάλα” λόγια σαν
νόημα (“Μπορώ να σου δώσω τα πάντα”)
του νέου δίσκου των γνωστών μας Άγγλων
μακρυμάλληδων “Δέμ”. Περιττό να λεχθή,
ότι πρόκειται για ένα ζωηρούτσικο σέϊκ,
 που ξετρελλαίνει τους “τήνς”…»
(cf. Vendeta, No 92,
10.2.1967, p. 17, my emph.).

We well know, of course, what Greek youth would do on purchasing – or having access to the sounds of – that beloved 1960’s artifact, the music record (whether at home-parties or at various entertainment spots, such as the «σφαιριστήρια» of Aliarto). The advertizing discourse would promise teenagers that the music would “madden” them – and the promise would be frenziedly verified on the spot. Advertisements, in other words, would here be perpetrating the perfect murder – but this would only be a murder of Panselinos’ pre-“modern world” which had kept entertainment away from the popular masses. In 1966, the well-known Greek journalist, Nikos Mastorakis, would undertake to research the question of youth entertainment in the “periphery”. Publishing his ‘findings’ in the daily Mesimvrini [Μεσημβρινή], he would conclude:

«Η ΣΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ νεολαία… [in the “periphery”] έχει
διαφορετικά στρώματα, με κοινά ενδιαφέροντα.
Απ’ την “χάϊ σοσάϊτυ”, που σπουδάζει, μέχρι την
εργατική νεολαία …, οι διαφορές καταργούνται
μπροστά στους κοινούς τρόπους διασκεδάσεως
και στην εξίσωσι των ωρών και των ελευθέρων
απασχολήσεων». (cf. Mesimvrini, 29.1.1966,
p. 9).

Now this is all too obviously a “Right-wing” propagandistic little text meant to convince readers of the “equality” that in the last instance characterized all youth whatever their class origins – and yet, despite the distortions, it does express half of the truth, as it also does somehow capture the idea of free time/entertainment amongst youth of the 1960’s. It is absolutely true that we have, throughout this research work on the “Amalia-type”, supported the position that 1960’s-1970’s youth constituted a special “social category” (in the Poulantzian sense), and which meant that its socio-cultural practices would be relatively autonomous of the objective class position to which different groupings of that youth would belong.  All members of that “social category” could, for instance, have listened to the songs of “The Beatles”, and in that specific sense, the Mastorakis “position” could be said to be accurate. But the “autonomy” of youth vis-à-vis socio-economic class position could only have been relative – the popular masses which would come to express the middle class milieu cannot in any way be reduced to what Mastorakis superficially names “high society”, and neither can the socio-cultural practices of the popular masses be absolutely reduced to those of the socio-economic élites. As alluded to above, the working Amalia Eleftheriadou could not possibly have listened to “The Beatles” and responded to their lyrics in a manner similar to that of Marakis’ non-working daughters. The specific emotional response to such music by Amalia would have also been determined, apart from her age, by her material conditions and her state of mind as an A&M company employee. Even the eyeing of an advertisement promoting a music record would have evoked a special response: she would know that she could only listen to such music on finishing her work at the office (the Marakis daughters had never set foot in the factory); and she would also know that unless she worked, she may not have afforded any music record. Thus, for the “Amalia-type”, hard work and play went hand-in-hand.

As regards entertainment and the popular masses, there were various gradations of working people along the end-points of two extremes: at the one extreme end of the scale, there were those who would completely ignore whatever ‘sirens’ promoted by advertisements (be that fashion-trends, the latest in music, entertainment centers, etc.), and would devote themselves wholly to hard work. Consider, for instance, the case of G. Zygoyiannis, who was a “Practical Mechanic” at the A&M Mill, and had worked there from 1947 through to 1982 – his “work ethic” (also discussed in our papers on the A&M Mill workers) would take an extreme form, which he has described as follows:

«Τις Κυριακές, άμα δε δουλεύαμε στον Μαράκη,
θα πηγαίναμε στην Κωπαΐδα με τα αδέλφια μου
να ξεφορτώσουμε κάνα αυτοκίνητο, όσο ήταν.
Γι’ αυτό σου λέω, ο Μαράκης μας έβαλε σε σειρά,
δουλεύαμε. Εγώ χαίρομαι να δουλεύω. Ήταν κέρβερος,
μας κυνήγαγε, αλλά μάθαμε πειθαρχία. Σχολή ήταν ο
Μαράκης, σαν να βγάζεις μια σχολή… Το πρωί ξημέρωνα
εκεί, κι έφευγα το βράδυ» (cf. 18η προφορική μαρτυρία,
Αλίαρτος, 19.7.2009).

Zygoyiannis would belong to that group of hard-working Greeks who would ultimately establish their own businesses (his colleague, Angelos Arapitsas, was another such “type” – cf. 10η προφορική μαρτυρία, Αλίαρτος, 12.4.2009). Even as youngsters – from what we understand – they would rarely find the chance to share in the ‘fun’ of teenagers. At the other extreme end of the scale, we would have “types” such as Anna Papaspiropoulou and the Aliartian barber who could kill themselves working as much as they could kill themselves dancing (Anna) or drinking (the barber). This would not prevent the former from establishing her own «κουτούκι» and the latter from running his own barbershops. Of course, there were very many in-between cases who would find some sort of balance between work and play. In the last instance, all these people – whatever their “sub-types” regarding entertainment – would form that collectivity which expressed the middle class milieu. Advertizing discourse on how one should spend his free time would either have a direct positive influence or would be ignored: in both cases, people would be fulfilling their own wishes.

What has been called the “Golden Age” of the 1960’s was also experienced as such by the children at the time, and advertisements would play a major role in “manipulating” children’s wishes to experience the ‘miracles’ of such “Age”. The Aliartian Giannis Statiras, born in 1956, was in his pre-teens in the 1960’s – this is what he had to say of that period in a discussion which took place at his Aliartian «ψιλικατζίδικο» in 2013:

«Η Δεκαετία του ’60! Εγώ αυτή θέλω. Τώρα
δε μου αρέσει. Μπορεί να έχουμε κινητά,
διάφορα, αλλά εμένα δε μου αρέσει! Εγώ
τη δεκαετία του ’60 θέλω, γίνεται να γυρίσω
πίσω και να μείνω εκεί;  Ήμασταν όλοι μαζί
τότε, ήταν αλλιώς» (cf. 24η προφορική
μαρτυρία [an open group-discussion], Αλίαρτος,
7.7.2013).

But Giannis Statiras especially could not himself enjoy the ‘fruits’ of that “Golden Age”: his father, being a “Left-winger”, could not land a job after spending years in prison (though he did work at the A&M Mill for five years). The Statiras family «έζησε μεγάλη φτώχεια» (ibid.), and the boy, who usually went hungry, could only but gaze at advertisements promoting manufactured toys. But the idea of a manufactured toy was, in any case, something absolutely revolutionary in the minds of most Aliartian kids – like Statiras himself, the most that these could really do in the early-1960’s was to look at and dream of the magnificence of such all-new artifacts advertized in periodicals such as the Romantso and in daily newspapers. Some could go one little step further: the Aliartian barber’s kids would cut out pictures of advertized toys and stick them on walls and windows. The time would come when, in the course of that 1960’s period which had so fascinated Statiras, kids would once in a while be treated to a manufactured toy by their parents. But roughly prior to the mid-1960’s, Aliartian children would have to make do with home-made/hand-made toys. For instance, hand-made catapults for bird-hunting would be very popular amongst them. As popular would be the old wooden roller skate ‘manufactured’ by the kids themselves – i.e. that «χειροποίητο πατίνι με τις ρόδες από παλιά ρουλεμάν» which «εκτός των άλλων Accesoire, είχε και το φρένο του» (cf. Giannis Simonetis, Θησείο – Γειτονιές που χάθηκαν [Theseion – Lost Neighborhoods, Εκδόσεις Φιλιππότη, Athens, 1991, pp. 46-52). Amongst smaller kids, the so-called “bicycle” would be popular – that would be a mere piece of stick with some paper-flag and other paraphernalia attached to it and kids would clutch its ends and run screaming around the neighborhoods. Also popular would be the «στεφάνι» which, according to Simonetis (ibid.), had been “in fashion” since the fifth century B.C., was popular through the war-years and its use would continue thereafter till the 1960’s – Simonetis describes its “modern” version as «Το … παιχνίδι με “στεφάνι” από παλιό λάστιχο αυτοκινήτου» which was made to roll along with the skillful use of a stick (ibid., p. 49). Aliartian kids would also fly hand-made kites (the elementary materials for their ‘manufacture’ would be newspapers, sticks and flour). Also popular would be the use of large watermelon shells to build ships and boats.

One could go on with further examples – but the point to make here is that in all such cases children’s imagination would be stretched to its “natural” limits. As soon as the periodical and the newspaper would bombard them with advertisements of the manufactured toy (where, for instance, a real ball would take the place of a tin can), then these very “natural” limits – as mental activity – would begin to question themselves: their “stretch” as such – however ingenious – would soon reveal its own “poverty”. The socio-cultural revolution of the 1960’s, bolstered by the new advertizing discourse for kids, would yield the up-and-coming “New Type-junior”: as soon as parents would be able to secure food and warm clothes for their off-spring, the next “natural” step would be to allow them to taste the cultural fruits of the “Golden Age”. For this “New Type-junior”, of course, “culture” would translate into “toys”, and the positive material content of advertizing discourse addressed to children would play a central role in re-defining children’s own “aesthetic-eidetic stretch”. The experiences of such “modernistic eidetic aesthetics” would at some point converge with the experiences of the “modernistic youth aesthetics” of the “Amalia-type” and would much later yield the more matured form of the middle class milieu of the late-1970’s. The child of the 1960’s and the teenager of that same period would together form the generational nucleus of social pioneers for what was to come.

Newspapers such as the daily Apogevmatini would be much read by adults at Aliarto in the 1960’s (reading the “Left-wing” Avgi [Αυγή] would automatically drive them to the local police station) – and the kids of Aliarto would always have ready access to such advertisement-laden publications. In 1965, Apogevmatini would carry advertisements such as the following:

«ΠΑΙΓΝΙΔΙΑ ΚΟΥΚΛΕΣ ΜΠΑΛΛΕΣ ΠΟΔΟΣΦΑΙΡΟΥ
… εις πλουσίαν συλλογήν. Πώλησις χονδρική
και λιανική. Αφοί Παπαφράγκου…»
(cf. Apogevmatini, 14.12.1965, p. 7).

The discourse of this little piece of text does not include whatever form of “manipulative” language – and yet, it would come to alter relations between the old and the very young: boys would no longer make do with tin cans for their neighborhood football matches; girls would no longer wish to “play mother” with dolls made of pieces of rags. Once, sometime in 1963, a crowd of little Aliartian girls would celebrate what was for them a major event: one of them had discovered somewhere in the cotton-fields a real plastic doll (the fact that one of its limbs was missing did not at all dampen their spirits). Kids who had never seen or touched such artifacts would very naturally demand that they do so.

In discussing advertisements promoting furniture, we had fully rejected whatever references these would make to “personal happiness”, suggesting that such a concept – whatever its assumed effect on the ‘sub-conscious’ – would be both meaningless and unconvincing to adults. For some commentators of the period – especially those belonging to the “Left” – such reference to “happiness” in advertizing discourse would constitute an attempt at “manipulation”, and would yield ‘false consciousness’. We have already dealt with such over-simplifications – but even if we were to acknowledge that there is some truth in such interpretations as regards adults, we would completely reject any such approach when it comes to the emphasis placed on “happiness” in advertisements addressed to children. Of course that type of discourse would truly abound in the 1960’s. We may consider the following advertisement which appeared in 1959-1960:

«ΤΟ ΜΥΣΤΙΚΟ ΤΗΣ ΧΑΡΑΣ ΚΑΘΕ ΠΑΙΔΙΟΥ
ΤΟ ΚΑΤΕΧΕΙ ΤΟ ΕΡΓΑΣΤΗΡΙΟΝ
ΠΡΩΤΟΤΥΠΩΝ ΠΑΙΓΝΙΔΙΩΝ
ΧΡΥΣΤΟΥ ΜΠΡΙΝΟΥ…»
(cf. Η Καλλιθέα…, op. cit., p. 335).

This simple little advertisement, with its almost predictable stress on “happiness”, is addressing itself to the “New Type-junior” who could and often did feel quite “happy”, and especially so when the child would handle a new toy. We are of course not suggesting anything original – Freud, in his Civilization and its Discontents [greek edition: Ο Πολιτισμός – Πηγή δυστυχίας, Επίκουρος, Athens, 1974), had observed:

«Δεν είναι παράξενο που οι άνθρωποι
κάτω από την πίεση … των δυνατοτήτων
του πόνου συνηθίζουν να μειώνουν την
απαίτησή τους για ευτυχία… [etc.]»
(p. 17).

The specifically Greek version of the 1960’s “Golden Age” – with all its miseries, its contradictions and the generalized ‘angst’ – would force all Greeks to do exactly what Freud suggests: in the process of getting older and older, they would gradually place more realistic and more minimalistic demands on themselves as regards their wish for happiness (and that is the reason why advertisements addressed to adults and trying to sell “happiness” could not have been that convincing). But prior to reaching the stage of adulthood – and especially when they still remained children – such ‘habit’ as Freud calls it would not as yet have caught up with them. One of the Aliartian barber’s kids had felt deep joy on receiving a toy sent to him by his well-off godfather, and felt as deep a sorrow on losing it (he can still remember the occasion to this day, in his late fifties). It was to such authentic childhood emotions – well beyond all class hierarchies – that advertisements would be addressing themselves. Here, the ‘positive content’ of discourse would not be ‘material’ as such and not at all ‘practical’ – meant to materialize a child’s eidetic “Dreams”, this particular type of advertizing discourse would be of a positively authentic immaterial dream-content. For the first time, however, such content would be “modernistic”.

It is in such context that the following 1965 advertisement should be understood – whatever its latent “manipulative” intentions, all of what it says expresses that specific ‘positive content’ related to the ‘world’ of a child:

«ΣΤΟ ΤΜΗΜΑ ΜΑΣ ΠΑΙΧΝΙΔΙΩΝ
ΖΩΝΤΑΝΕΨΑΜΕ ΤΑ ΠΑΡΑΜΥΘΙΑ!
Η χαρά των παιδιών είναι το
παιχνίδι. Χαρίστε σπάταλα ευτυχία
στα παιδιά δωρίζοντας παιχνίδια
απ’ τα παιχνίδια μας. Χιλιάδες
παιχνίδια απ’ όλον τον Κόσμο…
ΑΓΟΡΑΖΕΤΕ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΠΑΙΧΝΙΔΙΑ ΣΤΑ
ΠΑΙΔΙΑ! ΜΑΘΑΙΝΟΥΝ ΝΑ ΣΚΕΠΤΩΝΤΑΙ,
ΝΑ ΜΑΣΤΟΡΕΥΟΥΝ ΚΑΙ ΝΑ ΑΓΑΠΟΥΝ…
ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ…»
(cf. Akropolis, 12.12.1965, p. 5).

Of course, it goes without saying that such an advertisement – published in December – would be directly exploiting the festive season of the year. It also goes without saying that while it could bring authentic happiness to an Aliartian child (Statiras would be starving both for food and for toys), it could at the same time cause authentic misery to a hard-working parent who was still struggling to make ends meet: for the latter, his child’s “happiness” would translate into the question of cash. Yet still, if the declared Greek family income had come to an overall 30.392 million drachmas in 1967, it would reach a total of 66.870 million drachmas by 1971 (cf. “Statistical Yearbook”, op. cit., p. 6).

We may end this very brief note on the question of toys by pointing out that whatever has been said above may be compared and contrasted to a rather interesting article written by the poet Kostis Palamas in 1916 and entitled «Τα παιγνίδια μου» [“My toys”], in Τα Χρόνια μου και τα Χαρτιά μου – Περασμένα Χρόνια [“My Years and My Papers – Years Past] ΑΘΑΝΑΤΑ ΕΡΓΑ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗΣ ΛΟΓΟΤΕΧΝΙΑΣ, No. 8, ΜΠΙΡΗΣ-ΓΚΟΒΟΣΤΗΣ, undated, pp. 470-472.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 In discussing the positive material content of 1960’s advertizing discourse in Greece, we noted that it would reflect a relative lessening of physical exertion on the part of the popular masses. Similarly, we noted a concomitant relative increase in people’s free time in certain domains of everyday life (outside the workplace), as also a new understanding and usage of such free time. We have also suggested that such post-war changes would themselves be part and parcel of the rise of a new ‘aesthetics’. To end this sub-section, we shall dwell a bit more on this issue involving ‘aesthetics’.

It was, inter alia, the material content of advertizing discourse at the time which would both reflect and further enable (or allow for) the rise of a new mass ‘aesthetics’ and a new mass culture, and it would do so to the point of “democratizing” – as Hobsbawm (The Age of Extremes, op. cit.) has shown – “The Arts” as such.

That the post-war masses would come to “share” in the domain of the arts was also fully recognized by Horkheimer and Adorno (op. cit.). But we need notice the manner in which they would acknowledge such new reality – even as early as 1947 they would write:

«Η πολιτιστική βιομηχανία μπορεί να
είναι περήφανη ότι διεξήγαγε με
αποφασιστικότητα τη συχνά αδέξια
μεταφορά της τέχνης στη σφαίρα της
κατανάλωσης ανάγοντάς τη σε
αρχή…» (op. cit., pp. 224-225).

Such bitter irony – «μπορεί να είναι περήφανη» – is of course quite unworthy both of philosophers and of historians: what one would expect of them is, firstly, to objectively record this major historical event (as does Hobsbawm), and secondly, to try to explain the particular form such «μεταφορά» would take given the prevailing socio-economic conditions in a specific country. That the «μεταφορά» was «αδέξια» – and especially so in underdeveloped, “traditional” societies such as Greece – may have been more or less unavoidable. And it was not merely the contradiction-ridden transitionality of Greek society that would make the process «αδέξια» – Greek manufacturers and advertizing companies were themselves entering an as yet unknown terrain.

Like Horkheimer and Adorno, Roupa (op. cit., p. 265) looks down on and rejects this event in toto as (what we would call) a “foreign provocative-interventionism” – she speaks of a «ξενόφερτη αισθητική». The extent to which such new ‘aesthetics’ was/was not an “interventionism”, the extent to which the popular masses would themselves accept/reject such “interventionism”, etc. – these are all questions left unanswered. But before we examine the question of “interventionism” and the question of “compromising adjustments” and “balances” maintained in advertizing discourse, we simply need to record one basic historical fact: by at least 1956, and for the very first time in the economic history of Greece, all Greek manufacturers were being urged by their central organ – ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s Paragogikotis – to try and find some “balance” between the question of their “profits” and the question of “aesthetics” in their products. The ΣΕΒ organ would try to “re-organize” the “ideology” of all manufacturers by advising them as follows:

«Η συνεχής προσπάθεια διά την βελτίωσιν
των διαφόρων ειδών, τα οποία, καθημερινώς,
διοχετεύονται εις την κατανάλωσιν, δεν
 ανταποκρίνεται μόνον εις υπαγόρευσιν
 θεμιτού συμφέροντος. Πέραν του, αποφασιστικώς,
 επιδρώντος οικονομικού παράγοντος, υπάρχει
 και το κίνητρον εκείνο, που κάμνει τον
 κάθε πραγματικόν δημιουργόν να θέλη
 τελειότερον, αρτιώτερον και ωραιότερον το
 έργον του. Έτσι η παραγωγικότης, η οποία
σκοπεί εις την ποιοτικήν βελτίωσιν είναι
αφ’ εαυτής προικισμένη με τον ψυχικόν
δυναμισμόν της δημιουργίας και αποδεικνύεται
εκδήλωσις εντελώς σύμφωνος με την ανθρωπίνην
έφεσιν, διά την πρόοδον» (cf. Paragogikotis,
Νο 13, Athens, June-August,
1956, p. 29, my emph.).

This “proposal” to Greek industry, coming from ΣΕΒ’s ΕΛΚΕΠΑ – and which would be repeated in a variety of different ways – is of historical importance: it would mean that for the first time, in Greece itself and since the 1950’s, the Greek popular masses were to begin to share in the ‘aesthetics’ of the period, and as these were embodied in consumer products. Such “proposal” was based on an understanding of what the popular masses themselves wished and demanded: as we shall further see below, ΣΕΒ would place great emphasis on the need to know what the consumer felt and wanted, seeing the selling/buying process as a two-way relationship between manufacturer and consumer. Now, if such initiation to ‘aesthetics’ happened to be a «συχνά αδέξια μεταφορά» (Horkheimer-Adorno), that was simply because both parties were as yet unprepared for the new milieu – hence, precisely, the need on the part of ΣΕΒ to “ideologically” re-educate its own members through such “proposals”.

Of course, we well know that it was not merely Greek industry which would help inject mass culture into the everyday lives of the Greek people. International artifacts – with a specifically ‘global’ trade-mark – would themselves enter the lives of people and further deepen the exposure to mass ‘aesthetic’ culture (and that is why Roupa’s complaint about the «ξενόφερτο» does tell us half of the truth – but to tell the whole truth any sociological analysis should in any case first cease being a complaint). Amongst the very many ‘global’ artifacts introduced to Greek society on a mass scale in the 1960’s, there was one which would perhaps most importantly symbolize the advent of mass culture, the active participation of people in such culture, and which would help raise the overall “intellectual” level of the popular masses themselves. This artifact – ingenious in its very simplicity, cheap and thus available to everyone – was of course the ball-point pen. In 1965, the Akropolis would carry the following advertisement:

«ΜΕΓΑΛΥΤΕΡΗ ΠΟΣΟΤΗΤΑ ΜΕΛΑΝΗΣ
ΠΕΡΙΣΣΟΤΕΡΑ ΧΙΛΙΟΜΕΤΡΑ ΓΡΑΦΗΣ
BiC
λεπτής γραφής… ΔΡΧ. 3.50
… με άφθαρτη μπίλλια…
ΣΑΣ ΔΙΔΕΙ ΤΟ ΦΘΗΝΟΤΕΡΟ ΓΡΑΨΙΜΟ
ΤΟΥ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ» (cf. Akropolis,
30.11.1965, p. 2).

The purchasing and use of the ball-point pen by the Greek popular masses would spread like wildfire throughout the period. Perhaps one of the most revolutionary of inventions of the “modern” world, this particular artifact would function as a tool of communication which would urge “common” Greeks to express their thoughts in writing: it would therefore constitute a means whereby the “average” Greek would actively participate in a cultural practice which would raise his “intellectual” level by simply putting pen to paper. The discourse of the above advertisement would thus include a clearly ‘positive content’ in that the artifact advertised would do exactly what was promised – i.e. it would literally yield an endless series of «χιλιόμετρα γραφής». One need simply page through the A&M Archives to immediately verify such «χιλιόμετρα»: simple working people, relatives and friends would send letters to Marakis himself for a variety of reasons – workers would write about their complaints regarding work conditions; relatives and friends about the possibility of landing a job at the factory, and so on and so forth. One interesting case is that of Elena Tsolakidou (cf. our paper investigating her case), who was Marakis’ goddaughter and who was to soon also become an employee at the A&M company by 1964. While still residing at Sidirokastro in Crete, she would send her godfather/future boss numerous letters in the early-1960’s that would read as follows:

«Δεν ξέρετε Νουνέ πόση χαρά αισθάνομαι,
όταν παίρνω γράμμα σας. Χαρίζετε λίγη
ζωή στην μονότονη ζωή μου… [etc.,etc.]».

And even Elena’s father – a half-educated Cretan peasant – would himself put pen to paper and communicate with Marakis, and he would do so effectively despite his endless spelling and other language errors (thus, for him, letter-writing would also be an unconscious exercise in self-education). For the younger letter-writers, such as the high school-educated Elena and Amalia, writing as such would also be an exercise in ‘aesthetics’. This would be especially so as regards Amalia Eleftheriadou – one is truly astounded by the ‘aesthetic’ calligraphy of her hand-written job-application submitted to Marakis on the 27th of June, 1966. Again, and generally speaking, the use of the ball-point pen in people’s free time – a practice which would happen right across all social strata – would further re-define one’s understanding of time per se. (On the question of letter-writing in 19th century England, cf. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, op. cit., p. 55.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

The positive material content of advertizing discourse in the 1960’s and early-1970’s would have the positive material effect we have described – it would, in other words, reflect (as both cause and as result) the material comforts that the popular masses were only just beginning to enjoy. But the content of advertizing discourse-as-a-Whole would not always be ‘positive’: the relative autonomy – and at times even ‘anarchy’ – of such discourse could also yield extremities and “imbalances” in its images and messages which would have to be ‘ordered’ by structures such as ΣΕΒ. The struggles for such ‘order’ would not always be successful, as we shall see below.

GLOSSARY

NOTES:
● «… έκανε διασκέδασι την φροντίδα του μαγειρεύματος»: the task of cooking was now made entertaining
● «… ν’ ανανεώνει… τα σκεύη του…»: to renew his/her household appliances
● «10.000 ΘΕΡΜΙΔΩΝ»: 10.000 thermal units
● «CANDY ρομπότ»: “CANDY [brand name] robot”
● «άγνωστη αλλά αηδιαστική λέξη»: an unfamiliar but gross-sounding word (with reference to the term «λουτροκαμπινέ», meaning the w.c.)
● «αδέξια»: awkward
● «αισθητική»: aesthetics
● «αληθινή κραυγή»: real scream
● «ΑΜΕΡΙΚΑΝΙΚΟΝ ΠΡΑΚΤΟΡΕΙΟΝ ΤΥΠΟΥ…»: American press agency
● «απήλλαξε»: relieved
● «ατομικών δυνατοτήτων εκλογής»: individual capacity to choose/select
● «Βαγγελίτσα»: the diminutive for the Greek female name Evangelia
● «βολικός άνθρωπος»: an accommodating person
● «ΓΙΑ ΤΕΛΕΙΟ ΝΟΙΚΟΚΥΡΙΟ»: for the perfect household
● «Δεν είναι η ανατομία του πιθήκου που εξηγεί την ανατομία του ανθρώπου, αλλά η ανατομία του ανθρώπου που εξηγεί εκείνην του πιθήκου»: It is not the anatomy of the ape that explains the anatomy of humans, but the anatomy of humans that explains that of the ape.
● «διακοσμημένες πληγές»: decorated/embellished wounds
● «Δριμύτατον ψύχος»: harsh cold
● «εγώ δεν ήξερα καν τη λέξη»: I had never even heard of the word
● «έδιωξε κάθε σκοτούρα»: has done away with all worries
● «έζησε μεγάλη φτώχεια»: lived in great poverty
● «Εκεί μέσα τοποθέτησε τα όνειρά της»: it was therein that she placed her dreams
● «ΕΜΕΙΣ ΑΝΤΑΛΛΑΣΣΟΜΕΝ τα παλαιά σας ΨΥΓΕΙΑ… αγοράζοντας τα ιδικά σας σε τιμές απίστευτα υψηλές…»: we exchange your old fridges… buying them at unbelievably high prices
● «ένα είδος φτηνού κωλόχαρτου, όχι σε ρολό αλλά σε μάτσο χαρτιά»: some sort of cheap toilet paper, not in a roll but in a bunch of pieces of paper
● «έπιπλα πραγματικά για νέους»: furniture truly intended/specially made for young people
● «ευγένεια»: gentleness/gentility
● «ευκολίες ζωής, άνεση και ψυχαγωγία»: ease, comfort and entertainment
● «Ευρυτάνες»: Eurytanes, inhabitants of Evritania, part of the region of Central Greece
● «ΕΥΡΩΠΑΪΚΟΥ ΤΥΠΟΥ»: European type (or model)
● «η τσάκιση είχε μεγάλη σημασία»: the razor-sharp crease in trousers, etc., was of great importance
● «ΘΕΡΜΑΣΤΡΑ…»: heater
● «ιστορικότητα»: historicity
● «καθαρήν ατμόσφαιραν»: clean air
● «κακοσμία»: bad odour
● «ΚΟΣΜΙΚΗ ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ-qua-ΒΟΥΛΗ»: tavern-qua-parliament; the term «ΚΟΣΜΙΚΗ» suggests that the tavern specializes in the organization of various social events, such as the celebration of marriages, baptisms, etc.
● «κουτούκι»: tavern, something approximating a shebeen
● «λουτρά μεγαλεία»: w.c. glamour, grandeur
● «ΛΟΥΤΡΟ ΞΕΝΩΝ»: visitors’ w.c.
● «ΜΕ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΜΕΤΑΦΡΑΣΗ»: in Greek translation
● «μέσα στον άγριο Χειμώνα»: in the (heart of the) fierce winter (free translation)
● «μεταφορά»: transference, conveyance (of the arts to the sphere of consumption)
● «ΜΟΝΟΝ»: only
● «μπορεί να είναι περήφανη»: (the culture industry) can be proud
● «νεανικό»: youthful
● «ξενόφερτη αισθητική»: foreign aesthetics, imported from outside Greece
● «ξυλόσομπες»: wood-burning stoves
● «Ο Στόχος»: “The Target”.
● «ΟΙ ΜΙΜΗΤΕΣ ΜΑΣ είναι πολλοί»: our imitators are many
● «Οίκοι ανοχής στην “πολιτεία της ανοχής”»: “Brothels in the city of tolerance”.
● «όλοι βιομηχανοποιούν»: everyone is engaged in mass manufacturing
● «Ομοσπονδία Ιδιωτικών Υπαλλήλων Ελλάδος»: Greek Federation of Private Employees
● «ΟΣΟ ΚΟΣΤΙΖΕΙ Ο ΠΑΓΟΣ και η δόσις του ξύλινου…»: (an electrically-powered fridge) costs as much as a block of ice together with the installment for the wooden icebox
● «όταν εσείς απουσιάζετε»: in your absence/when you are absent
● «παγωνιέρα»: icebox, an insulated cabinet packed with ice (or, rather, with a large block of ice) for storing food
● «παλιά γκαζιέρα πετρελαίου»: old primus stove
● «παράγκα»: shack
● «ΠΑΤΡΟΝ»: patterns for dressmaking and drawing templates; paper patterns
● «περιβάλλον»: setting, atmosphere, milieu
● «πετρόμυλο/ριζόμυλο»: stone mill/rice flour mill
● «προσωπικότητα»: personality
● «προσωποποιούμε»: personalize/personify
● «προφορική μαρτυρία»: oral testimony
● «σαν κρεμμύδι»: like an onion
● «σκέπτεται μόνη»: it thinks by itself (independently of its user)
● «σοφρά»: the sofras is a Greek traditional low table
● «σταμάτα τη μπουγάδα»: stop doing the laundry yourself (free translation)
● «ΣΤΕΓΝΩΝΕΙ»: it dry cleans
● «Στεμένια»: Stemenia, the name of a natural spring, located in the northeastern outskirts of the Aliartian Acropolis, facing Lake Copais
● «συνεδρίασιν της Βουλής του Γεροβράχου»: session of Gerovrahos’ Parliament; Kyriakos Gerovrahos was the proprietor of the tavern, here referred to as “Parliament”
● «σφαιριστήρια»: billiard centers
● «ΣΦΟΔΡΟΤΑΤΗ ΚΑΚΟΚΑΙΡΙΑ»: severe weather conditions
● «ταχείας θερμάνσεως»: rapid heating
● «Τέλειο σε όλα»: perfect in every way
● «ΤΕΛΕΙΟ»: perfect (as also indicated above)
● «τεχνικαί εγκαταστάσεις»: technical installations
● «Το κρύο άλλοτε και τώρα»: the cold, then and now
● «Το μέλλον διαρκεί πολύ»: “The future lasts forever”.
● «Το πεθαμένο λικέρ»: “The dead liqueur”.
● «Το… παιχνίδι με “στεφάνι” από παλιό λάστιχο αυτοκινήτου»: the term «στεφάνι» refers to a ring or hoop – it would be an old car tyre that would be rolled along. Similar to hoop rolling or hoop trundling, a child’s game.
● «τουαλέτα»: toilet
● «Τώρα… έγιναν όλα πιο εύκολα»: now everything has become so much simpler/easier (free translation)
● «υγιεινές συνθήκες»: sanitary conditions
● «ΥΔΡΑΥΛΙΚΑ ΕΙΔΗ ΥΓΙΕΙΝΗΣ»: plumbing, sanitary ware
● «Υπάλληλος»: Clerk
● «Υπεροψία και μέθη»: “Arrogance and intoxication”.
● «υψηλό κόστος που έπρεπε παλιότερα να καταβάλλει η μάζα του πληθυσμού… στις διαστάσεις της σωματικής εργασίας…»: the high cost/price that the masses had to pay in the past with respect to the different forms of physical exertion/labour (free translation)
● «φανάρι-τροφίμων»: storage cupboard for food
● «χαρούμενο»: joyful
● «χιλιόμετρα γραφής»: kilometers of writing
● «χρονική μήτρα»: temporal womb
● «χρονοδιακόπτη»: time switch/timer
● «χωρίς επίβλεψη»: without any supervision
● «ψιλικατζίδικο»: corner shop

ATTEMPTS AT MAINTAINING “BALANCES” WITHIN THE GREEK ADVERTIZING DISCOURSE

One may wish to insist that the Greek popular masses of the 1950’s, the 1960’s and the early-1970’s were so absolutely bamboozled by those magic and novel words of advertisements which bombarded them – those letters which «αναβοσβήνουν σε χρώμα παπαγαλί και η ατμόσφαιρα γύρω πρασινίζει» (Daskalpoulou, op. cit.) – that they were in fact being reduced to a bleating mass of obsequious Sambos whose only concern was to satisfy their lower instincts (Karandonis, op. cit.). The implication would be that here we had a massive tabula rasa on which advertizing discourse could write the history of a people. As one looks back in time – and as one also considers the political turbulence of the period – such an evaluation of the history of a people sounds extraordinary.

Such an approach wants to forget one essential fact, at least as regards the “average” Greek of the period: these people possessed a knowledge of things Greek. Now this may sound like a truism, but when one considers what it was that they knew, one realizes that such object of knowledge could not possibly have been ignored by the new advertizing discourse. There would be times when the knowledge of the popular masses would cross swords with the intentions of advertisements, and there were times when such knowledge would adapt itself to the new, and vise versa, etc. But the very idea of a people as a tabula rasa is ipso facto ludicrous.

What was it that the “Amalia-type” truly knew? And why is it that such object of knowledge would inevitably come face to face with advertizing discourse? Let us consider here just one case (by way of an example of just such knowledge) – in 1961, Koeppen (op. cit.) would make the following observation:

«Οι Έλληνες ξέρουν να μαγειρεύουν»
(p. 34, my emph.).

Such «ξέρουν» constituted a series of techniques accumulated through the ages (we have already noted above that social historians have yet to research the history of Greek cooking practices). Now, the food industry, the advertizing of food products and thus the very content of related advertizing discourse, would have no choice but take such knowledge into account – i.e. such «ξέρουν» would have to be taken into consideration through a series of necessary “compromises”, “adjustments” and “balances” in their advertizing discourse. And they would have little choice but take such popular knowledge seriously if only because of the quality of the end-product of that knowledge. As to the end-product of Greek cooking, we may here consider the observations of Chrysa Kyriakati, who was a resident of Aliarto from 1956 to 1962, and who, belonging to the Aliartian social élite, could at first only evaluate the cooking practices of the popular masses from some objective distance – this is what she says:

«Το απόγευμα που τελειώνανε τα γραφεία
[headquarters of the Lake Copaїs Organization],
και πριν θερίσουν τα στάχυα, περνούσα από
ένα δρόμο όπου βρίσκονταν οι παράγκες των
εργατών – ξέρετε αυτές οι τσίγκινες… Ακόμα
 θυμάμαι τι ωραία που μύριζε το φαγητό,
 μαγειρεμένο λαδερό φαγητό…» (cf. 13η προφορική
μαρτυρία, Χρύσα Κυριακάτη, Βούλα, Αθήνα,
26.5.2009, my emph.).

What Koeppen has to say for the Greek cuisine generally, Chrysa Kyriakati verifies for the «εργάτες» of Aliarto in the 1950’s and early-1960’s. These popular masses would not be obsequiously vulnerable to any one-sided “intervention” questioning their eating habits by whatever “modern taste”. In direct contrast to such circumstances, a young lady such as Chrysa herself – she was in her twenties when she stayed at Aliarto – could perhaps have been much more vulnerable to that type of “intervention”, given her own socio-cultural circumstances. Being the daughter of someone who had happened to be «από τους μεγαλύτερους βαμβακέμπορους στη Λιβαδειά» (ibid.), she never had to cook and did not therefore possess that practical knowledge which young ladies such as an Amalia would have acquired directly from her mother. Chrysa would very openly speak of such real ignorance and clearly explain the reason for it:

«Όταν μου έλεγε ο Νίκος [her husband] να
έρθω μαζί του στον Οργανισμό, του έλεγα
“Εγώ τι να έρθω να κάνω στον Αλίαρτο; Εγώ
την γκαζιέρα δεν ξέρω ν’ ανάβω”… Και πώς
να ξέρω, στη Λιβαδειά είχα υπηρέτρια»
(ibid., my emph.).

It would not only be Chrysa’s objective class position that could, perhaps, have made her more ‘open’ to any one-sided promotions of “modern taste” – it would above all have been the absence of the knowledge and the ritual of preparing Greek foods which could have allowed her to receive advertizing messages in a manner that the “Amalia-type” would not. But precisely because cooking practices were so deeply and almost universally ingrained within the Greek “soul” (so to speak), even Chrysa herself would be bewitched by the Greek cuisine and advertizing discourse would have to keep such gastronomic proclivities of the “Chrysa-type” in mind as well. We have already noted her love of the workers’ «μαγειρεμένο λαδερό φαγητό». But we may further observe, not only how she would behave, while still at Aliarto, when circumstances would force her to cook, but also what she would in fact cook – laughing, Chrysa described her anxiety about her need to prepare a meal and related the occasion as follows:

«Κάποια μέρα, ο Κονίτσας, που ήταν τότε
στο υπουργείο Συγκοινωνιών, ήρθε μαζί με
τον πρόεδρο της Βουλής, τον Πλατή από τη
Λαμία, για κάποια εγκαίνια στον Αλίαρτο.
Λέει ο Πλατής στον άντρα μου “Εγώ μόνο την
κορδέλα θα κόψω, και θα φύγω, θα έρθω
σπίτι σας να φάω. Πες στη Χρύσα να φτιάξει
ένα φαγητό”. Θυμάμαι, έφτιαξα ντολμάδες
και κοτόπουλο με πατάτες – είχαμε μιλήσει
πια τότε ξανά με τους γονείς μου… [we
therefore presume that Chrysa must have
followed her mother’s advice on how to
prepare such foods]. Λοιπόν, στο Χρυσό
είχαμε κτήματα με ελιές, κι εκεί βγάζουν αυτές
τις μεγάλες, τις λαδοελιές, μεγάλες σαν
φυρίκια. Ο Κονίτσας ήταν από την Αράχοβα,
κι εκεί έχουν κάτι ελιές τόσες δα. Στρώνω το
τραπέζι, βγάζω κι ένα βαθύ πιάτο με 10-15
ελιές. “Τι ’ναι αυτά;” ρωτάει ο Κονίτσας, “Ελιές
είναι” λέω. Παίρνει εκείνος δύο πιάτα, τις
μοιράζει με τον Πλατή, ξεκίνησαν πρώτα με
ελιές κι ύστερα έφαγαν» (ibid.).

We may observe that, despite Chrysa’s own social background, despite her husband’s professional status (he was the «Τμηματάρχης Προμηθειών» of the «Οργανισμό»), and despite their guests (both belonging to the political élite), the young lady would still choose to prepare a traditional Greek meal for the occasion. This suggests the ‘universality’ of the traditional Greek cuisine at the time – as to such reality, we may here quote the following text on the traditional eating habits of the European peoples in the 1970’s, which was published in a Δελτίον ΣΕΒ in 1979 and which went as follows:

«… “ΕΥΡΩΚΟΥΖΙΝΑ”: ΙΔΑΝΙΚΟ ΕΥΤΥΧΩΣ ΑΝΕΦΙΚΤΟ
ΓΙΑ ΤΙΣ ΕΝΝΕΑ ΧΩΡΕΣ – Διατηρούν τις γαστριμαργικές
τους παραδόσεις και την εδεσματική ποικιλία τους…
Η “Ευρωκουζίνα” – ευτυχώς – μπορεί να θεωρηθεί
χιμαιρική προοπτική. Εάν το πρώτο αυτό συστατικό
“Ευρώ” ταιριάζει σε πολλές επιτεύξεις και επιδιώξεις
της Κοινότητας (ευρωνόμισμα, ευρωδιαβατήριο,
ευρωμόρφωση κλπ. κλπ.) περί… ευρωορέξεως, δεν
μπορεί να γίνει λόγος. Οι Ευρωπαίοι εννοούν να
διατηρήσουν την εθνική τους κουζίνα, και να μη
αποστούν από τα γαστριμαργικά και συμποτικά τους
πάτρια…» (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ, No 405, 15.5.1979, pp. 21-22).

Despite such ‘universality’ of the Greek popular cuisine, we should of course not forget that there was also a stark class-based differentiation in the quality and quantity of food consumed (cf. 23η προφορική μαρτυρία, ΚΑΠΗ Αλιάρτου, 6.7.2013, where the food served at the Kriba taverna – basically frequented by Aliartian workers – is described as follows: «… κουκιά με λάδι,… ρεβίθια και τέτοια, όσπρια. Για εργάτες»). Yet still, we may say that the traditional eating habits of the Greek popular masses had seeped through class differences and continued to be savored by the social élites. It was the practical knowledge of the popular masses and the universal appreciation of the end-product of such knowledge («λαδερό φαγητό», «ντολμάδες», «λαδοελιές», etc.), which the food industry could not ignore and which advertizing discourse would have to take into account.

When “modern” foods and tastes were to enter the Greek market, their promoters would be confronted with an already existing and well-established local food industry which was fully responding to and organically expressing the traditional eating habits of the popular masses. We may here consider one such local manufacturer, that of the «Βιομηχανία Συσκευασιών Ήλιος», a company born and bred in Greece and which therefore fully knew what the Greeks themselves knew when it came to the popular art of gastronomy (all data relating to this company are taken from http://www.ellines.com/epixeiro/7499-fusika-proionta-upsilis-poiotitas-apo-to-1919/#sthash.mzhniicw.dpuf). Established as early as 1919, «Helios» would even then be entering «μια αγορά που έτρεχε ήδη». It would specialize in the making of various spices for the highly seasoned Greek dish – as regards the 1920’s, we read:

«Όσο για την πελατεία, αυτή απαρτίζεται από
μπακάλικα και παντοπωλεία της εποχής, τα
οποία αγοράζουν αρχικά το εμπόρευμα χύμα
και κυρίως πιπέρι, κανέλα, γαρύφαλλο και
μπαχάρι, προϊόντα με τη μεγαλύτερη ζήτηση
την δεκαετία του ’20».

And with reference to the 1960’s:

«… καθοριστική είναι από τα μέσα της δεκαετίας
του ’60 η εισαγωγή στην αγορά τού καρίνο ως
μυρωδικό στο μαγείρεμα των κοτόπουλων».

However “manufactured” these spices were, or however “new” («εισαγωγή»), they were all produced on the basis of a close understanding of the highly traditional gastronomic tastes of the Greek popular masses – whatever “newness” was itself a careful development of these pre-existing tastes. As such, the products of «Helios» were either of the people or were organically related extensions/developments of their socio-gastronomic culture: here, we had no real ‘surprise’, let alone any “provocation” of the eating habits of Greeks. Generally speaking, foreign food companies entering the Greek market – and especially when it came to marketing their “modern” products – could not ignore either «Helios» or its well-established network of long-time consumers.

«Helios», moreover, had also developed its own special ways of promoting its products, placing special emphasis on its packaging methods. Speaking of the late-1920’s, we read:

«… [The founder of the company] κατάφερε
να αφήσει το στίγμα του σχετικά γρήγορα,
υιοθετώντας για την εποχή μεθόδους καινοτόμες
γύρω από το πλασάρισμα των μπαχαρικών…
Εκτός από το χύμα, άρχισε να λειτουργεί και
η ιδέα της καρτέλας. Μίας μεγάλης λευκής
καρτέλας, στην οποία κολλούσαν μικρά λευκά
φακελάκια, με διαφορετικά μπαχαρικά το
καθένα, σε κάθετη μορφή ανάλογα με το προϊόν.
Έπεφτε το ένα φακελάκι πάνω στο άλλο και ο
μπακάλης τράβαγε αυτό που ήθελε ο πελάτης
και του το έδινε. Ήταν ο πρώτος ο οποίος εισήγαγε
αυτή την καρτέλα και τη συσκευασία της εποχής».

By 1960-1961, the founder’s son undertakes to truly modernize the packaging process:

«Σαν απόφοιτος της Ιωνιδείου Σχολής και μετά
τελειόφοιτος της Εμπορικής Σχολής… [the son] εξ
αρχής έβλεπε με διαφορετικό μάτι την ανάπτυξη
της βιομηχανίας. Αρχίζει λοιπόν να ψάχνεται
γύρω από το μπαχαρικό, θέλοντας να ξεφύγει από
τα τετριμμένα. Και εκείνο το κάτι άλλο ήταν να
φέρει το ’60-’61 την πρώτη γερμανική μηχανή
συσκευασίας, σηματοδοτώντας μία κίνηση πρωτοπόρο,
 καθώς δεν είχε σκεφθεί κανείς ότι θα μπορούσαν
αυτά τα φάκελα που τα κολλούσαν στο χέρι να
συσκευαστούν σε μηχανή και μάλιστα 24 ή 36 φάκελα
ανά κουτί. Σε 3-4 χρόνια ίσως και λιγότερο, φέρνει
και δεύτερη μηχανή, ενώ στο ξεκίνημα της δεκαετίας
του ’70 υλοποιεί τη συσκευασία σε μπουκάλι και
πλέον αρχίζει το δούναι και λαβείν με τα σούπερ
μάρκετ…» (my emph.).

 

The influx of the foreign “modern taste” in foods (Roupa’s «ξενόφερτο», op. cit.) would therefore be faced with two pre-given realities: first, the as yet dominant traditional socio-cultural gastronomic practices amongst the popular masses; and second, a well-rooted local food industry that was already starting to modernize itself. The new advertizing discourse related to food products in the 1950’s and 1960’s would therefore have to try and maintain certain “balances” with respect to both of these intertwining realities.

Our observations thus far on Greek eating habits may seem to suggest that the “average” Greek would merely resist the “modern taste”: of course – and as in the case of all other “modern” products – nothing could be further from the truth (and that, despite what the Δελτίον ΣΕΒ had to say about the persistent traditionality of the European cuisine in the 1970’s, it being only half the story). We have seen how the “New Type”, being precisely that, would come to make its own decisions as regards things “modern” – we have noted how the ex-“Leftist” Nikolaidis (op. cit.) would assert: «Ο μέσος άνθρωπος… ήδη παίρνει τις αποφάσεις του», and his decision would be to enter the “modern world” of consumption, and thus of “modern taste”. Now, one could argue that such decision-making was somewhat “naïve”, in the specific sense meant by Freud – as he puts it: «οι άνθρωποι ζουν γενικά το παρόν τους σαν με κάποια αφέλεια» (op. cit., p. 77). But we can only accept such “naiveté” in the specific sense meant by a historian such as Hobsbawm – for him, «Τα περισσότερα ανθρώπινα όντα λειτουργούν σαν ιστορικοί: μόνο αναδρομικά αναγνωρίζουν τη φύση της εμπειρίας τους» (and therefore the long-term consequences of such experience remain, at least for some period of time, unknown, cf. The Age of Extremes…, op. cit., p. 329). But that does not at all stop them from making at least fairly measured decisions on the spot and for themselves. Thus, when the “average” Greek would decide to also turn to the “modern taste” – food included – he would demand that he know what he would be consuming (or eating). Neither turning his back to his traditional eating habits, nor shying away from experimenting with the “new”, he would act neither “naively” nor blindly.

As regards such demand for knowledge in the early-1960’s, Roupa (op. cit., p. 263) very interestingly notes (but without drawing the necessary conclusions):

«Ο ελληνικός λαός αποζητούσε την ενημέρωση
σε ό,τι αφορούσε θέματα “λάιφ στάιλ” και
σύμφωνα με τον Θεοφύλακτο Παπακωνσταντίνου
“κατά τη μεγάλη πλειονότητά του ήταν
επαρκώς ενημερωμένος…» (my emph.).

Roupa and Papakonstandinou – the latter was writing in 1963 – may not use the term «ενημέρωση» in the exact same context as that which we are here discussing, though «λάιφ στάιλ» may be broadly taken to mean eating habits as well. But in any case we do know that the “average” Greek did want to be informed on new food products, at least judging by how food manufacturers, old and new, were responding to their market. We have already seen how «Helios», well back in the 1920’s, had been using the idea of its «καρτέλα» in its packaging system so as to help buyers and sellers, not only identify a specific spice, but also allow them to have a complete picture of the full range of spices available. By the 1950’s, in some similar – but slightly more advanced – manner, the ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ organ, Paragogikotis , would itself also be advising manufacturers to pay special attention to the packaging of their products, and with a special emphasis on the importance of informing consumers. In 1956, the periodical would carry an article entitled «Η καλή συσκευασία», and part of which read as follows:

«Είναι γνωστόν πόσο μεγάλη σημασία
αποδίδεται στην Αμερική στην καλή
συσκευασία, όσο και ασήμαντο αν είναι
το πωλούμενον προϊόν… Οι νέοι τρόποι
συσκευασίας αποβλέπουν εις το να ενημερώσουν
 αμέσως τον πελάτη περί του περιεχομένου,
 της ακριβούς ποσότητος αυτού, των ειδικών
 χαρακτηριστικών του και της αξίας του…» (cf.
 Paragogikotis, No 12,
Athens, April-May 1956, p. 47, my emph.).

Three basic observations may be made regarding this mid-1950’s text:

  1. Here, it is not the ‘obsequious’ popular masses who are turning to the «ξενόφερτο», but the ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ organ itself – but, then, who in the Western world at the time could possibly deny the acquired knowledge of an American industry which stretched back to the 19th century with vast corporations such as those of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Harriman, Mellon, Guggenheim and, of course, Ford? (cf. J.K. Galbraith, The New Industrial State, op. cit., pp. 21-22).
  2. What was such acquired knowledge telling the Greek manufacturer? To begin with, it was speaking of the importance of a «καλή συσκευασία» for whatever product, and was therefore pressing manufacturers to become appearance-conscious as regards their products, and which brings us back to what we have said above as regards the need to re-educate Greek capital around the question of embodying “mass aesthetics” in their products.
  3. But most importantly, such ‘aesthetic appearance’ would be «καλή» if and only if it also satisfied the need of the consumer for detailed information about the new product: «Οι νέοι τρόποι συσκευασίας αποβλέπουν εις το να ενημερώσουν αμέσως τον πελάτη…». We should not forget that much of Greek commercial capital was introducing the Greek consumer to foreign and as yet unknown products, and therefore the need for information on the part of the popular masses was well nigh inevitable. Much of Greek manufacturing capital was itself involved in assembling and/or finishing off the production of foreign products based on a ‘patent’, and therefore, here too, the need to inform was called for.

Now, if it was true that the popular masses did not as yet know the new products, it was as true that the manufacturers of these new products were themselves ignorant of how such masses would respond to their products – it would not do to simply try and “manipulate” a mass of people whose wishes remained unknown: you cannot “manipulate” a “vacuum”, and ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ suspected just that. Ultimately, therefore, the advertizing companies would themselves be urged by ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ to undertake an investigation of the needs of the Greek consumer: just as the popular masses had to be informed, so too, the advertizing sector would have to inform itself. The process would be a two-way dialectical interaction, and its central object would be to try to maintain a “balance” in the socio-cultural signifiers composing advertizing discourse.

The role of ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ in this process would be made difficult by an extremely complex set of circumstances and which, as we shall see below, would not prevent an appearance of highly “interventionist”, even at times insultingly “provocative” advertisements (though these would only be one part of the story). But before we examine the ‘ideology’ of ΣΕΒ itself – as this was articulated by Paragogikotis – let us very schematically simply point to some factors which made things difficult for ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ in the 1950’s and 1960’s to create and maintain “balances”:

  1. As an “ideological organizer” of Greek Capital-as a-Whole, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would try to co-ordinate that internally contradictory Whole by urging it to align its advertizing discourse with a mass of consumers who were themselves composed of internally contradictory social segments, ranging – inter alia – from the young “Amalia-type” to the older, war-scarred generations.
  2. Within such Whole, there would be sectors of capital which, given their international strength and monopoly or oligopoly presence in world markets, could function “anarchically” when it came to articulating advertizing discourse (we use the term “anarchic” in a manner faintly reminiscent of its use by Marx in discussing Capital). Asserting their relative autonomy vis-à-vis the rest of Greek capital, their advertizing discourse would at times be highly “provocative” and “interventionist”, and such marketing techniques could also at times lead local advertizing companies to a mimicking of such techniques.
  3. Other sectors of foreign or semi-foreign capital, planning to establish a more long-term presence in the Greek market, and engaged in competition with a traditionally well-rooted, endogenous non-monopoly capital – especially in the food and clothing industries – would opt for a more “compromising” advertizing discourse which aimed at “adjusting” to the special socio-cultural context of the Greek case.
  4. There were many other – in-between – cases which would dominate numerically and whose advertizing discourse would be determined by specific factors such as: (i) the nature of the particular product they were promoting; (ii) the nature of their particular target-group; (iii) the degree of competition regarding the particular product; (iv) their habitual style of advertizing; and (v) their advertizing budget (though what one says in an advertisement is of course completely independent of whatever cost).

As is quite obvious, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ could not possibly establish some uniform order of discourse within such internally contradictory disorder, and in any case the very nature of advertizing discourse itself, in its interaction with consumers, would be an ‘ideological’ battlefield of forward thrusts and retreating compromises. What ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would try to do, in the terrain of advertizing-discourse-as-a-Whole, would be to urge the advertizing sector to undertake an investigation of different methods of promotion; it would try to introduce new “models” of advertizing discourse meant to establish new relationships with the Greek consumer, and with a special emphasis on a “balanced” two-way relationship between producer and consumer. Much of this work on the part of ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ was done through the organization of seminars and lectures, to which various business functionaries were invited to participate. Here, in our attempt to examine how ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would try to balance the extremes of “provocative intervention” and “compromising adjustment”, we shall mainly focus on the printed material available in the periodical Paragogikotis .

Above, in our sketchy presentation of the history of advertizing in Greece, we had noted that ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ were, by 1958, in the process of establishing a “Greek Marketing Association”. Its stipulated object – «διά την βελτίωσιν των μεθόδων εμπορίας» – was to investigate methods which would determine advertizing discourse for the Greek context, and thereby regulate the field of discourse in a manner which would listen and respond to the needs of the “average” Greek.

Through such an “Association”, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would try to explain to all sectors of capital operating in Greece that the Greek consumer was not a ‘tabula rasa’ or a ‘vacuum’ pliable according to the one-sided profit-needs of businesses. Quite unlike the Greek ‘Marxists’, it would not look down on any ‘alienated’ masses as potential objects of “manipulation” – rather, it would approach them as an up-and-coming subject which would soon be a social power to be reckoned with. And unlike individual capitals, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s relatively all-encompassing «πανοπτισμός» (loosely in the Foucaultian sense, but only as applied to relations within Capital-as-a-Whole) would allow it to go beyond their single-minded thirst for profit. Precisely so as to introduce such concepts – and their concomitant business/promotional practices – to the Greek field, it would make use of what we have elsewhere referred to as the “Danish Model”. The presentation and discussion of such “model” would enable it to warn all individual capitals of the rising consumer consciousness of people such as the “Amalia-type” – a consciousness which would place demands on the quality of products. ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s Paragogikotis would try to prefigure such reality of the Greek consumer as a socially powerful subject by presenting to all entrepreneurs operating in Greece what was already happening in Denmark by the late-1940’s. As in Greece of the 1950’s, so also in Denmark of the 1940’s, manufacturers would at first try to ignore the wishes and needs of the “average housewife”. But that, explains  Paragogikotis, would cause a wave of dissent amongst Danish women-consumers, which would lead to their self-organization, as also to ultimate State intervention. It is of major interest here to observe how the central organ of Greek-based Capital adopts a thoroughly sociological approach – which any Marxist at the time would envy – as regards the reaction of the popular masses in the face of the abusive excesses of various capitals. By referring to the popular mobilization of the Danish woman-consumer, Paragogikotis is in fact trying to put itself – and especially individual capitals – in the shoes of the “Amalia-type” and her mother, calculating what these were capable of doing were Greek-based manufacturers to ignore them. Part of this long text reads as follows:

«Αι οικοκυραί εν δράσει

Αυτό το κύμα των διαμαρτυριών προεκάλεσεν
το 1947 την σύστασιν της Επιτροπής Αγοραστών,
μιας οργανώσεως υποστηριζόμενης υπό του
κράτους. Η επιτροπή αυτή ζητεί όπως καταστή
δυνατή η αγορά καλλιτέρων εμπορευμάτων…
[etc]» (cf. Paragogikotis, No 13, Athens, June-August, 1956, p. 26,
my emph.).

In the case of Greece, it would only be by 1970 that the first consumer organization would be set up (INKA/Consumer Institute), and it was by 1982 that the ΚΕ.Π.ΚΑ. (Κέντρο Προστασίας Καταναλωτών) would also be established. It was not so much the establishment of formal consumer organizations that really concerned ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ – they would probably have welcomed that – but the possible “waves of dissent” amongst Greek consumers, and which could also take the form of at least unconsciously “boycotting”/staying away from certain products. For ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ, the only way to avert such circumstances was to call on individual capitals to maintain certain “balances” between themselves as producers and the “Amalia-type”/her mother as consumers. To get their message across to Greek-based capitals, they would again make use of the Danish case, which would show how Danish manufacturers would ultimately have to respond to consumer dissent, despite initial conflicts between the parties involved. In Denmark, manufacturers and traders had no choice but to respond to the dissent and to establish a certain compromising “balance” –Paragogikotis continues:

«Οι εμπορευόμενοι
 δίδουν προσοχήν.

Η Επιτροπή Αγοραστών αρχίζει αμέσως να
συνεργάζεται με το Εθνικόν Συμβούλιον Οικιακής
Οικονομίας, το οποίον αναλαμβάνει να δοκιμάζη
τα οικιακά είδη, δια να αποφασίση την απόρριψιν
ή την έγκρισίν των. Συγχρόνως απεστάλη μία
κοινοποίησις εις τους βιομηχάνους υποδημάτων,
υφασμάτων και προϊόντων διατροφής, η οποία τους
προσεκάλει να παρουσιάσουν εις την αγοράν
εμπορεύματα καλής ποιότητος και καλώς
εναρμονισμένα. Κατ’ αρχάς τα δύο ενδιαφερόμενα
μέρη ήσαν μάλλον το εν εναντίον του άλλου,
αλλ’ ολίγον κατ’ ολίγον επανεμφανίσθη είς υγιής
συναγωνισμός εις το εμπόριον και αρκεταί ιδιωτικαί
επιχειρήσεις κατ’ αρχήν, ακολούθως δε και αι
οργανώσεις των διαφόρων κλάδων της βιομηχανίας,
 ανεγνώρισαν το όφελος το οποίον θα είχον με την
 ικανοποίησιν των απαιτήσεων των αγοραστών»
(ibid., p. 27, my emph.).

Through the presentation of this “Danish Model”, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ are in fact urging private capitals operating in Greece to do the following interrelated things:

  • Take the needs of the Greek consumer seriously – listen to consumer demands («Οι εμπορευόμενοι δίδουν προσοχήν»).
  • Enter into a relationship of cooperation («υγιής συναγωνισμός») with the consumer and adjust your products to his demands.
  • Produce commodities that stand up to quality tests.
  • Accept the idea of independent testing of products – allow State organs to undertake such tests.
  • Allow State organs to act as go-betweens in your relationship with consumers.
  • In fact, accept that State intervention is necessary to help maintain “balances” between you and the consumer.
  • Generally, satisfy consumer demands («ικανοποίησιν των απαιτήσεων») – doing so will in fact benefit you too.
  • Doing all this could give rise to difficulties and conflicts between you, the State organs, and the consumer – but remember such conflict will be temporary and will only occur in the initial phases of the process of adjustment.
  • In any case, such process is inevitable («αλλ’ ολίγον κατ’ ολίγον επανεμφανίσθη…»).

As we shall soon see, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ shall be saying the same things, not only as regards the quality of products, but also as regards the quality of advertizing discourse and methods of promotion. But, in any case, it is quite natural that if a product had to inscribe within itself the wishes and demands of the consumer, such material inscription would also be projected within the representations of the discourse. Here, manufacturers would not need to “intervene provocatively” through their advertisements so as to find potential buyers – on the contrary, advertizing discourse would here merely express the a priori wishes of the consumer. In such case, therefore, we would not have – as Adorno et al had wanted people to believe – a “manipulatively” imposed product “from above”: both product and the discourse promoting it would emanate (if not wholly, at least partly) from the wishes and needs of the popular masses (and, therefore, such discourse would also have to be in the language of the popular masses).

But if a manufacturer were to decide to produce a product which expressed the needs of the consumer, he would have to get to know such needs – and, as we have said, it would be one of ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s basic objects in the 1950’s and 1960’s to try to re-educate private capitals precisely on this matter. The “Danish Model” would be one of its educational means in the 1950’s – Paragogikotis would emphasize:

«Σήμερον συμβαίνει, συχνά, αι ίδιαι αι
βιομηχανίαι να απευθύνωνται εις τους
 αγοραστάς δια να πληροφορηθούν τας
 επιθυμίας των» (ibid., p. 27, my emph.).

Training Greek industry to re-educate itself on the needs and tastes of the Greek masses would be a complex and long-term project, and ΕΛΚΕΠΑ – founded in 1954 – would have just that as its aim. A ΣΕΒ Δελτίον of 1980 had this to say of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ:

«… χωρίς … να ασκεί ο ίδιος παραγωγική
δραστηριότητα, έχει κατά βάση εκπαιδευτική
 αποστολή: επιδιώκει να εκπαιδεύσει, να
επιμορφώσει, να διαφωτίσει και να
πληροφορήσει αυτούς  που παίρνουν τις
αποφάσεις…» (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ,– 30.4.1980 – No  418,
p. 11, my emph.).

And further:

«Με τη συνεργασία ειδικών επιστημόνων
οργάνωσε βραχυχρόνια και μακρυχρόνια
προγράμματα επιμορφώσεως που
παρακολούθησαν πάνω από 60.000 άτομα»
(ibid.).

Such programs, in the form of seminars and workshops, were introducing businessmen to new concepts and paradigms to the Greek field: emphasis was placed on the participation of the consumer in what was being produced and on the demands of the consumer so that the final product (quality included) not be «απροσάρμοστο στις απαιτήσεις της αγοράς» (something we shall come back to – and cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ,  15.6.1978, No 383, pp. 27-28). As to consumer participation/consumer demands and the Danish paradigm, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s Paragogikotis  would write in 1956:

«Η ΣΥΜΒΟΛΗ ΤΟΥ ΚΑΤΑΝΑΛΩΤΙΚΟΥ ΚΟΙΝΟΥ
Οι αγορασταί απαιτούν καλήν ποιότητα –
Χαρακτηριστικόν παράδειγμα εις την Δανίαν»
(cf. Paragogikotis, June-August, 1956,
op. cit., p. 26, their emph.).

The issue of consumer participation («συμβολή») – endorsed by ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and ‘taught’ to Greek businessmen by the 1950’s – essentially reflected the general conditions of the post-war “modern world”: ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s position could be directly related to Habermas’ (op. cit.) interpretation of the period, which was said to have offered people those «ατομικές δυνατότητες επιλογής» and which went hand in hand with «συμμετοχή», etc.

In Denmark, consumer dissent would gradually translate into consumer participation and the ability to choose the kind of products people wished to consume – companies would be forced to adjust to such consumer demands:

«Βαθμηδόν καθώς ο ανεφοδιασμός και το
εμπόριον επανήρχηντο βραδέως εις ομαλόν
ρυθμόν [after the war], η δυσαρέσκεια την οποίαν
είχον προκαλέσει αι κακαί αυταί αγοραί,
εξεδηλώθη πλέον εις τους κύκλους των γυναικών,
ηύρε διέξοδον εις τον τύπον και προεκάλεσεν
διαβήματα προς τους εμπορευόμενους»
(ibid.).

ΕΛΚΕΠΑ was consciously introducing post-war Greece to a new relation between consumers and companies – the latter had to understand the former as a powerful subject which could exert organized pressure on manufacturers, and which could also make use of the mass media. It was precisely this two-way relationship between producers and consumers which would maintain “balances”, thus functioning as a safety-valve («διέξοδον»).

Without at all realizing the implications of what she is saying, Roupa (op. cit.) states with reference to the 1950’s and 1960’s:

«… ιδρύθηκαν κρατικοί και ιδιωτικοί φορείς
που μελετούσαν την καταναλωτική
συμπεριφορά…» (p. 261).

She goes on to provide us with useful information on the various organizations, bodies and institutions that were being established at the time, and sees in these the wholly “manipulative” intentions of the American “marketing model” («η κατανάλωση διεγείρονταν συστηματικά», cf. p. 260). And yet, she fails to understand that these institutions “studied” already existing popular attitudes – a historically-rooted a priori – and had to adjust to and maintain “ideological balances” with such reality. Thus, whatever degree of “manipulation” was checked and delimited by such socio-cultural reality.

If the product had to inscribe within itself at least elements of the a priori needs and tastes of the popular masses, such inscription would have to be represented in advertizing discourse – further, in cases where a product was a ‘standardized’ international product, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would again propose that it be promoted in a manner which would ‘speak’ to the consumer, and which would mean that the language of the discourse would have to be the language of the consumer – that, however, would presuppose a thorough knowledge  and respect of the socio-cultural mass practices of an “Amalia-type”. Further, and as already noted above (Streek, op. cit.), the mass ‘standardized’ product would itself give way to the “customized product”, and which would to a large extent “customize” advertizing discourse itself. In the 1950’s, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would try to re-educate Greek private capitals along this strategic line by focusing on the concept of the “market idea”. It was precisely such “market idea” which would constitute that «πεδίο μιας ασταθούς ισορροπίας συμβιβασμών» discussed above. We may here examine how Paragogikotis would present such inevitably U.S.-inspired concept in the 1950’s. In its January 1955 issue (No 6, pp. 33-42), the periodical would publish an article the central points of which may be summarized as follows:

  • «Η προσέλκυσις του πελάτου είναι ολόκληρη τέχνη και χρειάζεται φαντασία» (headline) – both the reference to “technique” as also that to “imagination/fantasy” may suggest “manipulative” intentions. Yet still, we need notice the emphasis placed on the central problem of how to attract the attention of the consumer.
  • The text, further, explicitly warns private capitals not to deceive the consumer: «δίχως ίχνος προθέσεως εξαπατήσεως … του πελάτου».
  • To attract attention but without deceiving, the commodity should ‘speak’ to the consumer: «…το εμπόρευμά σας πρέπει να της μιλήσει [i.e. to the housewife-consumer]» (their emph.). This of course presupposes that the producer knows the needs of the consumer (and therefore the necessary specifications of the product), and it also presupposes that the promotion of the product knows the language of that consumer.
  • Specifically as regards the promotion/presentation of products, this constitutes a whole ‘science’ based on the knowledge of what the “average” housewife wants: «Η ανάγκη να βρεθή τι θέλει η μέση νοικοκυρά ωδήγησε στην επιστήμη της παρουσιάσεως των ειδών προς πώλησιν». Here, it is clear that advertizing discourse and whatever other means of promotion can only be produced by mechanisms that have already imbibed and ‘scientifically’ evaluated the given material needs and psyche of the “average” housewife.
  • It is such focus on the need to attract the consumer, on the need to avoid deception, on the need to speak the language of consumers, on the need to ‘scientifically’ gather data around popular needs, etc., which would allow ΕΛΚΕΠΑ to speak of and press for its central concept of “market idea” amongst Greek private capitals. This central concept – related to but not the same as “marketing mix’ (to be discussed below) – points to the utterly new and “modern” conceptualization of the relation between producers and consumers. The text suggests that there is the need for manufacturers, traders and promoters to give the consumer «μια μεγαλυτέρα ευχέρεια εκλογής “ιδεών αγοράς”…» (my emph.).
  • At least for the Greek case, the implications of such a concept were truly revolutionary and would directly engage the “Amalia-type” in the unfolding of a new style of life. These implications were momentous for a number of reasons:
  • A given product would be structured around a network of “ideas” forming its  own “market idea” in two ways: firstly, the product itself, as an “idea”, could take a variety of forms – thus, it would be up to the “Amalia-type” to select what it was she wanted from a range of different forms of the same product; secondly, the discourse promoting the product would also take a variety of forms, and again the “Amalia-type” would herself select which discourse form she would ‘speak’ with along this range of forms of discourse.
  • This would therefore give the individual consumer the freedom to select and participate exactly as Habermas (op. cit.) has described it in examining the post-war period.
  • As is obvious, the concept of the “market idea” was a spermatic form of what Streek (op. cit.) has referred to as the “customized product” of the post-1970’s (both “market idea” and “customization” involving selectivity and participation).
  • There would be limits to the range of products and to the corresponding promotional discourses – such limits would constitute that constantly unsteady terrain of «ασταθούς ισορροπίας συμβιβασμών», and which would be a terrain of “provocative globalism” challenging “traditional provincialism” at the two extreme ends of the terrain. The “Amalia-type” would be one of the agents within such terrain – another agent would be ΕΛΚΕΠΑ; yet another would be the different sectors of capital operating in Greece, and so on.

Having said all this, the 1955 Paragogikotis article nonetheless does admit that such “techniques” would inevitably have a particular effect on the wishes of the consumer – they would go some way in “provoking”, though that would be a “provocation” of the wish to select. Alternatively, we may say that the “market idea”, presupposing a knowledge of the language and the wants of the consumer, could have a “manipulative” effect on him, but only in the more restricted sense that it could accelerate the act of choice (but which was itself “informed”, as argued above). As the text puts it, the use of «ιδεών αγοράς» would also mean –

«… μίαν ιδιαίτερη επιτάχυνσι εις την
επιθυμίαν του πελάτου να κάνη την
 εκλογή του» (ibid., p. 38, their emph.).

Going back to the 18th century, the Physiocrat Mercier de la Riviѐre had argued that «Ο σκοπός της ανταλλαγής είναι η απόλαυση, η κατανάλωση» (cf. Michel Foucault, Oι λέξεις και τα πράγματα, Γνώση, Αθήνα, 1986, p. 274). By the mid-20th century, in Greece as elsewhere, there would be a relative acceleration in the wish for such «απόλαυση», and this acceleration would be based on a relative “democratization” of consumer power. The April-May 1956 issue of Paragogikotis (No 12, p. 43), would make just that point. In a text entitled «Ένα κοινωνικόν πείραμα – Ο θεσμός της αναπτύξεως σχέσεων» [“A social experiment – The Relation Development Institution”], M. V. Pavlidis would write:

«Η αύξησις της βιομηχανικής παραγωγής
διέπεται από δύο βασικά φαινόμενα, την
αύξησιν της μηχανικής παραγωγής και
 την δημοκρατικοποίησιν της αγοραστικής
 δυνάμεως» (my emph.).

The ever-accelerating wish to select different forms of (de la Riviѐre’s) «απόλαυση» was not, therefore, simply a product of any “manipulative” advertizing discourse, and as that was semantically organized around its “market idea” – it was also and above all a product of that «αύξησιν της μηχανικής παραγωγής». Within such context, accelerating wishes were a manifestation of a relatively “democratized” consumer capacity, and which went hand-in-hand with a “democratization” of demand, participation and selection of products (we have already pointed to “mass aesthetics”, the “democratization” of fashion, etc.). The implication is that that «πεδίο μιας ασταθούς ισορροπίας συμβιβασμών» – and precisely as that was encapsulated in the pluralistic “market idea” – would be an essentially democratic terrain, and especially as the consumer power symbolic of the middle class milieu would be strengthened through the years. Even in the Greek “Police State” of the 1950’s and early-1960’s, and even in the period of the Military Dictatorship, the “Amalia-type” would be able to democratically assert her own consumer selectivity both in the product that she consumed and in the advertizing discourse that she would choose to listen to (the socio-cultural and economic levels of the Greek social formation would retain their relative autonomy vis-à-vis the political level). In any case, that, at least, was the strategic object of ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ – i.e. to maintain the relative autonomy and democratic interaction in relations between producer/promoter and the consuming masses. This does not mean that ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ were inherently predisposed to harbor whatever ‘democratic’ feelings towards the popular masses – they had no choice but do so in the face of the objective power of an “Amalia-type”, not so much qua-worker but much more so qua-consumer (and which constitutes a ‘reading’ of Greek social history completely alien to Greek “Left-wing” thinking – cf. our discussion of Greek “intellectuals” above).

Consciously or not, Roupa (op. cit.) follows the same old one-sided “Left-wing” paradigm (hardly ‘Marxist’ in any case) and thus completely ignores the “democratization” of both consumer demand and that of the terrain of advertizing discourse itself. Thus, her understanding of the role of what she calls “status types” is once again reduced to an ethicalist complaint: with reference to the promotion of modern “luxuries” in Greek films in the late-1950’s and early-1960’s, she speaks of –

«… ενός ελληνικού συστήματος προβολής
επωνύμων (“σταρ σύστεμ”) το οποίο πρόσφερε
πρότυπα για τον Τύπο και το κοινό»
(p. 265).

Terms such as «σύστημα προβολής» and «πρόσφερε» suggest an almost conspiratorially manufactured “status type” simply thrown in the faces of a Greek people hungry for whatever exotic “types” other than (or over and above) their own down-to-earth selves, and which would supposedly also yield an Orwellian-type «πρότυπο κατανάλωσης» (ibid.). The truth is that there really were, in the 1960’s, both “status types” and “consumer prototypes” – but there was a democratically-determined plurality of these, given the selective and participatory terrain of the “market idea”, itself determined by the dialectical give-and-take between at least certain private capitals and the “Amalia-type”. Put otherwise, within the post-war context of a potential upward mobility on the part of the popular masses, mass consumption and the “democratization” of consumer capacity would yield the “democratization” of “status types” as well – these very “types” gradually coming to define the middle class milieu.

In the course of the 1960’s so-called “Cultural Revolution” in China, Mao would decide to place “politics in command”, and ruin whatever possibilities for industrial development at the time – in stark contrast, in the course of the 1950’s-1960’s “socio-cultural revolution” in Greece, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would place “the consumer in command”, and thus contribute to Greece’s one and only (short) industrial revolution. Consider, for instance, the following text published in Paragogikotis in 1956:

«Ο ΠΕΛΑΤΗΣ

… είναι το πιο σπουδαίο πρόσωπο
δεν εξαρτάται από μας – εμείς
 εξαρτώμεθα από εκείνον
δεν είναι ψυχρή στατιστική – είναι
άνθρωπος με αισθήσεις και αισθήματα…
 και με προτιμήσεις και προκαταλήψεις.
… είναι αυτός, ο οποίος μας αναθέτει
την ικανοποίησι των επιθυμιών του –
είναι δουλειά μας να τις ικανοποιήσωμε
επικερδώς δι’ αυτόν και δι’ ημάς»
(cf. Paragogikotis, April-May 1956,
p. 48, my emph.).

This text is of special interest for three reasons: firstly, it is a reproduction of an in-house manual published by a U.S. corporation in 1956; secondly, it was redistributed that same year to the representatives of Greek industry through EΛΚΕΠΑ’s organ, Paragogikotis ; lastly, and precisely because it functioned as a document addressed exclusively to Greek private capitals, it did not mean to appease the popular consuming masses – it rather constitutes the essential inside truths of industry, revealing how the latter had traditionally viewed the consumer and why this would need to be corrected. Especially as regards Greek capital, what it says represents the dawn of the “modern” relationship between producer and consumer, and does so by placing the consumer as the agent in command of the process of production and consumption (specifically as regards the transaction of what one produces and what one buys). Let us examine a bit more closely how it aims at re-educating Greek industry:

  • It immediately places the consuming masses ‘in command’ by naming such people as «το πιο σπουδαίο πρόσωπο» – it therefore rejects the idea that the consumer is an open ‘tabula rasa’ to be filled in with “false needs” and “manipulatively” instilled wishes;
  • It recognizes the determining power of the consumer and the dependency of the producer: «εμείς εξαρτώμεθα από εκείνον»;
  • The consumer is an active subject – and therefore not a one-dimensional passive receptor – and cannot be reduced to a market statistic: «δεν είναι ψυχρή στατιστική»;
  • It recognizes the socio-cultural, historically determined, a priori which defines the consumer: such a priori has forged a social psyche which has its own «αισθήσεις», «αισθήματα», «προτιμήσεις» and «προκαταλήψεις»;
  • Capital, it is implied, does have its profit-making interests – but it is assigned by a historical subject (the consumer) to have its own wishes satisfied: it goes without saying that a “balance” between economic interest and pre-given wishes need be found: «μας αναθέτει την ικανοποίησι των επιθυμιών του»;
  • In the field of the circulation of commodities, relations between capital (the so-called ‘dominant’ class) and the popular masses (the so-called ‘dominated’) are now turned upside-down – here, companies work for the popular masses: «είναι δουλειά μας να τις ικανοποιήσωμε»;
  • The two-way relationship between capital and consumer is fully recognized: «δι’ αυτόν και δι’ ημάς».

These were the ‘inside truths’ that ΕΛΚΕΠΑ wanted to share with manufacturing and marketing capitals in Greece in the mid-1950’s: as we shall see, many private capitals would possess the economic clout and prestige to more or less ignore such truths; but as many would adopt “market ideas” which fully endorsed such truths, at times even religiously so. Either way, as the “democratization” of consumer capacity would gather momentum by the 1970’s and on, the middle class milieu, as a formidable consumer-bent socio-cultural force, would ultimately place itself in command (even at the political level with the rise of populist parties such as ΠΑΣΟΚ and ΝΔ, both of which would pursue policies bolstering over-consumption).

The idea of placing the consumer ‘in command’ through “market ideas” which gave people the democratic right to select and participate in the formation and buying of a product, etc. – all this stands in absolutely stark contrast to the way J. K. Galbraith (op. cit.) presented things in the 1960’s – consider the following quote:

“The eye sees a vast advertising and
sales effort employing elaborate
science and art to influence the
consumer” (p. 15).

And further:

“It sees huge sums expended for this
effort, an estimated $19.6 billion for
advertising in 1969” (ibid.).

One does not want to doubt the academic stature and penetrating analyses of someone like
Galbraith – on the other hand, and as already stated, one cannot mechanically apply Galbraith’s findings to 1960’s Greece. But perhaps one may here question what Galbraith himself has to say as regards “influencing” the consumer. Such “sales effort” – as he describes it – does not seem to have been all too easy a matter, simply judging by what was needed to be employed (science, art, and of course the billions of dollars setting up that “great machine”). Even in America, it seems, the “affluent” were not themselves that naïve and gullible. Naturally, in 1960’s Greece, the material conditions of life and the turbulently contradictory socio-cultural context would make such “sales effort” and such “great machine” even more complex. And that is precisely why ΕΛΚΕΠΑ had to spend time and money, not to “influence” the consumer, but to re-educate 60.000 business executives through the years so that the promotion of their products would take into account the “influence” exerted by the so-called “base” of society. Thus, at least as regards the Greek case, the process of “influencing” was a tri-partite flow of data: first, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ had to re-educate private capitals and their advertizing companies; second, the latter had to get to know and take into consideration the needs and wishes of the consumer; the third and final process of actually “influencing” people to buy a commodity would be activated through advertizing discourse, and then the “influence” of an advertizing campaign would have to be checked in terms of its success or failure. The measure of “influence” exerted by each of these parties – the ΕΛΚΕΠΑ educational seminars, the ability of the consumer to register his needs and wishes through his consumer behaviour as such, and the effectivity of the advertisement on the consumer – cannot be taken for granted. It is only hard empirical research on the various advertizing discourses that can tell us who in the last instance “influenced” whom and to what extent, such “influence” on the consumer never being a one-way matter. But ΕΛΚΕΠΑ had already decided that if capital was to maximize its profits, its advertizing discourse would have to be organized in a manner which put the consumer ‘in command’, as we have seen.

Having said all this, it must be quite obvious that our position here has absolutely nothing to do with that other position critically pointed to by Galbraith, which supports “the ultimate authority of the consumer” (op. cit., p. 16). But if there was no such “ultimate authority” on the part of the consumer, so also was there no such “authority” on the part of State and Capital. Both State and Capital as also Greek civil society itself, were too complex and internally contradictory to be reduced to whatever totalitarian enforcement of ‘taste’: the pluralistic “market idea”, being just that, allowed for an open and democratic struggle between all such parties as regards socio-cultural ‘taste’ (and which of course tells us nothing about the question of political rights in the 1960’s, that being a different kettle of fish).

Now, by the early 1970’s, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s philosophy of the “market idea”, meant to be inscribed in commodities and expressed in advertizing discourse, was to itself undergo a radical change in some (though not all) fields of advertizing. The concept of “market idea”, which had thus far been limited in its application to local capital – the “anarchy” of foreign multinationals having been beyond any control – would now merge with global, usually “interventionist” discourse. This fusion of concepts would come about given the mergers that would happen between local advertizing companies and international advertizing giants. But such discourse fusion and company mergers would not necessarily mean the dominance of the ‘foreign’ in advertizing discourse. Foreign-based advertizing companies, gradually rooting themselves in the socio-cultural realities of Greece, would develop their own “market ideas” and allow such “ideas” to enter into a dialectical engagement with the “ideas” of local advertizing companies – thus, new “balances” would have to be discovered between the new, foreign “market ideas” of advertizing discourse and those of their Greek counterpart. In that sense, the plurality of discourse would be further widened, and the range of selection for the “Amalia-type” would itself continue to broaden.

The fact that there had to be a dialectical engagement and finally a fusion of “market ideas” coming from foreign and local capitals – and therefore a fusion between global discourse and locally-based Greek socio-cultural discourse – would mean that the mergers and/or cooperation between different advertizing companies would yet again have to be accompanied by a massive re-education of all the parties involved. More than that, educational structures would have to be set up which would train a whole new generation of Greek professionals who would have to imbibe and condense within their skills this new advertizing discourse combining the global and the local in “balances” appropriate to the Greek market. Such youngsters – who were in fact the “organic intellectuals” of the middle class milieu – would have to create an advertizing discourse for products that had to avoid whatever «σφάλμα» vis-à-vis the demands of the market. That “market”, of course, was the up-and-coming middle class milieu, and when the ΣΕΒ Δελτίον was constantly urging both manufacturers and promoters in the 1970’s to avoid whatever was «απροσάρμοστο στις απαιτήσεις της αγοράς», it was of course thinking of none other than the milieu of the “Amalia-type”. The latter, of course, would itself be evolving in a manner which would combine in its newly-found «nous» both an ever-increasing proclivity for the global (and/or for the “European”) and for a natural conservation of its “Greekness”: the interplay between these would be highly complex, and it was just such complexity that the newly-trained Greek professionals would have to capture in creating the advertisements of the period (that being their “organic” function).

We need to briefly examine who it was that would establish such new educational structures in the early-1970’s, which advertizing companies would be involved, and why these parties were the appropriate forces to materialize objectives referred to above. Before we embark on such an examination, we should note that the accuracy of the data presented remains to be corrected or at least further verified – and in any case this study has never pretended to be a history of advertizing in Greece: we merely intend to present a general picture of events in the field of advertizing which would reinforce our position that advertizing discourse by the 1970’s would be a fusion of global and local representations, and which would be articulated by a new generation of socially “organic” professionals reflecting the needs and dreams of people such as the young Amalia Eleftheriadou. Advertizing discourse prior to the 1970’s would be a prefiguration of all such things to come.

The central organizing force behind developments in the early-1970’s could only have been ΕΛΚΕΠΑ itself. This organization would join forces with the «Ένωση Διαφημιστικών Επιχειρήσεων Ελλάδος» (ΕΔΕΕ) so as to set up structures for the training of young professionals in the field of advertizing. ΕΔΕΕ itself had been established in 1968, and one of its basic objectives had been to lay out a “code of ethics” in advertizing discourse – like ΕΛΚΕΠΑ since the 1950’s, its concern was to maintain “balances” between company profits and the rights of the consumer. Further, ΕΔΕΕ was an umbrella organization gradually bringing together important Greek advertizing companies, a number of which had merged or were in the process of merging and/or cooperating with foreign advertizing giants. We know that at least by 1973, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and ΕΔΕΕ would have established the «Κέντρον Εκπαιδεύσεως Στελεχών Διαφημίσεως» (ΚΕΣΔΙ). At least eighteen advertizing companies operating in Greece at the time would participate in this major training project. According to the periodical Epikaira (3-9.10.1974, τεύχ. 322, p. 47), this list of companies would include «μερικές από τις πρώτες εταιρίες στη χώρα μας». The composition of some of these companies is evidence of the mergers that had taken place with foreign advertizing giants, and which would facilitate an articulation of global with Greek local advertizing discourse.

One of the most important members of ΕΔΕΕ participating in the ΚΕΣΔΙ training project in the early-1970’s would be ‘ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ’ [LEOUSSIS ADVERTISEMENTS] (data pertaining to this company have been drawn from a variety of sources: Epikaira (ibid.); protothema.gr (undated); G. Sotiropoulou agelioforos.gr (29.7.2014); To Vima [Το Βήμα] (15.03.1998); etc.). This company had been deeply rooted in the Greek socio-cultural context and was to gradually undertake the promotion of international products in a manner which combined both ‘global’ discourse content and a language reflective of the Greek popular masses. Founded in 1941 by a woman, Fotini Leoussi, it was then the 19th advertizing agency («διαφημιστικό γραφείο») operating in Greece at the time. By 1956, the company would be run by Leoussi’s son, Ioannis, and would be named «Ι.Ν. ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ» [“I.N. LEOUSSIS]. It would soon commence a series of advertizing campaigns promoting products such as the beer «ΦΙΞ» [“FIX”]. These campaigns were to so deeply influence the Greek mass popular ‘psyche’ – and would so effectively speak the language of such ‘psyche’ – that they were to become truly legendary in the minds of the popular masses. «ΦΙΞ» itself would become a symbol of local beer-drinking cultural practices, and it is impossible to fully understand the socio-cultural practices of Greeks at the time without also examining the role of a company such as «Ι.Ν. ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ». In 1966, the 23 year-old son Nikos Leoussis would enter the family business and, given his initial passion for philosophy, would first work as a «κειμενογράφος» for the company. By the 1970’s, this man would become a major leader of many young Greek professional-“organic intellectuals” whose aim it was to undertake a systematic research work into the needs, tastes and dreams of the “Amalia-type”, and thus to create advertizing discourses accurately reflective of such “type”.

Nikos Leoussis was to become chairman of ΕΔΕΕ and thus head the massive training of such young professionals in the advertizing field via ΚΕΣΔΙ in the 1970’s. He was the true principal pioneer of ‘market research’ in Greece, and would thus come to fulfill the original aims of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ’s project commenced in the 1950’s which, as we have seen, was to place the Greek consumer ‘in command’. But for Leoussis things would now be much more complex: heretofore, it was not merely a matter of convincing local capitals to place the consumer ‘in command’, but rather to implement such advertizing strategy in a context of a Greek advertizing sector which was gradually merging with international advertizing giants. The central aim of ΚΕΣΔΙ was to train its “organic intellectuals” in the creation of an advertizing discourse which would inscribe a “balance” between the ‘global’ and the ‘local’ representations, and which would do so in a manner which fully expressed the complex socio-cultural milieu of the up-and-coming popular middle classes. Thereby, the “anarchically provocative” advertizing campaigns of foreign capitals would now also have to re-adjust their advertizing discourse within the parameters delimited by ΕΔΕΕ, which itself represented mergers between Greek and foreign-based advertizing companies. Given the cut-throat competition between various sectors of capital and given the uneven power between and within such sectors, the ΕΛΚΕΠΑ-ΕΔΕΕ-ΚΕΣΔΙ project – headed by Leoussis as chairman of ΕΔΕΕ – would not always be successful in standardizing the “code of ethics” of Greek-based advertizing discourse. Yet still, the Leoussis philosophy of advertizing would remain a steady ideological reference point. Such ideological reference point has been explained by Leoussis himself, and his understanding of the social function of advertizing discourse certainly surpasses all the so-called “Marxist intellectuals” put together – confirming the analyses of our own study, and in a manner reminiscent of the work of a Raymond Williams (cf. the latter’s Culture and Society, London, The Hogarth Press, 1978), Leoussis would enumerate the social functions of advertizing discourse as follows:

 «Την αποτύπωση που κάνει των κοινωνικών
 ρευμάτων της εποχής της. Την συμπύκνωση
 που κάνει των κοινωνικών προτεραιοτήτων,
 της ιστορικής συγκυρίας και της συλλογικής
 αισθητικής που ενσωματώνει»
(cf. G. Sotiropoulou, op. cit., my emph.).

It could only have been someone with a well-trained philosophical mind and who was at the same time as well-versed in the Greek socio-cultural reality, who could possibly capture the phenomenon of advertizing discourse in Greece with such sociological accuracy: Leoussis sees advertizing discourse as that which inscribes and condenses the priorities of the different socio-cultural strains of the popular masses themselves within a given conjuncture. That, of course, has been our own position all along this study. But what is of major importance is that it was exactly such philosophy of advertizing – as embodied in the thinking of the chairman of ΕΔΕΕ – which would be applied to the creation of advertizing discourse by both Greek advertizing companies and by those that had merged or were cooperating with the foreign giants, within ΕΔΕΕ.  Such philosophical reference point – which wanted and had to reflect the real socio-cultural trends and tastes of the “Amalia-type” – had to come to terms and re-discover “balances” with that all-American advertizing tradition encapsulated in the phrase “soap, sex and cigarettes” (cf. interview with Ms. F. Leoussi, in protothema.gr). By the early-1970’s and on, there would be a renewed emphasis on “market ideas” accompanying commodities and reflecting the «συλλογική αισθητική» («ο κλάδος μας βασίζεται στην ιδέα», as F. Leoussi would herself stress, ibid.), and this would apply even to the promotion of foreign products which had in any case always been carrying a ‘global’ image. Leoussis’ own company, «ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ», would work with more than 200 large companies selling “brand names”. Clients would include foreign companies such as BNP Paribas, Reckitt Benckiser, BDF, Unilever, Motor Oil, Lufthansa, and so on. It would be responsible for the promotion of the highly popular products of Wella, Nivea and Triumph. By the 1970’s, there would certainly be a deluge of foreign products entering the Greek market, but ΕΛΚΕΠΑ, ΕΔΕΕ, and ΚΕΣΔΙ would push for “market ideas” which would be functional to the needs of the Greek socio-cultural context – such functionality could only be ensured through a dialectical combination of ‘global’ and   ‘local’ advertizing discourse which would, in the last instance, effect that «αποτύπωση… των κοινωνικών ρευμάτων της εποχής…» within Greece. We know that one such major social grouping of the period would be young, fairly well-educated working females such as the “Amalia-type”. Leoussis knew that “type” – the Greek “Left”, in contrast, did not (or would simply refuse to accept its dominant presence). On the other hand, young ladies belonging to the “Left” would themselves naturally wear, say, Triumph underwear, and thus be more or less spontaneously – though quite paradoxically – participating (remember the Habermas position on participation and selection) in the “modern” socio-cultural practices of the day. Leoussis knew such “type” of ladies as well, and perhaps knew them better than they cared to know themselves: his famous advertizing slogan, «Τριούμφ, τα εσώρουχα που αγαπούν τη γυναίκα», would really speak their language as well. Quite appropriately, therefore, a To Βήμα article (op. cit.) on the life and work of Leoussis would be given the following title: «Να ονειρεύεσαι προσγειωμένα».

Leoussis knew the subjects/social agents of the Greek historical conjuncture of the 1960’s and 1970’s precisely because the object of his research – more specifically his ‘market research’ – would be that exact conjuncture: he studied and tried to communicate via advertizing discourse with the complexities of what he would call «το επίκαιρο». This is how he would put it:

«Η φιλοσοφία έχει σχέση με το διαχρονικό
και η διαφήμιση με το επίκαιρο. Το άγχος του
διαχρονικού είναι φορτίο στο επίκαιρο.
Ειδικά η πλατωνική φιλοσοφία, που έχει το
άγχος της αναγωγής στο ένα, δεν μπορεί να
έχει καμία σχέση με τη διαφήμιση»
(cf. To Vima).

We may make three interpretative observations on Leoussis’ overall philosophical world-view, as expressed in this quote:

  • His suggestion that it is advertizing per se which relates to the «επίκαιρο» implies that advertizing discourse is the paramount discourse of the Greek popular middle class milieu: the needs, wishes and tastes of the “New Type” would be materialized, as a socio-cultural ideology, within the promised possibilities of any one advertisement. The representations and “status types” of advertizing discourse would be reproduced in whatever other discourse circulating in society, such as in the film industry, in the narrative texts of popular periodicals, etc. But advertizing discourse would remain paramount, because it would be here that representations had to be accurate enough so as to directly speak to the consumer and make him buy a specific product: it is only here that mass participation and selectivity would be enacted in real physical terms and in real space and time.
  • His reference to «άγχος» is an excellent reading of Greek society of the post-war period and through to the 1970’s: as mentioned elsewhere, the specifically “Greek angst” – observed by people such as Varikas (op. cit.) – was a product, not only of the bloodbath of the Civil War, but also of the ensuing socio-cultural clashes we have been discussing above. Both for Leoussis and the Greek popular masses, such “angst” could only be transcended through the new and “modern” style of life promised by advertisements and materialized within the “Greek Home” of the “Amalia-type”. It would only be the advertising discourse addressed to the “New Type” and expressive of its current needs that would release people from the «φορτίο» of, inter alia, its historical past. As is well known, the “angst” of the Greek people would turn many post-war novelists and poets towards an exploration of essentially existentialist themes – similarly, Leoussis himself would, since the early-1960’s and on, be deeply interested in various existentialist philosophers of his time (cf. To Vima, op. cit.), and he would use such knowledge to help him understand the ‘psyche’ of the middle class milieu and to respond to its “angst” in its own language as inscribed in the advertizing discourse of the period.
  • Leoussis’ rejection of the Platonic «αναγωγή στο ένα», at least in the field of advertizing, is fully explainable: the Greek crisis of conflicting socio-cultural practices in the 1960’s and 1970’s would mean that one could not reduce the complexities and contradictions of the Greek common «nous» into one monolithic “whole” (let alone reduce Greek society to a Capital-versus-Labour contradiction, as did the communist “Left”):advertizing discourse, as already discussed, would have to condense within itself all the variety of trends and tastes expressed by the popular masses, both young and old.

The «ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ» company – later the «ΟΜΙΛΟΣ ΕΠΙΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑΣ Ι.N. ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ AE» – would both operate within such philosophical framework as regards the advertisements it created, and would articulate such framework vis-à-vis the advertizing giants that it would itself bring to Greece (AGB and CARAT by the 1980’s). But Leoussis himself, long-time leader within ΕΔΕΕ and member of the Executive Committee of ΣΕΒ, was not alone in his project to study the ‘psyche’ of the middle class milieu in the 1970’s, and thereby to put the consumer ‘in command’. For the sake of historical interest, we present below a few data on some of the ΕΔΕΕ-member advertizing companies which would, by 1973-4, be setting up and operating the training centre ΚΕΣΔΙ (most, not all, of this data is drawn from Epikaira, op. cit.; a number of company data have also been drawn from a wide variety of websites):

  • McCann-Erickson (Hellas) L.L.C.: this company was linked to the giant McCann-Erickson, said to have created the modern depiction of Santa Claus in 1939 for Coca-Cola. As we shall see below, in examining ‘global’ advertizing discourse in Greece, Coca-Cola’s entry to the country in the 1960’s would be an especially problematic process, and which shows how both in Greece and in other countries around the world there would be a serious resistance to its globalization both as an addictive drink and as an all-American culture symbol. In fact, it would only be by 1979 that Coca-Cola would try to heal its “traumas” of the 1960’s and 1970’s with its “Have A Coke, And A Smile” campaign. It would also be this same advertizing company which would create the internationally famous “Gold Blend couple” advertisements for Nescafé, and which will also be further discussed below (such advertisements also circulated in Greece). This giant, 70 year-old advertizing company, usually ignoring local socio-cultural conditions around the world, would ultimately have to allow its “Hellas L.L.C.” subsidiary to join the ΕΔΕΕ and often comply with the latter’s “code of ethics”, etc.
  • LINTAS: HELLAS: this ΕΔΕΕ-member was established in 1970. It was a subsidiary of the powerful LINTAS, which had itself been set up in the early-1920’s as Lever Brothers’ own advertizing agency. The latter would finally evolve into the Lever House Advertising Service. LINTAS: HELLAS, as a member both of ΕΔΕΕ and of the SSAB-Lintas International Advertising network, would have to create advertizing discourse specifically for the Greek popular masses and therefore fuse the LINTAS ‘global’ discourse with that of ‘local’ demands and expectations – it had to find “balances” between the discourse requirements of its mother-company and those of ΕΔΕΕ.
  • Sigma ΕΠΕ: especially active in the 1970’s, this advertizing company would promote anything from films, to cars, to dolls, etc. It would promote both the Greek-produced Finos Films and foreign films. As regards the latter, one important manner in which it would adjust advertizing discourse to the needs and tastes of the Greek popular masses would be to alter the original titles of these films, and at times very radically so. In fact, Sigma ΕΠΕ in the 1970’s would be continuing and furthering the 1960’s tradition of Greek advertizing discourse promoting foreign films which had been “translating” theirforeign advertizing discourse – film title and other promotional representations – into the Greek socio-cultural context. As in the 1960’s, but in a more sophisticated manner in the 1970’s, Sigma ΕΠΕ would translate and adjust foreign film titles in a manner which would respond, inter alia, to the needs of Greek youth in the context of the sexual revolution underway (we shall come back to advertizing film-discourse in discussing “balances” in 1960’s advertizing discourse as a whole). As regards the establishment of the training centre ΚΕΣΔΙ set up by ΕΔΕΕ in the early-1970’s, Sigma ΕΠΕ (which fully participated in both structures), would have this to say in 1974: «Το ΚΕΣΔΙ αποτελεί τη μοναδική συστηματική προσπάθεια για τη δημιουργία διαφημιστικών στελεχών στην Ελλάδα». (cf. Epikaira, op. cit., my emph.).
  • ABC ADVERTISING: this Greek advertizing company was established in 1966 and would continue its operations and thrive through to the 1970’s and 1980’s and on. It is an excellent example of an endogenous Greek capital in the field of advertizing which would remain Greek-owned throughout: despite coming face-to-face and competing with foreign advertizing giants within ΕΔΕΕ, it would value its own special knowledge of the buying habits and tastes of the Greek people and would assert its own independence as a purely Greek advertizing company. And yet, its own “market ideas” would not prevent it from promoting foreign ‘global’ products. On the contrary, its Greek-rooted independence would facilitate the promotion of just such products – in the 1960’s, it would be the official promoter of ROLEX, IBM and IBERIA. ABC would establish a long-term relationship with these three companies stretching to at least three decades. Still within the period of the 1960’s, it would further add to its list of foreign clients companies such as CITROEN, AMERICAN LIFE and AMERICAN EXPRESS, as also «τα τυράκια» PETIT NEGRE. Another company it would work for would be ΑΛΟΥΜΙΝΙΟΝ της ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ [ALUMINIUM of GREECE]. We know that in the 1960’s in Greece many people would be travelling overseas usually as immigrants or as “tourists” wishing to finally attain ‘permanent residence’ or citizenship in various countries – there would therefore be many airline companies operating in Greece, and ABC would be promoting the services of companies such as SAS (Scandinavian), CP AIR (Canadian), JAPAN AIRLINES and ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES. ABC would also come to promote certain IZOLA electrical appliances, and by 1976 it would be promoting the full range of products manufactured by IZOLA. Since the early-1970’s, it would be a pioneer in the “social advertisement” (for instance, in campaigns against cancer). Generally, between 1970 and 1975 – which is the period when mergers between foreign and local advertizing companies truly begin to happen – ABC focuses its attention on discourse “patterns” and “models” expressive of the Greek milieu at the time and organizes itself in and around such milieu, and it is for that particular reason that it shall join forces with ΚΕΣΔΙ to help train the new “organic intellectuals” who would undertake to research the Greek market in depth and create representations in discourse adjusted to such specific market needs. Thus, with reference to 1970-1975, the ABC company «οργανώνεται σε σύγχρονα με την εποχή πρότυπα και στελεχώνεται με ικανότατους συνεργάτες…». Further, and most importantly, it has been said of ABC that, «γνωρίζοντας καλά τα δεδομένα της Ελληνικής αγοράς» (my emph.), it would remain «μια ανεξάρτητη, αμιγώς ελληνική εταιρία». Thus, at least as regards ABC in the early-1970’s, it would not only be a matter of it having to compete with the foreign giants within ΕΔΕΕ: such giants would themselves have to maintain “balances” in their own advertizing discourse vis-à-vis that of ABC given the knowledge the latter had of the Greek reality.
  • ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ: this company, like ABC ADVERTISING, was itself also purely Greek. Deeply rooted in the Greek socio-cultural reality since 1947, when it was founded by Takis G. Theofilopoulos, many of its advertizing campaigns were to become legendary (as in the case of ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ), and its discourse representations would be intertwined with the everyday lives of Greeks. For instance, it is said that «Οι διαφημίσεις για το “Τρινάλ” ξεσήκωσαν πολύ κόσμο» (my emph.), and the company would itself be referred to as the «διαφημιστική-θρύλος Αλέκτορ». And again like ABC, it would be very successful in promoting foreign products and services, not despite the fact that it was an endogenous company but precisely just for that reason. We know that at least by the mid-1960’s,  ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ would be promoting literally numerous foreign products and services such as the following: ADAMS S.A. – Τσίκλες; ADELCO – Καλλυντικά; AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF POULTRY INDUSTRIES – Κοτόπουλα και Γαλόπουλα Αμερικής; AMERICAN STANDARD – Είδη υγιεινής; BADEDAS – Αφρόλουτρον; BERKSHIRE – Γυναικείες και ανδρικές κάλτσες, εσώρουχα; CHAT NOIR – Καλλυντικά; ELNETT SATIN – Λακ μαλλιών; FARBWERKE HOECHST – Υφάσματα και Κουρτίνες; HOLLAND CANNED MILK – Γάλα; S.C. JOHNSON & SON – Εντομοκτόνο; KELVINATOR HELLAS – Ψυγεία, Ηλεκτρικά είδη; LANVIN – Άρωμα; MEBEA – Μοτοποδήλατα; OMOR – Σαμπουάν; PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS – Αεροπορικαί Συγκοινωνίαι; PANTENE – Λοσιόν μαλλιών; PHILIPS – Ξυριστικαί μηχαναί; QUAKER OATS – Κουάκερ; SCOTT PAPER COMPANY – Προϊόντα χάρτου; VIGORELLI – Ραπτομηχαναί; etc., etc. (cf., Apogevmatini, 6.Ι.1966, p. 3). The point here is that ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ knew exactly how it should have to approach the Greek housewife so that she be convinced to buy, say, an American chicken – at least in rural and semi-rural areas such as Aliarto, almost every second household had its own chicken coop and an advertizing company such as ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ well knew that its advertizing campaign promoting US poultry could not afford to adopt an arrogant “interventionist” discourse downgrading the traditional domestic poultry industry. It would be for the exact same reasons why local Greek manufacturers would themselves often prefer endogenous advertizing companies to promote their products rather than let an outsider do the job. Thus, ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ would also promote products for Greek companies such as the following: ΧΑΡ. ΒΛΑΧΟΥΤΣΙΚΟΣ – Κονσέρβες; Ε.Β.Γ.Α. – Γάλα, παγωτά, σοκολάτες; ΗΛΙΟΣ – Ζυμαρικά (the company already discussed above); Γ.Α. ΚΕΡΑΝΗΣ – Σιγαρέττα; ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ – Μεγάλα Καταστήματα; ΠΑΝΕΛΛΗΝΙΟΣ ΑΓΟΡΑ – Καταστήματα; ΠΑΠΑΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ Α.Β.Ε.Σ. – Σιγαρέττα; etc., etc. (cf. , Apogevmatini ibid.). And, in any case, were a Greek manufacturer to opt for the services of an international subsidiary, he would know that while it would be the mother company which would offer its marketing/technological know-how, it would be the Greek-based subsidiary which would truly know and speak in the language of the Greek masses in the final product of the advertizing discourse. In all, ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ would be an organic part of the everyday life of the Greek popular masses – its advertizing slogan promoting its own services would go as follows in the mid-1960’s: «ΑΚΟΜΗ ΚΑΙ Η ΗΜΕΡΑ ΕΧΕΙ ΤΟΝ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΤΗ ΤΗΣ», it being the «αλέκτωρ» (= cock) hailing the break of day. (Concerning the death of the founder of ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ, Takis Theofilopoulos, cf. Εφημερίς της Καλλιθέας, 14.3.1970, p. 2).
  • ΓΝΩΜΗ Α.: this is yet another interesting advertizing company which was an ΕΔΕΕ member and which would participate in the establishment of ΚΕΣΔΙ in the early-1970’s. Perhaps the single most important fact about this company – and which tells us much about the role of well-educated “organic intellectuals” within ΕΔΕΕ – is that from 1963 it was headed by the important Greek artist, Georgos Bakirtzis. His philosophy of life and especially his approach to both art and advertizing billboards is of a quality equal to that of Leoussis, and they would both share a deep concern for directly communicating with the popular masses. Unlike Leoussis, he would ultimately turn his back to commercialized art (and therefore advertizing) and devote himself to art proper – though this too reveals the intellectual stature of a man involved in the world of Greek advertizing (for the direct connection between artists and the advertizing industry in Europe of the late-19th and early-20th century, as also regarding the role of billboards, cf. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, pp. 344-345). Born in 1923, Bakirtzis would study at the Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών of Athens, and would further his studies at the Paris Ēcole des Beaux-Arts, specializing in the graphic arts and engraving. He would bring such skills to the Greek advertizing sector, and from 1945 through to the early-1960’s, he would be creating a wide variety of giant billboards especially for the cinema, though also for the promotion of other products as well. By 1963, as mentioned, he would become the «καλλιτεχνικός διευθυντής» of ΓΝΩΜΗ Α.Ε. As regards his contribution to the world of Greek advertizing, this is what has been said of his work as a whole: «Η παραστατική τεχνική του Βακιρτζή με τα έντονα ζωηρά χρώματα ανανέωσε και αναβάθμισε τη διαφημιστική εικόνα του κινηματογράφου και την αφίσα του δρόμου με τέτοιο τρόπο ώστε να προσελκύει αλλά και να δείχνει τον ανάλογο σεβασμό προς το ευρύ κοινό που απευθυνόταν» (cf. http://museumteriade.gr/greek-artist/Bakirtzis.asp, my emph.). His “respect” for the popular masses – expressed in an attempted “balance” between attracting the consumer and refusing to provoke him insultingly – is reminiscent of Leoussis’ own philosophy that advertizing discourse should express (and by implication respect) in condensed form the various tastes of the popular masses. In the case of Bakirtzis, it was not merely a matter of wanting to “approach” the «nous» of the popular masses – he was as much concerned with the need to contribute to the «αισθητική καλλιέργεια του κόσμου», and which of course relates to the question of ‘aesthetics’ and its democratization in advertizing discourse discussed above. While working for the Greek advertizing sector, such concern was to be materialized in his posters and giant billboards. The man would later turn to expressionist art forms focusing on the “isolation” of modern man, but his presence in the field of advertizing since the 1940’s is symptomatic of at least one dimension of the Greek advertizing discourse of the period. The advertizing company ΓΝΩΜΗ Α.Ε. would have this to say in 1974 as regards ΚΕΣΔΙ and its role in training and establishing Greek “organic intellectuals” in the field of advertizing: «… από το ΚΕΣΔΙ θα δημιουργηθή η γενιά των διαφημιστών του μέλλοντος» (cf. Epikaira, op. cit., my emph.).
  • K & K UNIVAS: this company was deeply rooted in the Greek socio-cultural context of the 1960’s. It had been established in 1962 by a group of friends, basically F. Karabott and M. Katzourakis, and they would give their initials to the name of the new company, «K & K Διαφημιστικό Κέντρο Αθηνών» (or “K & K Athens Publicity Centre”). The company’s creation of advertisements in the 1960’s and the 1970’s would be organized around a very specific philosophy pertaining to advertizing discourse: such discourse would have to maintain a “balance” between, on the one hand, what it called an «ορθός λόγος», and, on the other, a «συνειδητή προσήλωση στις αρχές του Μοντερνισμού». The «ορθός λόγος» would mean that advertizing discourse would have to be honest and accurate in terms of the needs and expectations of someone such as the “Amalia-type”; its conscious emphasis on the «αρχές του Μοντερνισμού» would mean that it would try to express the steadily increasing proclivity on the part of the “Amalia-type” for the “modern”. But the implication is that whatever “modernity” could not override or ignore what was «ορθό» in terms of the real material needs of the “Amalia-type”, or at least as such needs were understood by the “Amalia-type”. In fact, the tense and uneasy “balance” between purely practical needs and “modernistic” tastes was precisely what was to define the «nous» of the “Amalia-type”, and K & K would try and capture this tension in advertizing discourse. Thus, K & K’s parallel insistence on the «ορθό λόγο» would be fully aligned with, for instance, Leoussis’ «συμπύκνωση των κοινωνικών προτεραιοτήτων», or with ABC’s concern for «τα δεδομένα της Ελληνικής αγοράς», or with Bakirtzis’ «ανάλογο σεβασμό», and so on. Such alignment of philosophies as to the form that “market ideas” should take in Greek advertizing discourse confirms that ΕΔΕΕ was pursuing a fairly uniform and conscious promotion policy meant to meet the specific needs of the Greek consumer. In 1973, Κ & Κ would join up with the international giant, UNIVAS, and it would be precisely as K & K UNIVAS that it would function as a member of ΕΔΕΕ and help establish ΚΕΣΔΙ, thus again allowing for an interaction of “market ideas” between a local company and an international giant. As regards the training project of ΚΕΣΔΙ, K & K UNIVAS had this to say in 1974: «Δίνει μια νέα ώθησι και πνοή δημιουργίας στη διαφήμισι του τόπου μας» (cf. Epikaira, op. cit.). We may add here that in the course of the Military Dictatorship, text-writers for K & K UNIVAS would include people such as Maria Karavia and the important playwright Iakovos Kambanellis, and which goes to yet again show the intellectual caliber of people involved in the creation of advertizing discourse at the time.
  • HG ΕΡΓΟΝ: as regards ΚΕΣΔΙ, this company would state the following in 1974: «Ιδρύθηκε για τη δημιουργία στελεχών, ικανών να καλύπτουν τις ανάγκες της σύγχρονης διαφημίσεως» (cf. Epikaira, op. cit.).
  • ΗΧΩ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΤΙΚΗ ΟΕ: again with reference to ΚΕΣΔΙ in 1974, this participating company would observe: «Τώρα η διαφήμισις δεν είναι προϊόν αυτοσχεδιασμού. Μόνο τα σωστά εκπαιδευμένα στελέχη μπορούν να βοηθήσουν στην πρόοδο της» (cf. Epikaira, op. cit.).

Other Greek advertizing companies – some of them also belonging to the first important advertizing companies in the country – which belonged to ΕΔΕΕ and participated in the ΚΕΣΔΙ project would include: ΓΡΑΦΙΣ ΕΠΕ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΩΝ, ΕΨΙΛΟΝ-ΕΨΙΛΟΝ, GEO, Interad Advertising & Marketing Ltd., K & O, Λάμδα Αλφα, Spot advertising Ltd., and Victory (their history remains to be researched by historical sociologists and/or economic historians).

ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and ΕΔΕΕ would summarize the objectives of ΚΕΣΔΙ as follows in 1974:

«Η διαφήμισις είναι πλέον σταυροδρόμι
Επιστημών … Η Ένωσης Διαφημιστικών Επιχειρήσεων
Ελλάδος σε συνεργασία με το ΕΛΚΕΠΑ ...
οργάνωσαν το Κέντρον Εκπαιδεύσεως Στελεχών
Διαφημίσεως. Το ΚΕΣΔΙ … Ο στόχος του; Να
Ετοιμάση … επιμελητάς προγραμμάτων, κειμενογράφους,
προγραμματιστάς μέσων…[etc.]»
(cf.Epikaira, op. cit.).

Such developments in the early-1970’s would mean the concentration and systematic structuring of an autonomous field of Greek advertizing practices, such autonomy being absolutely necessary so that ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and ΕΔΕΕ would be able to press for the articulation of advertizing discourse well beyondthe individual, private and highly competitive interests of various ‘isolated’ local capitals, and as well beyond the unregulated hegemony of various (not all) foreign capitals. Its presentation of the field of advertizing as a «σταυροδρόμι επιστημών» was meant to enlighten local capitals as to the very specific socio-cultural function of advertizing in Greek society, a function which could not be allowed to be abused by whatever ‘anti-social’ promotional intentions on the part of certain private capitals. Likewise, the fact that local and foreign advertizing companies were being brought together and organized under the umbrella of ΕΔΕΕ would itself facilitate the fusion of “market ideas” well beyond what ΗΧΩ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΤΙΚΗ ΟΕ was rejecting as «προϊόν αυτοσχεδιασμού», and which implied that the “market ideas” of advertizing discourse had to be “scientifically” structured on the basis of an interdisciplinary («σταυροδρόμι») analysis of the ‘psyche’ of the Greek popular masses.

We have already suggested that such attempts on the part of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ/ΕΔΕΕ would not always be successful, in the sense that not all advertizing companies would adhere to its socio-culturally determined specifications as to what constituted ‘appropriate’ discourse in terms of Greek market needs. In fact, if it is true that the terrain of advertizing discourse had always been a «πεδίο μιας ασταθούς ισορροπίας συμβιβασμών» between the advertizing sector and the “Amalia-type”, it would be just such exact terrain that would determine relations between, on the one hand, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ/ΕΔΕΕ and, on the other, advertizing companies powerful enough to ignore or circumvent whatever specifications. The struggle between such forces would be ipso facto ideological, not legal: it would have been practically impossible to legally force, say, the mighty McCann-Erickson, to comply with any “code of ethics” in its promotion of Coca-Cola in Greece. Thus, when, by 1977, ΕΔΕΕ was to come up with its own official «Κώδικα Δεοντολογίας», and establish an «Επιτροπή Κρίσεως» (with the object of judging problematic advertisements), it would well know that it was furthering an essentially long-term ideological struggle against any advertizing discourse carrying «σφάλματα» in its “market idea” vis-à-vis the Greek reality (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ, τεύχ. 383, 15.6.1978, op. cit., pp. 27-28). Neither ΣΕΒ, nor ΕΛΚΕΠΑ, and not even ΕΔΕΕ itself – which ‘housed’ the mergers with the multi-national advertizing giants – possessed the legal tools or the economic clout to discipline advertisers breaking its «Κώδικα» – and yet, since ideological struggles are in the last instance settled by the socio-cultural conditions that inform and traverse them, the ΕΔΕΕ «Κώδικα» and its «Επιτροπή Κρίσεως» was something to be reckoned with, and it was reckoned with within that “balance of compromises” which at times put the needs and wishes of the “Amalia-type” in command, while at other times it tried to peripheralize such grassroots realities.

The 18 articles which make up ΕΔΕΕ’s «Κώδικα Δεοντολογίας» are extremely telling in that they fully confirm the manner in which we have read the historical intentions and functions of an organ such as ΕΔΕΕ. We may summarize the basic philosophy of these 18 articles as follows:

  • They concern all products and services promoted, and which suggests the struggle on the part of ΕΔΕΕ to assert its own hegemony over the whole of the Greek advertizing sector;
  • Such hegemony is meant to cover all the possible little details of advertizing discourse per se – thus, the “Code” concerns whatever words, numbers and images used in a discourse;
  • Very importantly, advertizing discourse should not mislead the consumer through the creation of “impressions” (article 4);
  • All advertizing discourse should be informed and checked by “social responsibility”;
  • Above all, the representations of advertizing discourse – whatever their form – should not insult the customs and ethics of the Greek consumer (article 1).

It would be a variety of forces which would determine the tilting of the “balance of compromises” this way or the other: one such major force would be the “Amalia-type” – more specifically, it would be that “type’s” “closest thought and attention” (Galbraith) which would determine whether or not a particular product or service coalesced into (or was marginally ‘tolerated’ by) the up-and-coming Greek middle class milieu. ΕΔΕΕ had come to fully understand such Greek reality – hence the very first article in its “Code”, meant to “protect” both producer and consumer from the fly-by-night extravagancies of whatever arrogant insults thrown in the face of a historically-rooted Greek customs and ethics, and especially so in a historically sensitive period of time when such customs and ethics were gradually undergoing their own organic change themselves. For ΕΔΕΕ, such change was inevitable (we may remember here the K & K UNIVAS «συνειδητή προσήλωση στις αρχές του Μοντερνισμού»), but this could only but take the form of an internally-determined rhythm of organic change towards the “modern” which could not possibly simply defaceany “Amalia-type”. For ΕΔΕΕ, it was never a question of any “attack” on the “Amalia-type” – if only because such “type” could strike back in return.

Interestingly enough, at least some contemporary commentators on the question of advertizing in 1970’s Greece do actually, and more or less roughly, confirm our own approach. One such is the following:

«Η δεκαετία του ’70 αποτελεί το σημείο
καμπής τόσο στην ελληνική κοινωνία όσο
και στα άγουρα εφηβικά χρόνια της διαφήμισης
… Η διαφήμιση ανδρώνεται και επηρεάζει
εντονότερα την καθημερινότητα … Οι πρώτοι
περιορισμοί σε αυτή τη διαφημιστική επέλαση
τίθενται από τον Κώδικα Διαφημιστικής
Δεοντολογίας. Τελικά η διαφήμιση δαιμονοποιείται.
Γίνεται στόχος για όλα τα κακώς κείμενα και ο
αποδιοπομπαίος τράγος, κάτι βέβαια που την
αδικεί» (cf. “diafimisi” – http:// diafimisi…, op. cit.).

Such text offers hints of attempts at an “ethical delimitation” of advertizing discourse in the Greek society of the 1970’s, and hence somehow doubts a monolithic-unilinear effect on consumers. It also points to the «δαιμονοποίηση» of advertisements, which was itself a reality: while basically articulated by “Left” or “Leftish” intellectuals (as we have seen above), such thinking was to trickle down to the consumer. There was definitely nothing ‘wrong’ with such popular feeling: it only added to the critical evaluation of advertisements without of course in any way stifling consumption as such. More importantly, it was a response to that type of advertisement which unabashedly and unilaterally intervened in the lives of the Greek popular masses in a manner which provoked or even questioned their local, albeit transitional, ethics. In the sub-section that follows, we shall examine samples of advertizing discourse which certainly belonged to this “provocative-interventionist” type and which escaped the filters of advertizing discourse set up by structures and practices of, above all, ΕΔΕΕ. Before we examine such advertizing discourse, we shall here try to explain a bit more specifically how it was possible for foreign advertizing campaigns to simply escape ΕΔΕΕ specifications and promote products despite the Greek socio-cultural reality. It will not do to simply point to their economic might (such might does not necessarily ‘speak’ to well-engrained socio-cultural realities), and it will not do to simply describe the terrain of advertizing discourse as a shifting ideological struggle of “compromising balances”: why “balances” would, in the specific case of foreign-based advertizing campaigns, tilt emphatically towards their side, cannot be left unanswered.

The simple fact is that companies such as Coca-Cola (et al) were not at all fly-by-night enterprises targeting an easy meat and then disappearing from the scene of the crime. Despite the initial outcry against a product such as Coca-Cola in Greece – itself telling – the company was here to stay. Campaigns aimed at promoting such a product were ultimately so effective that one must admit degrees of “mimicking” global cultural stereotypes (related to such campaigns) on the part of the popular masses. The social historian needs to delve minutely into the variegated depths of such “degrees” and investigate how the particular “mimicking” practices articulated with the a priori socio-cultural Greek reality. But the perseverance and even multiplication of such “hard” promotional practices themselves (which we must remember constituted just one dimension of the terrain of Greek advertizing discourse-as-a-Whole) still calls for an explanation. What here needs to be explained, in other words, is this “dis-balancing” in the “balance of compromises” between the advertizing sector and the “Amalia-type”, as also a concomitant “dis-balancing” between ΕΔΕΕ and those operating outside the latter’s delimiting “Code”.

At least by the late-1970’s, ΣΕΒ would confront the major question of “marketing mix” (to which we have already briefly referred and which went beyond that of “market idea”) accompanying a marketable product. This “concept”, as we shall see, had direct material manifestations as regards foreign-based, multi-national advertizing companies, rendering such companies quite impervious to the grassroots demands of local “national” contexts such as that of Greece. In mid-1978, the Δελτίον ΣΕΒ would publish an important article which tried to explain to Greek local capital what such “marketing mix” (or “marketing mixe”, as it was also referred to) was all about – it wrote:

«… “Μάρκετινγκ μίξ” (μίγμα μάρκετινγκ) είναι
το σύνολο των στοιχείων της πολιτικής που
εφαρμόζεται σχετικά με το ίδιο το προϊόν
(χαρακτηριστικά, εμφάνιση, συσκευασία κ.λ.π.)
και σχετικά με την τιμή, τις μεθόδους προβολής
και διανομής του κ.λ.π.» (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒΝο 383,
15.6.1978, pp. 27-28).

This “marketing mix” was the central “tool” of foreign, multi-national advertizing capital, and Greek endogenous capital had itself to come to terms with it. But the manner in which the latter could use such “tool” would be different to that of foreign capital – its usage would have to correspond to its own, relatively limited outreaching capacities in the face of the foreign giants. For local advertizing capital, “marketing mix” would mean, on the one hand, that “balances” would have to be inscribed in the product itself (reflective of the needs of the “Amalia-type”) and, on the other, “balances” would have to be inscribed in the promotional discourse of such product (reflective of the ‘psyche’ of the “Amalia-type”). Above all, “balances” inscribed in the product would have to be reflective (and not at all refractive) of “balances” inscribed in the promotional discourse (and/or vise versa). Unless such «ορθότητα» (remember K & K, and despite its international links) or such «ανάλογο σεβασμό» (remember Bakirtzis) was effected within a product, within its discourse and in-between these two, the “Amalia-type” would ultimately come to reject both the “idea” of the product and the product itself. Put slightly otherwise, we may say that if the «σύνολο των στοιχείων της πολιτικής» applied to a particular product was not accurately reflected in the methods of the promotional discourse used for that product, there would be a non-correspondence between the two and which would ultimately cause a drop in the popularity of the product amongst consumers – this is precisely what ΣΕΒ would diagnose as a «σφάλμα του marketing mixe», where «σφάλμα» was defined as that which rendered a product «απροσάρμοστο στις απαιτήσεις της αγοράς» (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ, ibid.). That, for ΣΕΒ, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and ΕΔΕΕ, was the only feasible manner in which the “tool” of “marketing mix” could be put to use by local advertizing companies. And further, these ideological organizers of local capital also knew what it was that could possibly advantage local advertizing companies vis-à-vis the foreign giants: their footing in the field of Greek advertizing would be maintained and reinforced, not only if their advertizing discourse avoided the misrepresentation of products (policy applied to product in relation to policy of discourse), but also and especially if their discourse would ‘name’ the product in the “language” of the “Amalia-type” and that of the popular masses generally (policy applied to advertizing discourse as such).

Being fully aware that it was only such specific usage of the “tool” of “marketing mix” on the part of the local advertizing industry which could save the day in the face of the know-how of the foreign-based giants, ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ would, by 1979-80, set up a special «ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΩΝ», allowing the Greek “organic intellectuals” in the advertizing sector to have a systematic access to the needs, wishes and especially “language” of the “Amalia-type”, variables which in any case were in a state of continual flux and change (and especially so in the case of “language”, given nuances of new argot continually entering and enriching the talk of the middle class milieu – and which now constitutes a potential field of social research all of its own). Thus, a 1979 issue of the Δελτίον ΣΕΒ (Νο 402, 31.3.1979, p. 26) would publish an article entitled «ΓΙΑΤΙ ΕΠΙΒΑΛΛΕΤΑΙ Η ΣΥΣΤΑΣΗ ΜΙΑΣ ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑΣ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΩΝ». The text would argue for the need to collect data on a nation-wide basis and covering all branches of Greek industry – the idea was that the usage of such a «ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΩΝ» would help determine the local “marketing mix” of products and their concomitant “market idea”, itself expressive of local advertizing discourse especially as applied to the «ανάπτυξη νέων προϊόντων» (ibid.) – being new products, advertizing companies would need to investigate the “Amalia-type’s” possible responses to such newness, etc. And similarly, a 1980 Δελτίον ΣΕΒ  (Νο 418, 30.4.1980, p. 11), would emphasize that access to ΕΛΚΕΠΑ data investigating the needs and tastes of the Greek consumer would be open to all up-and-coming members of the “organic intellectuals” creating the advertizing discourse of the new Greek middle class milieu – we read:

«… για να προωθηθεί αποτελεσματικότερα η
λειτουργία του σαν Κέντρου πληροφορήσεως,
το ΕΛΚΕΠΑ έχει συστήσει ειδική Μονάδα
Τεκμηριώσεως και Πληροφοριών. Η Μονάδα
αυτή είναι στη διάθεση κάθε επιχειρηματία,
επιστήμονα ή φοιτητή…».

We have emphasized that the local advertizing industry could only make use of the concept of “marketing mix” in such particular ways as described above – and we thus imply that such usage, while effective in communicating with the grassroots needs of the specifically Greek consumer, was nonetheless an inevitably limited tapping of the limitless potential of such concept of “marketing mix”. How else could such concept have been used? What extra usage was made of such “marketing mix” by foreign capital which was beyond the objective capacities of local capital? In its presentation of the concept, ΣΕΒ had pointed to a clear-cut but internally articulating distinction within such concept: on the one hand, there was a policy that had to be applied to the product as such (and which related to the product’s own characteristics, appearance and packaging); on the other hand, there was a policy that had to be decided with respect to variables outside the product itself, and which had to do with its price, its modes of promotion and its modes of distribution. As regards the inherent characteristics of any product, local capital could investigate and come to know exactly what policy it needed to apply, given its rootedness in the Greek socio-cultural reality – but as regards those external variables such a price, modes of promotion, ‘reachabilty’ and distribution, the strategies of Greek local capital could only be decided on the basis of its limited economic resources vis-à-vis those of the ‘anarchically autonomous’ multi-national advertizing companies, whose own economic resources were in fact near-limitless (their powerful presence could be felt both within ΕΔΕΕ, in which case their discourse could be somewhat checked by the presence of Greek advertizing companies, or outside of ΕΔΕΕ, where they would preserve their truly autonomous imperium).

The implications here are absolutely clear: powerful foreign advertizing companies had the luxury to use at times utterly “provocative” methods of promoting products without causing whatever «σφάλμα» in their own “marketing mix”, given their ability to sell cheaply, promote incessantly and distribute ubiquitously. We know, for instance, that Coca-Cola advertisements would appear in places least expected wherever in Greece, be these outposts perched on some god-forsaken mountain or in tiny haberdasheries, coffee-shops, etc. in the little villages surrounding Aliarto, and so forth. Such ubiquity, further, would stimulate certain specific dimensions of the transitional Greek ‘psyche’, these being the gradually awakening need for the “global” and the “modern”. The parochial or provincial dimensions of Greek socio-cultural practices would here quite ‘naturally’ respond to the foreign “exotic” but without maintaining any serious “balances” with the deep-rooted realities and, in the transitional period of the 1960’s and 1970’s, would lead to culture shocks which themselves exacerbated, inter alia, the clash of generations. But, we are saying, such “provocative-interventionism” in “market idea” was restricted to foreign giants who possessed the capacity to activate all aspects of the concept of “marketing mix” to full effect, allowing for the widespread popularization of their “brands”, and they would be doing so well outside the specifications of advertizing discourse delineated by ΕΔΕΕ.

But we further need to understand that such “provocative-interventionism” on the part of foreign giants was not just a result of their material capacity to launch truly widespread, incessantly bamboozling advertizing campaigns which luxuriated in a rampant cultural imperialism: intentional “provocation” in advertizing discourse went hand-in-hand with an as intentional, planned risk-factor which was – at least then – the built-in drive of all multi-nationals in their struggle to dominate their markets. C.C. Pocock, President of SHELL, expressed just such an inherent need for risk in an article published in Δελτίον ΣΕΒ on the 30th of April 1979 (Νο 404, p. 24) – he would put it brilliantly well:

«… η επιχείρηση ευημερεί μέσα στον
κίνδυνο…».

Put simply, when foreign advertizing companies were deciding to make use of “provocative- interventionist” discourse in promoting a product, they well knew they were breaking the rules of the local game – they knew all too well they were taking their risks and playing it dangerously in ignoring whatever socio-cultural “balances” defined the order of the day in Greece – for them, the “Amalia-type” was almost a guinea pig, or a laboratory of “life” on the shoulders of which various “global” representations could be tested. The risks such companies took would create uneasy balances between, on the one hand, ensuing culture shocks amongst the Greek popular masses and, on the other, the proclivity amongst such masses for the as yet unknown “global taste”. Depending on the product promoted, the catchment area of consumers, and the specific words and images used in a particular campaign, such uneasy balance could translate into a veritable cultural “imbalance”, whereby the “Amalia-type” could splinter into a variety of esoterically conflictual “anti-types”, thus causing psychological contradictions and dilemmas both at an individual and at a collective level (we shall examine such cases below, but we may simply point here to discourse which pointedly degraded all things Greek, or was coloured by vulgar sexual overtones which could degrade Greek females, or insulted the popular masses as a whole for their anachronism, etc.).

In direct counter-response to either uneasy balances or outright imbalances provoked by an alien advertizing discourse – which could disorganize both Greek society at a cultural level and the Greek local market at an economic level – it would fall on the shoulders of ΣΕΒ (but also of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and of ΕΔΕΕ) to play a ‘homeostatic’ role within the Greek socio-cultural context. ΣΕΒ’s insistence on maintaining “balances” is evident in a variety of texts published in its Δελτίον – we here present just one sample (a policy-setting editorial) published in 1980, and which read as follows:

«Στον κοινωνικό και πολιτιστικό τομέα
εκτιμήσαμε ότι η στενή επαφή μας με
μια σειρά προηγμένες κοινωνίες θα
 γονιμοποιήσει τη δική μας παράδοση και
 πραγματικότητα και, χωρίς να αλλάξει
 τη φυσιογνωμία μας, θα την εμπλουτίσει»
(cf. Δελτίον ΣEB, Νο 426, 31.12.1980,
p. 1, my emph.).

And by 1982, when Greek society would be experiencing a deluge of things European as a result of entering the then ΕΟΚ, the Δελτίον would publish reports which would even urge for the protection of the Greek consumer – for instance, with reference to a meeting of ΣΕΒ’s Δ.Σ. on the 16th and 17th of December, 1982, and with respect to a speech delivered by Δ.Σ. member L.F. Koskos, the Δελτίον would report:

«… μίλησε με θέμα “Διάλογος καταναλωτών
και Βιομηχανίας και προστασία του
 καταναλωτή”…» (cf. Δελτίον ΣΕΒ,
Νο 446, January 1983, p. 3, my emph.).

It is beyond the intentions of this paper to examine the role of advertizing discourse from the 1980’s and on – by which time most or even all of what we have been saying above, regarding the relationship of the advertizing sector with the “Amalia-type”, would simply not apply – but the above quotes do point to the belated struggles on the part of ΣΕΒ to protect both Greek endogenous capital and the “Amalia-type”-qua-consumer from the overpowering “imbalances” that would come to characterize the Greek social formation both in the field of its economy and in the field of its socio-cultural practices.

Somehow prefiguring all this in the 1970’s, we may say that ΣΕΒ, ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and ΕΔΕΕ, while still maintaining their own strongholds in the Greek advertizing sector – especially with companies such as ΛΕΟΥΣΗΣ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ, Sigma ΕΠΕ, ABC ADVERTISING, ΑΛΕΚΤΟΡ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ, ΓΝΩΜΗ Α.Ε. and others within ΕΔΕΕ itself – would nonetheless have to face the reality of foreign advertizing giants with their own “marketing mix” working at full throttle. We have said that their strategic but dangerously dis-balancing use of such “marketing mix” would allow them to both churn out a highly “provocative-interventionist” advertizing discourse (not only in Greece but globally) and at the same time be highly successful at making at least some of their promoted products extremely popular with the Greek popular masses. As already pointed out, there would be occasions when even dwarfish local advertizing companies would themselves be tempted to adopt similar advertizing techniques, but bar the “marketing mix” which only multinationals could activate, and thus without a comparable success. In the sub-section that follows, we shall examine that one type of advertizing discourse which we have identified as “provocative- interventionist” and which, in the overall map of Greek advertizing discourse, was not to always necessarily dominate, it being just one extreme expression in the “balance of ideological compromises” that constituted a shifting sand of ideological struggle, and wherein the changing socio-cultural practices and proclivities of an “Amalia-type” would be one determining agent.

GLOSSARY

NOTES:
● « δίχως ίχνος προθέσεως εξαπατήσεως… του πελάτου»: with no trace whatsoever of any intention wishing to deceive the client
● «… από το ΚΕΣΔΙ θα δημιουργηθή η γενιά των διαφημιστών του μέλλοντος»: it is from the Training Centre for Advertizing Executives that the future generation of advertisers shall sprout
● «… το εμπόρευμά σας πρέπει να της μιλήσει»: your product must speak to her
● «άγχος»: anxiety
● «αισθήματα»: feelings
● «αισθήσεις»: the senses/the sensory system
● «αισθητική καλλιέργια του κόσμου»: the aesthetic cultivation of the public
● «ΑΚΟΜΗ ΚΑΙ Η ΜΕΡΑ ΕΧΕΙ ΤΟΝ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΤΗ ΤΗΣ»: even daytime has its own advertiser (it being the cock, and hence the name of the company – «Αλέκτορ» meaning cockerel)
● «αλλ’ ολίγον κατ’ ολίγον επανεμφανίσθη»: (cooperation) gradually reappeared/was reestablished
● «αναβοσβήνουν σε χρώμα παπαγαλί και η ατμόσφαιρα γύρω πρασινίζει»: (the letters of the advertizing board) flash in a multitude of bright, intense colours and the surrounding atmosphere takes on a greenish hue (free translation)
● «αναγωγή στο ένα»: the Platonic idea that everything is reducible to “the One”, or to “the Whole”
● «ανάλογο σεβασμό»: due respect; pay equal respect to (cf. above)
● «ανάπτυξη νέων προϊόντων»: the development of new products
● «από τους μεγαλύτερους βαμβακέμπορους στη Λιβαδειά»: one of the major cotton dealers of Levadia
● «αποτύπωση… των κοινωνικών ρευμάτων της εποχής»: a reflection of the social currents of the epoch
● «απροσάρμοστο στις απαιτήσεις της αγοράς»: unaccommodating/maladjusted to the demands of the market
● «αύξησιν της μηχανικής παραγωγής»: increase in mechanical production/manufacturing
● «Βιομηχανία Συσκευασιών Ηλιος»: Helios, Greek pasta industry; the term «συσκευασιών» refers to industrial packaging
● «ΓΙΑΤΙ ΕΠΙΒΑΛΛΕΤΑΙ Η ΣΥΣΤΑΣΗ ΜΙΑΣ ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑΣ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΩΝ»: why the establishment of a data bank is necessary
● «γνωρίζοντας καλά τα δεδομένα της Ελληνικής αγοράς»: knowing full well the hard facts of the Greek market
● «δαιμονοποίηση»: demonization
● «δεν είναι ψυχρή στατιστική»: (the consumer) is not a cold statistic
● «δι’ αυτόν και δι’ ημάς»: to the benefit of both him and us
● «δια την βελτίωσιν των μεθόδων εμπορίας»: for the improvement of marketing methods
● «διαφημιστική-θρύλος Αλέκτορ»: Alektor, the advertizing agency-legend (literal translation)
● «διέξοδον»: outlet, having recourse to
● «Δίνει μια νέα ώθησι και πνοή δημιουργίας στη διαφήμισι του τόπου μας»: it injects a fresh impetus and a creative inspiration into the advertizing of our country
● «είναι δουλειά μας να τις ικανοποιήσωμε»: it is our job/work to satisfy them
● «εισαγωγή»: introduction of the particular spice in cooking
● «εμείς εξαρτώμεθα από εκείνον»: we are dependent on him
● «ενημέρωση»: being informed, keeping up to date
● «Ενωση Διαφημιστικών Επιχειρήσεων Ελλάδος»: the Hellenic Association of Advertizing Agencies (EDEE)
● «Επιτροπή Κρίσεως»: Judging Committee
● «εργάτες»: workers
● «Η ανάγκη να βρεθή τι θέλει η μέση νοικοκυρά ωδήγησε στην επιστήμη της παρουσιάσεως των ειδών προς πώλησιν»: the need to find out what the average housewife wants led to the science of presentation/display of the goods to be sold (free translation; the text itself explains the central idea contained in the Greek version)
● «η κατανάλωση διεγείρονταν συστηματικά»: consumption was being systematically stimulated/provoked (implying that this led to consumerism, in a negative sense)
● «Η παραστατική τεχνική του Βακιρτζή με τα έντονα ζωηρά χρώματα ανανέωσε και αναβάθμισε τη διαφημιστική εικόνα του κινηματογράφου και την αφίσα του δρόμου με τέτοιο τρόπο ώστε να προσελκύει αλλά και να δείχνει τον ανάλογο σεβασμό προς το ευρύ κοινό που απευθυνόταν»: Bakirtzis’ graphic technique, with its use of intense and lively colours, renewed and upgraded the advertizing image of the cinema and the billboard in such a way as to attract attention but also – and at the same time – demonstrate its due respect for the wider public to which it was addressed (free translation)
● «Ιδρύθηκε για τη δημιουργία στελεχών, ικανών να καλύπτουν τις ανάγκες της σύγχρονης διαφημίσεως»: it was established so as to train executives who would be capable of meeting the requirements of modern advertizing
● «καλή συσκευασία»: good packaging
● «καλλιτεχνικός διευθυντής»: art director
● «καρτέλα»: label
● «κειμενογράφος»: copywriter
● «Κέντρο Προστασίας Καταναλωτών»: Consumer Protection Centre
● «Κέντρον Εκπαιδεύσεως Στελεχών Διαφημίσεως»: Training Centre for Advertizing Executives
● «κουκιά με λάδι,… ρεβίθια και τέτοια, όσπρια. Για εργάτες»: “broad beans cooked with oil,… chickpeas and the like, pulses. For workers”.
● «Κώδικα Δεοντολογίας»: code of conduct or good practice; code of (business) ethics
● «λαδοελιές»: olives
● «λάιφ στάιλ»: lifestyle
● «μαγειρεμένο λαδερό φαγητό»: dish cooked with oil/oily food
● «μας αναθέτει την ικανοποίησι των επιθυμιών του»: entrusts us with the duty to satisfy his/her wishes (alternatively: assigns us with the task of satisfying his/her wishes)
● «μερικές από τις πρώτες εταιρίες στη χώρα μας»: some of the leading companies in our country
● «μια αγορά που έτρεχε ήδη»: a market already in existence
● «μια ανεξάρτητη, αμιγώς ελληνική εταιρία»: an independent, purely Greek company
● «μια μεγαλυτέρα ευχέρεια εκλογής “ιδεών αγοράς”…»: a wider range of options pertaining to the selection of “market ideas” (free translation)
● «Να ονειρεύεσαι προσγειωμένα»: to dream, but with one’s feet firmly on the ground
● «ντολμάδες»: dolma, any of a family of stuffed vegetable dishes; especially stuffed vine leaves
● «ξέρουν»: they know
● «ο κλάδος μας βασίζεται στην ιδέα»: our sector is based on the (advertizing) concept
● «Ο μέσος άνθρωπος… ήδη παίρνει τις αποφάσεις του»: the average person is aleady making his own decisions
● «Ο σκοπός της ανταλλαγής είναι η απόλαυση, η κατανάλωση»: the object of exchange is pleasure – viz. the pleasure of consumption (free translation)
● «οι άνθρωποι ζουν γενικά το παρόν τους σαν με κάποια αφέλεια»: people generally live their own present with some sort of naivety (free translation)
● «Οι διαφημίσεις για το “Τρινάλ” ξεσήκωσαν πολύ κόσμο»: advertisements promoting “Trinal” (a degreaser/household cleaner) stirred up a lot of people
● «οι εμπορευόμενοι δίδουν προσοχήν»: the traders pay attention
● «Οι νέοι τρόποι συσκευασίας αποβλέπουν εις το να ενημερώσουν αμέσως το πελάτη»: the new modes of packaging aim at directly informing the client
● «Οργανισμός»: Lake Copais Organisation
● «οργανώνεται σε σύγχρονα με την εποχή πρότυπα και στελεχώνεται με ικανότατους συνεργάτες»: it is organized according to modern-day specifications/standards and is manned by the most competent of co-workers (free translation)
● «ορθός λόγος»: here, roughly in the sense of “reason” or “correctness”
● «ορθότητα»: correctness, similar to «ορθός λόγος» (as noted above)
● «πανοπτισμός»: being panoptic – in the sense of taking in all parts, aspects, etc., of something in a single view; all-embracing
● «πεδίο μιας ασταθούς ισορροπίας συμβιβασμών»: terrain of an unsteady balance of compromises
● «προκαταλήψεις»: prejudices
● «πρόσφερε»: offered
● «προτιμήσεις»: preferences
● «πρότυπο κατανάλωσης»: consumption pattern/model
● «σταυροδρόμι επιστημών»: a crossroads of the sciences
● «συλλογική αισθητική»: collective aesthetics
● «συμμετοχή»: participation
● «συμπύκνωση των κοινωνικών προτεραιοτήτων»: a condensation of the social priorities
● «συνειδητή προσήλωση στις αρχές του Μοντερνισμού»: a conscious commitment to the principles of modernism
● «σύνολο των στοιχείων της πολιτικής»: the sum total of the elements constituting the “policy” of any product
● «σύστημα προβολής»: star system
● «σφάλμα»: fault, error
● «Σχολή Καλών Τεχνών»: School of Fine Arts
● «Τα περισσότερα ανθρώπινα όντα λειτουργούν σαν ιστορικοί: μόνο αναδρομικά αναγνωρίζουν τη φύση της εμπειρίας τους»: most human beings function like historians: it is only in retrospect that they recognize the nature of their experience (free translation)
● «τα τυράκια»: the cheeses
● «Τμηματάρχης Προμηθειών»: Head of Provisions
● «το επίκαιρο»: that which is current; that which is relevant to the present
● «Το ΚΕΣΔΙ αποτελεί τη μοναδική συστηματική προσπάθεια για τη δημιουργία διαφημιστικών στελεχών στην Ελλάδα»: the Training Centre for Advertizing Executives constitutes the one and only systematic attempt to create pools of advertizing executives in Greece (free translation)
● «το πιο σπουδαίο πρόσωπο»: (the client is) the most important person
● «ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΩΝ»: data bank
● «Τριούμφ, τα εσώρουχα που αγαπούν τη γυναίκα»: Triumph [the brand name], the underwear that loves women (free translation)
● «Τώρα η διαφήμισις δεν είναι προϊόν αυτοσχεδιασμού. Μόνο τα σωστά εκπαιδευμένα στελέχη μπορούν να βοηθήσουν στην πρόοδο της»: Advertizing is by now no longer a product of improvisation. Only properly trained executives can assist in its progress.
● «υγιής συναγωνισμός»: healthy competition
● «φορτίο»: burden

THE “PROVOCATIVE-INTERVENTIONIST” ADVERTIZING DISCOURSE: AN EXAMINATION OF SOME SAMPLES

Our first example of “provocative-interventionist” discourse is only a rather ‘mild’ case expressive of such category, and which suggests that even within that particular category of advertisements there were various degrees of “imbalance” between the semantics chosen by the advertiser and the grassroots demands (themselves at times contradictory) or the socio-cultural realities (themselves variegated) of the Greek market. In 1967, the periodical Romantso would carry the following advertisement promoting a brand of toilet-paper:

«MELTEX… Λεπτό, λευκό, απαλότατο
χαρτί υγείας… Υγιεινή για σύγχρονους
ανθρώπους… Υγιεινή για μοντέρνους
ανθρώπους… Ζητάτε Μέλτεξ στη μοντέρνα
μπλε και κίτρινη συσκευασία»
(cf. Romantso, Νο 1248,
31.1.1967).

This advertisement, like so many others at the time, would place a distinct emphasis on the concept of “the modern”. It is meant to address itself exclusively to “modern” people – being for such type of Greek person, its discourse may be said to involve a somewhat discreet or somewhat latent attempt at dividing the Greek popular masses between those who were prepared to adopt or had adopted “modernity” as a style of life, and those who would still insist on past, anachronistic practices. Such a “reading” of this advertisement is of course subjective, in the sense that it all depends on who it is who does the reading of it – whatever divisive effect may not have been felt as such by the “Amalia-type” at all, and in fact such “type” may have even recognized itself in it. On the other hand, Amalia’s parents, bred in a rural environment and having been using the “primitive” practices of hygiene described above, could have felt alienated by a phrase such as «για σύγχρονους» or «για μοντέρνους ανθρώπους». But further, even Amalia Eleftheriadou could herself have felt some tinge of alienating provocation in that the advertisement, while promoting “modernity” in hygiene, completely ignores the fact that young ladies such as Amalia had no access to an indoor toilet, as was the case for most Aliartians at the time. While there is a definite truth in all such observations, they need to be qualified. If there is some degree of “provocative-interventionism” in the discourse of this advertisement, it would only be so for a limited and transitory period of time: gradually, and as already discussed, the product would become an absolutely natural need throughout Greece. Writing of the years 1966-1967, Maro Douka tells us that a related product, the «σόφτεξ» toilet paper, would even be available in the toilets of at least some factories – the narrator tells us how an employer would complain about the demands of her employees as follows:

«Μα τι στην οργή θέλουν; Ασπιρίνες θέλουν;
χαρτομάντιλα, γκόμενες;… Ως και σόφτεξ τους
έχει στους καμπινέδες. Τι διάολο θέλουν;»
(cf. Maro Douka, Ηaρχαία σκουριά [Ancient Rust]Κέδρος,
1980 [2nd edition], p. 25).

Apart from the fact that the “MELTEX” advertisement is only a ‘mild’ example of “provocative-interventionism”, and apart from the fact that its “provocation” is relative and only transient, it also is what we may call “culturally neutral”. The essentially “neutral cultural content” of its discourse lies in the fact that it avoids comparing the Greek socio-cultural reality with some other ‘superior’ foreign culture. Unlike so many other advertisements which we shall be discussing below, it is free of what Roupa (op. cit., p. 261) has referred to as the «μεταπολεμική ξενική επίδραση» or of the “Americanization” of the Greek way of life (cf. “diafimisi” – http://diafimisi..., op. cit., p. 1). Generally, then, we have here an advertizing discourse which is characterized by a slight and transitory “imbalance” and which steers clear of cultural provocation and bias, but which nonetheless does belong to that family of advertizing discourse which we have identified as “provocative- interventionist”.

Yet another sample of advertizing discourse which may be said to have balanced on the threshold of “provocative-interventionism”, though again only slightly or only ambiguously so, and which appeared as early as 1961 in Kathimerini , is the following:

«Princessa… Contessa… 2 ΨΥΓΕΙΑ
ΚΟΜΨΑ ΚΑΙ ΓΕΡΑ…
ΠΡΟΪΟΝΤΑ ΤΗΣ ΠΙΤΣΟΣ…
Ένα ψυγείο για πάντα…»
(cf. Kathimerini, 23.5.1961).

It is most probable that Amalia Eleftheriadou would not have had much access to a newspaper such as the Kathimerini, the latter not being too popular amongst Aliartians in the 1960’s. Still, advertisements which appeared in this paper were reproduced in more widely-read papers such as the Apogevmatini or the Akropolis, or they would be reproduced in the popular periodicals. Now, in this early-1960’s advertisement we observe that the quality of a product manufactured by a Greek company is related to foreign prototypes (Italian) by the sheer naming of such products: “Princessa”/“Contessa”. The element of “Greekness” is played down: what really matters is that the “PITSOS” [«ΠΙΤΣΟΣ»] fridges are «ΚΟΜΨΑ» and «ΓΕΡΑ» in terms of a Euro-Italian quality gauge. This constitutes a certain “imbalance”, suggesting a techno-cultural inferiority as regards things manufactured by Greek industry. On the other hand, we well know that the relative technological “inferiority” of Greek-made products was simply an objective fact. And we also know that the “Amalia-type” did herself attend to and nurture a growing taste for all things European – and which was itself a “natural” proclivity given the objective superiority of foreign technology, thus making such “Amalia-type” taste an objective fact as well. Thus, the “PITSOS” advertisement seems to contain a relative “imbalance” or “cultural bias” which only reflected certain objective circumstances.

If it be true that the discourse of this advertisement merely reflected an objective reality, there seems to be little reason why we need include it within the wider family of “provocative-interventionist” advertizing discourse. But here we need to place such advertisement within the wider context of the truly acute ideological struggle that was being waged in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s over the quality of imported products vis-à-vis those of the endogenous manufacturing sector. As we shall further see below, the “Greekness” of a product such as a fridge would often be presented by the local advertizing industry as “the triumph” of a Greek company to manufacture best-quality products both for the local and for the international markets. Thus, to name your products in a manner which reminded the Greek public of foreign technology would be self-defeating, if not “provocative”, at least in the sense of undermining the ideological strategies of many local manufacturers. Unlike so many other advertisements promoting Greek products, therefore, the “PITSOS” advertisement here seems to be reinforcing the superiority of foreign technology while making no appeal to “the triumph” of Greek technology as such – and therefore the “balance” of its discourse gently tips towards a European-foreign bias. It thus expresses a mildly “interventionist” discourse and which mimics the discourse of multi-national corporations which at times equated quality to foreignness. Still, there is no real “provocation” as regards the tastes of the “Amalia-type” (though such “type” could itself also share in a sense of pride when it came to the local technological “triumph” – often enough, hundreds of Boeotian villagers would be working for companies such as IZOLA and be buying at discount prices the things they themselves had helped produce).

But not only did the “PITSOS” advertisement not directly “provoke” the “Amalia-type” – it in fact addressed itself to the Greek economic reality of the early-1960’s which such “type” experienced. It speaks of the “durability” of its fridges and is therefore aware of the “Amalia-type’s” need to buy products which would not have to be renewed too often, given the limited consumer capacity of a female “Clerk”. This does not in any way contradict what we have said above as regards the general trend to continually renew things on the part of the popular masses. For one thing, as regards the majority of people in the very early-1960’s, such renewing of products would usually be a move from the very “primitive” appliances to the first generation of manufactured products. Further, the renewal which would take place would usually cover products less expensive than that of a fridge. For the “Amalia-type”, the wish for renewal (which could here be fulfilled by buying a “PITSOS” fridge) would have to go hand-in-hand and be balanced with the need for durability. It would only be the further increase of consumer power by the very late-1960’s and the ultimate dysfunctionality of a technological device (rendered so by new technological innovations – cf. Antonioli above), which would lead the “Amalia-type” to a renewal of even her “modern” fridge. The Greek reality of the early-1960’s was therefore understood and acknowledged by this “PITSOS” advertisement: its phrase «για πάντα» played on the relative material needs of the consumer, and therefore adjusted its discourse to such needs. The same phrase, «για πάντα», would also address itself to the relative ‘aesthetic’ needs of the “Amalia-type”, assuring her that the advent of the new elegant style («ΚΟΜΨΑ») has come to stay. Of course, one could argue that such promise – «για πάντα» – is “manipulative” in that it is absolute, and which would make the discourse “provocative” for the “Amalia-type”. But that is to forget that such language is a sine qua non of whatever market transaction, in whatever social formation, and it is up to the freedom of the buyer to verify or qualify any promises of “absolute durability” through the mere usage of what has been bought.

We may summarize our evaluation of this 1961 advertisement of “PITSOS” fridges as follows: while there is a slight “imbalance” for Euro-technology and a silent devaluation of the “Greekness” of the product (and which therefore constitutes a negative “intervention” as regards the interests of endogenous manufacturers), it nonetheless expresses a slight “balance” for the material and ‘aesthetic’ needs of the “Amalia-type”. It is of much socio-historical interest that here we have an advertizing discourse which disadvantages the Greek manufacturing sector as a whole so that the European tastes of the consumer be satisfied. We know, of course, that Capital-as-a-Whole can often work against itself. And that was one dysfunction which bodies such as ΕΔΕΕ would struggle to redress.

………………………………

If the two above advertisements are samples of a transient or of only a slight “imbalance” between the purported intentions of the advertizing discourse and the degree of “provocation” that the Greek popular masses (or even endogenous capital) could digest, what follows are examples of advertizing discourse which may be said to be an almost full-blooded “provocation” of the popular practices of the Greek people. In 1964, the periodical Romantso would carry the following advertisement promoting the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» serviette, and which could potentially have insulted at least a section of the Greek female population – it read as follows:

«Δεν ζήτε στον παληό καιρό…
για να χρησιμοποιήτε αναχρονιστικές
μεθόδους. Η εποχή μας απαιτεί μέσα
πρακτικά και προστατευτικά της
υγιεινής… Με την ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ στις κρίσιμες
ημέρες του μηνός έχετε απόλυτη
εξασφάλιση»
(cf. Romantso, No 1116,
21.7.1964).

There is a definite “interventionist provocation” in the discourse of this advertisement because it rejects as “anachronistic” the set practices of millions of Greek women of most age-groups in the early-1960’s. It “provoked”, because one section of the female population would continue using strips of cloth when they had their period. Pavlos Matesis, writing of the post-war era in his Η μητέρα του σκύλου [The Mother of the Dog, Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, Athens, 1990, p. 72), describes the use of such strips of cloth – his female character, «Ρουμπίνη», has this to say of the practice:

«… χρησιμοποιούσαμε πανί περκάλι, το
ράβαμε σε σχήμα Τ και τα μεταχειριζόμαστε
ξανά και ξανά μέχρι να ρέψουν. Άσε που τα
μπουγαδιασμένα τα κρεμούσαμε στο μπαλκόνι
ή στην αυλή, και όλη η γειτονιά ήξερε τις
ημερομηνίες μας. Και δώσ’ του κουτσομπολιό,
διότι μερικές γειτόνισσες κρατούσαν
λογαριασμό. Καλέ, σου έλεγαν φέρ’ ειπείν,
της Νίτσας του Καρατσολιά καιρό έχουν να
της έρθουνε, δεν είδα ρούχα απλωμένα, τι
συμβαίνει, καθυστέρηση, ή αρρεβωνιάστηκε;».

And further, the vast majority of women (approximately 80%) would take up and  continue to use the classical «χαρτοβάμβακα» for their needs. Whether as a result of habit, or so as to cut on expenditures, they would insist on such specific hygiene practices (some quite “primitive”, as in the case of the cloth; others not at all so, as in the case of the «χαρτοβάμβακα»).

The advertisement views their methods as symptomatic of a refusal to abandon the «παληό καιρό». And it goes even further: it seems to be telling the Greek female that she does not know the new epoch that has already dawned in Greece, and done so despite her. In that sense, it engineers an ideological divide and contradistinction between, on the one hand, “the epoch”, and, on the other, “the people”, as if it is not the latter that de facto constitute or make whatever “epoch”. This advertizing discourse is thus characterized by a show of the “global modernizing power” – expressive of the anarchically arrogant discourse of foreign advertizing giants (op. cit.) – which suggests that “modernity” belongs to it («η εποχή μας») and which those beneath such “power” had better adopt. The discourse could therefore alienate even the younger “Amalia-type”, who could have felt insulted by an advertisement that openly questioned a people’s awareness of the “modern times” that supposedly flew over their heads. And yet the “Amalia-type” could see herself – and finally even older women around her – naturally adopting the use of a serviette such as «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» without at the same time feeling that they were bending to the instructions of an advertisement which admonished them for their lingering “anachronism” («Δεν ζήτε…»). Here, if the particular product «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» was bought by the “Amalia-type”, it would have been done so given the “marketing mix” – as discussed above – which would accompany it. But much more importantly, the “Amalia-type” would have come to use whatever brand of serviette since such “type” as was Amalia constituted an organic part of the Greek process of “modernization”. It was of course foreign technology that offered such “type” the means for such “modernization” – it was that “type”, however, that was the historical agent of “modernization” in Greece. The products of so-called “capitalist technology” would have been no commodities at all unless the popular masses chose to consume them – it was precisely such fact that the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» advertisement would wish to obfuscate in its show of “global modernizing power”, and in that sense the creators of such discourse would be in full agreement with the likes of Adorno and company, who very simply reduced the phenomenon of consumption to a practice imposed on people.

But the discourse of the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» advertisement goes even further in its “provocation”: not only does it look down on a people who are supposedly blind to “modernity” – it also absolutely rejects their own «παληό καιρό». It thus fails to capture the socio-cultural reality of a people which combined their “traditionalism” and “localism” with the “modern”. As such, this advertizing discourse ignores the Leoussis principle that an advertisement should constitute a «συμπύκνωση… της ιστορικής συγκυρίας» (op. cit.), or ignores Bakirtzis’ insistence that an advertisement should show «τον ανάλογο σεβασμό προς το ευρύ κοινό» (op. cit.).

Now, as in the case of all or most ideological discourse, here too, the advertizing discourse of the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» advertisement could only but also contain elements of a certain positive material content: the fact of a new, more comfortable and perhaps more hygienic serviette could not have been ignored by any “Amalia-type” as an unnecessary “luxury”. In that sense, even this “provocative-interventionist” advertisement cannot be rejected out of hand as mere “manipulation”.

Even more importantly, the “provocative-interventionism” of the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» discourse had to contain elements within it which would control the “provocation” and delimit the cultural damage or shock it could effect – it would thus also contain elements of a positive ethical content, and which means that it would attempt to maintain a certain internal “balance” between its “provocative-interventionism” and the ethico-cultural codes of the Greek popular masses (and especially those of Greek women). How does it do this? The discourse shows a respect for the so-called “taboos” of the Greek woman of the 1960’s: it avoids using the term “period” in its choice of words – such word having been avoided by the popular masses generally in the 1960’s and even on to the 1970’s – and rather chooses to use the phrase «κρίσιμες ημέρες» as substitute. Specifically as regards this point, it abides by article 1 of the ΕΔΕΕ «Κώδικα Δεοντολογίας», which stipulates that the customs and ethics of the Greek consumer not be insulted (op. cit.). It here also abides by the Bakirtzis principle of «ανάλογο σεβασμό».

Thus, the general conclusions we may draw about this advertisement promoting the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» serviette in 1964 are the following:

  • It is characterized by a discourse typical of the anarchic advertizing giants which were able to “intervene” and “provoke” the Greek consumer given their “marketing mix”, and as such “mix” was reinforced by their global economic clout;
  • Despite their economic might and autonomous discourse anarchy, the promoters of this product nonetheless still had to abide by at least some of the set principles of ΕΔΕΕ – the latter being, as already discussed above, an ideological apparatus deeply rooted in the socio-cultural practices of the Greek consumer and whose knowledge of this Greek terrain could not easily or not always be ignored. As we also know, ΕΔΕΕ was itself an umbrella organization which housed companies related to the advertizing giants, and which meant that its ideological position would influence such giants to some degree;
  • Most importantly, the “provocative-interventionism” of the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» discourse could be and was relatively checked by the very presence of the “Amalia-type”, such “type” being a consumer whose “thought and attention” had to be taken into account.

………………………………

Our next sample of “provocative-interventionism” is an advertisement promoting the Philips-manufactured “PHILISHAVE” in early-1960’s Greece. On December 25th, 1962, the periodical Romantso would publish the following advertisement:

«ΕΝΑ ΕΥΠΡΟΣΔΕΚΤΟ ΔΩΡΟ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΥ…
PHILISHAVE…
ΖΗΤΕ ΣΤΟ 1900 ‘Η ΣΤΟ 1963; –
Στις αρχές του 20ου Αιώνος το ξύρισμα
ήταν πολυτέλεια περιττή… σήμερα είναι
 καθημερινό καθήκον…»
(cf. Romantso, No 1034,
25.12. 1962, their emph.).

An electric shaver would not of course have directly interested Amalia Eleftheriadou herself, though she could have “dreamt” of presenting such a product as a Christmas gift, perhaps to her brother Leonidas, or to her father, or to some male friend. As elsewhere discussed, advertizing discourse would often grab the opportunity to make full use of the real circumstances of people so as to attract their attention – here, the Christmas season would yet again allow the discourse to speak of a «ΔΩΡΟ». How realistic would it have been for Amalia Eleftheriadou to have bought such device as a present for someone close to her? In 1962, when this advertisement appeared, the “PHILISHAVE” cost 400 drachmas – this would practically mean that Amalia would have to work for a whole six-day week so as to earn that sum in, say, 1968 (as we know, she would then be earning 65 drachmas per day at the A&M company, with an inflation rate of 0,3%; in 1962, the rate had stood at 0,4%).

It therefore seems quite questionable whether Amalia would have wished, at that period of her working-life, to have entertained the realization of such “luxury dream” – that the advertisement spoke of a «καθημερινό καθήκον» for Greek males could have perplexed or even alienated her. What the advertisement told her and her compatriots would not automatically ‘connect’ with the cultural and material reality of working people at Aliarto in the early-1960’s. Were Amalia to have presented a male Aliartian with the “PHILISHAVE” as a Christmas gift in the 1960’s, the receptor would most probably have been puzzled both with Amalia and with the gadget itself. Possibly out of respect for the gesture of the young lady, the recipient could have tried using it once or twice for a shave – and done so in jest – and he would then have completely abandoned the usage of it. And, quite naturally, Amalia would have been instinctually aware of such reaction. Further, and hypothetically speaking, were Amalia to have been prompted to buy such a gadget on the basis of the exact wording of this advertizing discourse, she would know that she would be presenting her male compatriots at Aliarto with a «καθήκον» they were supposedly unaware of, and she would  as much be burdening them with such a «καθήκον». In all, it seems that the “Amalia-type” would most probably have been repulsed by such an advertisement, and it would therefore be of some interest for our purposes to examine what lies behind such an example of all-sided “provocative-interventionism” which seemed to ignore both consumer capacity and consumer habits and tastes.

To begin with, the “PHILISHAVE” advertizing discourse openly doubts the common sense intelligence and above all the worldly awareness of the Greek popular masses – in a manner reminiscent of the «ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ» advertisement we have discussed above, it doubts the temporal consciousness of the Greek consumer and blatantly poses such consumer the question: «ΖΗΤΕ ΣΤΟ 1900 ‘Η ΣΤΟ 1963;». It asks Greeks, therefore, whether they think they belong to a period of time well prior to both of the two world wars or to the “modern age” of the “PHILISHAVE” – the electrical device is presented as symbolic of the “mature” world of the post-war “modern age” while Greeks are questioned as if belonging to the “infantile” primitiveness of a humanity just about to enter the 20th century, and which was a humanity which had little sense of its personal ‘aesthetics’ (question of shaving as a “luxury”). By implication, six whole decades could divide the Greek popular masses from the rest of the world, unless they made use of the “PHILISHAVE”. The obvious implication is an absolute “provocation” and an external “intervention” in the socio-cultural practices of a people who were themselves gradually and painfully trying to find their own way in a relatively autonomous process which was to construct the Greek middle class milieu. Whatever the accuracies underlying the questioning of this discourse about the realities of the Greek people in the early-1960’s, such questioning would nonetheless be dysfunctional vis-à-vis the socio-cultural realities and developments of Greek popular customs and habits, and the questioning itself would constitute a violation of article 1 of the ΕΔΕΕ  «Κώδικα».

On closer reading, the “PHILISHAVE” discourse goes even further: it throws an indirect insult to the Greek male as such and does so by pointing to his possibly “uncivilized” or “uncouth” state – that which is now a “duty” for males of the 20th century, still remains a «πολυτέλεια περιττή» for the Greek, unless of course he shaves daily with the use of a “PHILISHAVE”.

But it is not just that the discourse questions the common sense, the worldly awareness, and the habits of Greek males – it actually adopts a rhetorical stance which reminds one of 18th or 19th century colonialists in Africa trying their best to “civilize” the “natives”. Notice the sheer arrogance of a phrase such as «ΔΩΡΟ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΥ»: to anyone who has some knowledge of how British colonialists would first come into contact with the tribes of the African continent, he would surely be struck by certain similarities in the “civilizing process”. If the British would present the African tribes with “presents” such as little mirrors, the Philips multinational would present the “natives” of Greece with their own «ΔΩΡΟ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΥ» – in this case, an electric shaving gadget. The African would for the first time get the chance to see his face in a mirror; likewise, the Greek would for the first time get the chance to see his civilized, routinely shaven face in his own mirror. Both African and Greek would be drawn into the market-economy, etc. Of course, it would be historically inaccurate and methodologically wrong to wish to reduce the history of colonialism in Africa to what was happening in Greece in the post-war years – any equation of the sort would be to fall into the trap of a vulgar, usually “Left-wing” demagogy. But keeping this in mind, there are at least certain superficial parallels which one cannot simply ignore: we all know of the famous “White man’s burden” to “civilize” the African “savages”. Compare this to the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement: the latter does not simply try to sell a product by focusing on its material function as such – it relates the product to a clear concern for the cultural state of the Greek people, and sees itself as carrying the burden of having to “uplift” such state (expressive of the year 1900) to that of the glorious dawn of 1963 (the advertisement, we remember, had been published by late December 1962).

But there is yet still another aspect to that term, the «ΔΩΡΟ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΥ», which forces one to draw certain parallels between British colonialist thinkers such as Kipling (and the bearing of “gifts” to the African “savages”), and the “gift” which the multinational Philips wants to make available to the Greek people. Both the British colonialists in Africa and the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement in Greece did intend to “manipulate” the masses, though in different ways and for different purposes (and both were “interventionist” through their “imperial’ power). In the case of “PHILISHAVE”, which is what concerns us here, the sheer choice of the word «ΔΩΡΟ» can be psychologically “manipulative” in that it can be taken to suggest that Philips per se is distributing Christmas gifts – of the civilizing sort – to the popular masses of Greece (no matter, of course, who actually had to pay for these).

How does one explain the sheer “provocative” audacity and unadulterated arrogance of such “imbalanced” advertizing discourse? The company behind such discourse was no fly-by-night company, and even a half-educated shepherd in the Theban village of Domvraina would have heard of the “brand name”. But although the Philips company – at least as a mere “brand name” – had managed to penetrate and settle in the common «nous» of the Greek popular masses, it nonetheless remained – as an ‘imperial’ power – absolutely alien to such masses. The paradox is explainable: while Amalia Eleftheriadou had direct contact with the name of the Philips company via the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement which she could see and touch in the particular Romantso periodical she held in her hands, that same “PHILISHAVE” product itself would stem from an economic “leviathan” absolutely beyond her imagination. But if Amalia could not possibly “imagine” the reality of the “leviathan” that constituted Philips, neither could the latter itself grasp the corresponding “grassroots leviathan” which constituted the rich and complex contradictions of the Greek popular masses, and which would double the alienation. As we shall note below, it would only be after the mid-1960’s that the Philips company would see the need to turn to «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ» (cf. above, with reference to the later relationship between the Philips company and «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ») so as to be able to market its various shaving products to a wider public. In the early-1960’s, however, the Philips giant was swooping down on the Greek socio-cultural terrain with an “imperial” might and autonomy which blinded it from the reality. Its might and autonomy would place itself “in command”, not the “Amalia-type” and her male compatriots. Here, the advertizing principles of an ΕΛΚΕΠΑ or the later ΕΔΕΕ would be quite helpless.

What, in fact, constituted the “imperial” strength of a company such as Philips? The facts are more or less familiar. We know, for instance, that the Philips company was to come to employ thousands of people across more than 60 countries around the world. This Dutch-based diversified technological/electronic multinational company – with layers upon structural layers of ownership and control mechanisms across the globe – had set up a special division called the Philips Domestic Appliances and Personal Care Unit. It would be such Unit which would manufacture the electric shaver “PHILISHAVE” in 1939. By 1948, it would be a US designer who would take over the designing of such shaver. Global sales would surge from 1951 and on, and by the 1960’s we would have the introduction of the “PHILISHAVE” battery shaver (not the one advertised in the Romantso periodical).

But what is of major interest to us is to see how such “imperial” power would behave – in terms of promotional strategy – when it would come to conquer a share in the US market following the post-war period. While, as we have seen, it would at first remain blindly arrogant to the socio-cultural tastes of the supposedly “peripheral” Greek popular masses, its promotional strategy in the ideological terrain of the mighty USA would be radically different. Here, the “provocative-interventionism” would completely disappear and a ‘delicate’ strategy of “compromising adjustment” would be immediately implemented – something which surely constitutes an irrefutable verification of our methodological approach in seeking to differentiate between the “provocative” and the “compromising” in advertizing discourse as determined by the objective socio-cultural a priori historical realities of a people. In the USA, the socio-cultural reality of the consumer – and especially given his major economic clout – could at no point in time be ignored, as it never in fact was, even on the part of that global “leviathan” Philips.

What was the post-war Philips promotional strategy of all its products (including shavers) within the USA? Its strategy, we have said, was ‘delicately’ compromising. Well, it would be so ‘delicate’ with the US consumer that it would be absolutely hard towards its own image. What was it that it would do to itself? Very simply, it would obliterate itself when presenting its products to the US consumer, and it would do so because that was exactly what such consumer demanded. The “Philips” name was not to be used at all in the USA because “a shift to the Philips name could have alienated those US buyers who were reluctant to purchase foreign brands”. (cf., inter alia, http://en.wikipedia.org). Thus, not only would it not “intervene” or “provoke”, it would in fact “adjust” its promotional strategy to the point of hiding behind the name “NORELCO”. And it was a real hiding game, because the brand name “NORELCO” actually stood for “North American Philips electrical Company”, but the “P” for “Philips” simply did not appear therein: the promoters would only make use of the “Nor” for “North”, the “el” for “electrical”, and the “Co” for “Company”. One could argue that here the Philips company was bluffing the American public – but that is to miss the point: it was bluffing people, but it was doing so to the point of annihilating itself as a brand in the representations of its own discourse. The real point is that the Philips advertizing discourse directed to the US public had no choice but to respect the “consumer patriotism” of such public, and which meant that Philips feared the possible reactions of such public were such “patriotism” to have been violated.

All this stands in stark contrast to what was happening in the early-1960’s in Greece – as we have seen, and judging by just that one sample of the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement, the Philips company would be adopting that highly “imperialist” discourse paternalistically meted out to its as yet “uncivilized” subjects: «ΖΗΤΕ ΣΤΟ 1900…;». But the question now is how such “subjects” would actually respond to such “provocation”.

The Greek so-called “anachronistic” popular masses would quite simply ignore both the “provocation” and the “PHILISHAVE” product. We have no statistics to verify such outright rejection of the electric shaver. But we can say that the vast majority of the popular masses in the 1960’s did ignore such Philips “Personal Care” gadget based on our knowledge of the everyday shaving habits of Greek males at the time. Here, at least, we may set aside the use of any statistical data and rather concentrate on the sociological observation of everyday practices in the early-1960’s.

To begin with, we may say that it was common practice amongst most Aliartian males, by way of an example, to go to their barber for a shave. According to the Aliartian barber (op. cit., interview, December 21, 2009), this would cost his clients a mere 2,5 drachmas in the early-1960’s. The whole procedure of getting a shave at the barber shop would be combined with an at times endless process of socializing amongst male friends. The barber, his client and a whole crowd of on-lookers, would engage in lively, gregarious discussions on matters which would include issues of politics (at times with a pinch of self-censorship), “social gossip” and, of course, women. The company could even play pranks on one another. Very importantly, the barber would also function as a strategic link in the chain of client-patron relationships between his clients and some member of the Greek Parliament (in the specific case of our Aliartian barber, the latter would be a “representative” of Demosthenes Kinias, an «Ένωση Κέντρου» MP – and cf. 4η προφορική μαρτυρία: Ευάγγελος Μουράτης, 16.3.2009, Αλίαρτος). As importantly, the barber shop would also function as an informal employment bureau, whereby the barber would connect people to employers such as Marakis, the A&M Mill-owner. Such socializing and self-help network, centered around a visit to the local barber for a shave, could not possibly have been violated by any advertisement promoting “PHILISHAVE”. The Dutch-based multi-national had no real inkling as to what was happening at the grassroots level, at least in places such as Aliarto. (With respect to shaving practices and how going to a barber for a shave was a non-“Western” habit in England even prior to WWI, cf. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, op. cit., p. 127).

Not all, however, would go to the barber for a shave, and of those who did, some would not always do so. In both the former and the latter cases, people would give themselves a shave using the traditional barber’s razor which, according to K.G. Pitty, had been discovered way back in the 16th century but which «είναι βαθύ, αποτελεσματικό στο κόψιμο του γενιού» (cf. Kyriaki G. Pitty, «Έρευνα της αγοραστικής συμπεριφοράς των νέων ανδρών σε σχέση με τα προϊόντα περιποίησης δέρματος του προσώπου», Πανεπιστήμιο Πειραιώς, 2006, and which includes some references to Greek shaving practices in the 1960’s). Be it due to sheer habit or be it due to the effectivity of such traditional instrument, many males would continue to use it even through to the 1970’s. As to traditionalism and shaving habits, we may here point to a 1925 text (in the form of a dialogue) where even the use of the razor, in whatever form, would be rejected when it came to the Cretan moustache. The weekly newspaper Astrapi [Αστραπή], published in Rethymno in the 1920’s, would carry the following text entitled «Το μουστάκι» [“The Moustache”]:

« “… Τραγικά είνε  τα πράγματα. Τραγικόν
είναι να βλέπης σήμερον τον άνδρα να
διαμαρτύρεται κατά της φύσεως ότι άνδρα
αυτόν εποίησε και ού γυναίκα…”.
[Response:] “Σαν να μου φαίνεται πως
θέλεις να πης για το κόψιμο του μουστακιού”.
[Counter-response:] “Μάλιστα… Οι νόμοι της
φύσεως, αδελφέ μου, έδωσαν εις τον άνδρα
μουστάκια, αλλ’ ο άνθρωπος κατεστρατήγησε
τον νόμον αυτόν ανακαλύψας το ξυράφι και
το DEPILATOIRE”» (cf. Astrapi, Νο 3,
1.5.1925, p. 1).

At least as regards Cretans, many of whom resided in Athens and Piraeus suburbs in the 1960’s, or had gone to Aliarto to work at the A&M Mill (Marakis himself a Cretan), one could say that a significant number would certainly have endorsed such mentality about shaving their moustache.

But that did not at all mean that the Greek male generally – and especially the young Greek male – was inertly stuck on past habit: people’s shaving habits would progress gradually and in a manner which linked or bridged their traditional shaving practices to the ‘new’ which the market would offer them. Thus, in the course of the 1960’s, many males would opt for a device which reminded them of the traditional barber’s razor but was much safer and easier to use, that of course being the Gillette safety razor (i.e. the cartridge blade razors). Unlike the electric “PHILISHAVE”, which required the use of electricity (something not at all available in the outdoor toilet) and which did not offer a ‘deep’ shave (cf. Pitty, op. cit.), the use of the Gillette safety razor would be an organic outgrowth of past shaving practices and would spread in the course of time. Like the young “Amalia-type”, its male counterparts would use their “thought and attention” to select what was both familiar (the blade) and practical (the cartridge). “Modernization” in shaving practices was therefore happening, but in a manner naturally delimited by the given socio-cultural context. The “provocative- interventionism” of the “PHILISHAVE” discourse would be generally ignored and young males would adopt a love-hate relationship with advertisements promoting Gillette. As regards such critical love-hate relationship with an advertisement promoting a device they would ultimately opt to use (the Gillette safety razor) we may here consider how one young man would ‘respond’ to such an advertisement playing on his little transistor while riding his motorbike:

«… – Κάτι συνέβη, ακούστηκε μια φωνή με
συγκρατημένη αγωνία απ’ το τρανζίστορ.
– Τι συνέβη; αναπήδησε ο Φάνης και φρενάρισε.
– Κάτι συνέβη στη Ζιλέτ!».

And to which the youth Fanis would respond:

«… – Άι στο διάολο ρε καριόλη, κι ανησύχησα».

But the commercial would continue:

«… Η Ζιλέτ πήρε πλατίνα, ένα μέταλλο τρεις
φορές σκληρότερο κι απ’ τ’ ατσάλι και το
χρησιμοποίησε για να σφυρηλατήσει μια νέα
κόψη Σούπερ Σίλβερ, μια κόψη ενισχυμένη με
πλατίνα και δημιούργησε ένα νέο ξυραφάκι…
Τώρα κάτι καινούριο στα ξυραφάκια».

And then Fanis, assured that nothing serious had really happened, would go on to simply and naturally ignore the commercial he had just been ‘conversing’ with (cf. Nikos Nikolaides, Ο οργισμένος Βαλκάνιος, Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη [4Η Έκδοση], Αθήνα, 1983, p. 50). But young males like Fanis in the 1960’s would rarely, if at all, take a gadget such as the “PHILISHAVE” seriously (let alone the insults of the advertising discourse promoting it). K.G. Pitty, in her study mentioned above, points to the practical pros and cons of using a razor-blade and to those of using an electric shaver. Such pros and cons may have been quite feasible, but such dilemmas were simply not entertained by the majority of the Greek popular masses in the 1960’s, and that should not simply be explained in economic terms (the 400 drachmas of the “PHILISHAVE”) – let alone in terms of a dogmatically economistic causal relationship. Their choice to either visit their barber for a shave, or to use a shaving instrument introduced to them by their fathers (or the barber himself), or to finally go ahead and buy themselves the Gillette cartridge blade razor – all this was part of a necessary cluster of habits gradually mutating according to its own rhythm and with the progress of time. Such habitual behaviour would of course be responsive to advertisements related to personal care – we would clearly see this when it came to Gillette – but it would not be responsive when both the product and the advertizing discourse would simply fail to place the social-cultural needs of the Greek male “in command”, and we have seen how the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement blatantly placed its own “civilizing” agenda in such “command”, despite the realities of the “Amalia-type” or those of a Fanis. In the case of the latter, his “models” of life were a complex mixture of the “Greekness” one found in the popular suburbs such as those of Petroupolis (one of the young man’s characteristic sayings would be «Ξύπνα ρε, αυτή η χώρα που ζούμε είναι το πιο ανώμαλο ρήμα του κόσμου… Βούρλο!», op. cit., p. 7), as also an adoption of the lifestyles of Marlon Brando (“The Wild One”) or James Dean (“Rebel Without A Cause”). If for Amalia Eleftheriadou the “PHILISHAVE” may have been fleetingly considered as a possible “Christmas gift” (despite its advertizing discourse), for Fanis the mere image that such object was related to would have been an anathema for the likes of him. If he would ever come close to considering the idea of giving himself a shave, he would automatically have opted for something like the more humble Gillette safety razor.

By 1974-5, and as was happening at a global level, the Greek market would introduce to the popular masses the BIC disposable razor, whereby for the first time the entire razor could be disposed of after a certain period of usage. Here again, the vast majority of Greek males would willingly adopt BIC for their shaving purposes – as in the case of the BIC ballpoint pen, so also here, the cheapness and practicality of such truly “modern” object would naturally attract people to it. The BIC disposables were especially popular among Greek teenagers, something which applied to the rest of teenagers around the world (or at least the so-called “Western world”). Unlike the pretentious arrogance of the “PHILISHAVE” advertizing discourse, the French-based BIC (itself directly competing with Gillette) would concentrate its promotional strategy on the simple functionality of the product, and would thus create advertizing discourse with what we would call a high positive material content – such “functional materiality” in the discourse would be a rather accurate reflection of the real qualities of the BIC disposable razor, and people would verify this in practice. BIC advertizing discourse would focus on the theme of “just what’s necessary” and, at a both local and global level, would speak of “The shave that saves”. Taking various forms in countries around the world, the discourse suggesting a salvaging of things would imply that users of BIC would be “saving” their skin, their time, as also their money.

Of course, the BIC company itself belonged to the category of global giants such as Philips, but it would nonetheless generally avoid a strategy of “provocative-interventionism”, specifically as regards the issue of “culture-bias” – we know that it would be an oversimplification to suggest that there was ever any iron rule which linked the size of a company to the form that its advertizing discourse would take (one can only speak here of some tendency, but which had its exceptions). In the case of the BIC company, its product as such – in this case, the simple disposable razor (though not only, if one also considers the ballpoint pen and the lighter) – had no real need for a culturally-biased “provocative- interventionism”. Further, the razor was a true child of “modernity” and that, especially given its capacity to “save” on physical exertion and money, and therefore represented a form of what we may call “populist modernity”. Importantly, it was also a gadget closely related to personal care and looks in an age of the sexual revolution in Greece, when young males were becoming increasingly self-conscious and eager to openly attract and experiment with the opposite sex. BIC products, therefore, also represented a specific “youthful modernity”. And the advertizing discourse of BIC products, in contrast to that of the negatively questioning “PHILISHAVE”, positively affirmed and reinforced the image of Greek youth and its wish to look handsome in a “modern” way.
And therefore, and again in contrast to the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement, the BIC razor would attract the full attention of the Greek popular masses, especially that of the young, though also of whoever wished to look young, whatever his age. Soon, even the “Amalia-type” would be buying it for herself: young ladies would use it to shave their legs and armpits, a practice also related to the sexual revolution.

Now, having said all this, we still need to point to a special element of BIC advertizing discourse which, while clearly distinguishing it from the “PHILISHAVE” discourse, nonetheless made it especially “provocative” in a very specific sense. Often enough, the BIC advertizing discourse could be “sexually provocative”, and could thus be said to have been violating the ΕΔΕΕ «Κώδικα» set out in the 1970’s. On the other hand, one could say that such particular advertizing strategy could get away with murder, so to speak, since it directly expressed the new sexual identity of Greek youth, given the overtly “sexual revolution” headed by such youth (as was happening in most of the post-war “Western world”).

At a global level and especially in the English-speaking world, the BIC low-cost plastic lighter would be popularized with the use of the obvious highly “sexually provocative” slogan, “Flick my BIC”. Advertisements on TV would show sensuous women urging cigarette smokers to “flick” their “BIC”. From what we know, at least in America, the sexual connotations of such discourse would become part of the popular national lexicon – something which must surely be of much interest to social historians and linguists alike. Now, such discourse would filter through to the Greek socio-cultural context, and especially given Greek youth’s dramatic re-definition and re-evaluation of its relationship to its body. The sexual insinuations of the slogan “Flick my BIC” – which of course suggests that a male is urged to “light the fire” of a female – would translate into the Greek slogan «ΑΝΑΒΕΙ… ΑΝΑΒΕΙ… ΑΝΑΒΕΙ», and which would be accompanied by the depiction of provocative females. Of course, the use of the Greek word «ΑΝΑΒΕΙ» would itself provoke the sexuality of itching youths, both male and female: as all Greeks know and as the Babiniotis Dictionary confirms, the word «ανάβω» can mean «προκαλώ ερωτικό πόθο» or «εξάπτω τις ερωτικές επιθυμίες» or, simply, «ερεθίζω». Likewise, Pavlos Matesis, in his novel Παντα καλά (Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, Athens, 1998, p. 110), would write this of a youngish lady:

«Ώρμησε, πρόλαβε και του άναψε το τσιγάρο
που εκείνος είχε βγάλει. Να σε ανάψω. Το
βάζει στο στόμα της, το ανάβει, εκείνη δεν κάπνιζε,
του το μπήγει στο στόμα, σαλιωμένο και
κοκκινιστό με κραγιόν. Άναψα και θερμοσίφωνο.
Λέει και περιμένει».

BIC advertizing discourse in Greece in the 1970’s and 1980’s was what it was given the grassroots reality of the “sexual revolution” – it reflected the needs of the youthful popular masses, and it thus “provoked” those who themselves “provoked” one another. The phenomenon, of course, would ultimately spill through to the rest of the various age-groups. If BIC discourse contributed to the “making” of such a “revolution”, that selfsame popular “revolution” would “make” the BIC discourse be what it was.

But if the BIC discourse “provoked” the youthful provokers in Greece, and thus engaged in an ideological two-way dialectical intercourse with them, it would nonetheless not forget to bolster such ideological content with a positive material content in its particular version of the Greek advertizing discourse. If outside Greece the BIC company would also place an emphasis on the simplicity and easy-to-use nature of its products, it would not underestimate the Greek people by dwelling exclusively on their new-found “sexual instincts”. In other words, if outside Greece it promoted its products as those that were “just what’s necessary”, in Greece we would have the concomitant «και απλουστεύει τη ζωή».

The BIC advertizing discourse in Greece was therefore not “interventionist”, in that it fully recognized the new, “modern” sexual habits of Greek youth, and thus did not land onto the Greek cultural terrain as an outsider questioning people if perhaps they still lived in the year 1900. To the extent that it was “provocative”, it did not insult either Greek youth or the national identity of Greek people as a whole (it rather complemented, especially Greek youth identity). There was therefore no “culture-bias” as was evident in the “PHILISHAVE” discourse. Further, and again unlike the Philips company, it did not simply ignore their given shaving habits, by presenting them with an electrical gadget which was alien both to the prevailing psyche of the popular masses and to the existing material conditions of such masses. Both in terms of ideological content and functional material content, the BIC discourse overlapped with and complemented the Greek socio-cultural conditions of the period. The “PHILISHAVE” advertisement was to fail on both these criteria, and would thus be generally ignored, and it thus represents an excellent example of how the “imperialism” of a giant would be checked by grassroots practices.

All this is not meant to suggest that the BIC products themselves were universally accepted by the Greek consumer of the 1970’s, and it is not meant to suggest that certain sections of the Greek population were not to be shocked or unnerved by slogans such as «ΑΝΑΒΕΙ» (as they would also be shocked by the “sexual revolution” itself). Firstly, dissent regarding such “sexually provocative” advertizing would automatically be expressed by “Left-wing” feminist activists who, while always in the minority (the “Amalia-type” would simply ignore them), would be especially vociferous. Their position would be expressed by texts such as the following in the 1970’s:

«Σεξουαλική επανάσταση. Μία έκφραση που
ακούγεται συνέχεια. Και κανείς δεν θ’ αμφισβητήσει
ότι είναι μία πραγματικότητα. Επειδή λοιπόν
υπάρχει αυτή η κατάσταση και αποτελεί ένα
πρόβλημα για τον κόσμο, ο,τιδήποτε έχει σχέση
με το σεξ τραβάει την προσοχή του και τα ΜΜΕ
εκμεταλλευόμενα την περίπτωση παρέχουν αφειδώς
το θέμα… Πώς το παρέχουν; Πορνογραφικά. Άλλοτε
με προφάσεις, άλλοτε ξεκάθαρα… Όταν η γυναίκα
θεωρείται σαν αντικείμενο ηδονής, είναι φυσικό
και οι σχέσεις που συνάπτονται με ένα υποτελή να
μην είναι ικανοποιητικές… [etc.]»
(cf. Δημοκρατική Ένωση Νέων Γυναικών,
 Η γυναίκα & τα Μέσα Μαζικής Ενημέρωσης,
Πύλη, Athens, 1979, pp. 42-43).

That, of course, was the received wisdom of the feminist “Left”, usually couched in a self-defeating logic: for instance, while accepting that the “sexual revolution” was an undeniable reality, this reality was a “problem” for the people, and since it was a “problem”, it attracted their attention, something which the mass media would exploit. For the feminists, people created their own “problem” and did so in a way which attracted them. While such logic must have surely confused the rest of the population, it nonetheless overlapped – in a dramatically paradoxical manner – with the attitudes of conservative puritans and “traditionalists”. But this would not mean that such categories of the population – feminists included – would not ultimately find themselves using the BIC products, be it a razor, a lighter or a pen. If in the 1970’s the BIC disposable razor was not universally adopted for shaving purposes, this was not at all due to the “sexually unethical” advertizing discourse which accompanied it. At least in the “periphery”, there was a category of males who would stick to the traditional habit of either visiting their barber or shave themselves using a barber’s razor, and that was simply indicative of the naturally uneven spread of “modernizing” practices in personal care: given personal and geographic circumstances, some could simply not keep up with the waves of renewal inundating such personal care practices. In 1977, a resident of the Boeotian village of Domvraina, on being presented with a BIC disposable razor, would boorishly ask in his Albanian dialect: «Τσί γιά άει; » (“What’s this?”). And yet, the man was both a “communist” and had spent long spans of time at Salonika working in the construction sector. His response had nothing to do with the “sexual unethicality” of BIC advertizing discourse – in fact, this rural resident had no ethical qualms about the fact that both his daughter and his son-in-law (themselves “communist”) were to become avid readers of Playboy). On the other hand, this rural-based quarryman and construction worker would have been literally infuriated by any idea that he happened to belong to the year 1900, which was what the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement was suggesting.

Unlike the “imperial” Philips advertizing discourse used specifically for the Greek case, that of BIC was essentially determined by its cut-throat competition with Gillette over throw-away pens and shavers: it was above all such competition which would force it to respect the socio-cultural context of Greeks, and thus avoid the “interventionist” insults of the “PHILISHAVE” discourse aimed at “civilizing” Greek “savages” (in the case of the Philips company, its market-share of diverse products had already been firmly carved out on an international basis). Interestingly, it would be in Greece itself that BIC products would be manufactured both for the local and the international market (the BIC factory would be located in the Theban industrial zone and would employ 120 workers in the 1980’s; it manufactured «Αναπτήρες–Καλσόν–Λεπίδες» – cf. «ΕΙΣΗΓΗΣΗ ΤΟΥ ΕΡΓΑΤΙΚΟΥ ΚΕΝΤΡΟΥ ΘΗΒΑΣ ΣΤΟ ΠΕΡΙΦΕΡΕΙΑΚΟ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΟ ΓΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΑΝΑΠΤΥΞΗ», undated/circa 1986). That it was the BIC-versus-Gillette competition which overdetermined the content of discourse of BIC products is further verified by the fact that BIC advertizing discourse focused on a “provocation” – apart from the “sexual” – which allowed consumers the freedom to pick and choose the best throw-away products they desired: its discourse openly compared the BIC razor to that of Gillette, and which would cause the latter to protest. While here too the BIC company would be violating the «Κώδικα» of ΕΔΕΕ, which prohibited all such provocative comparisons, it would again get away with murder since such openly “democratic” comparing of products could only advantage the consumer. Generally then, the BIC advertizing discourse would be as responsive to the needs of the Greek youthful popular masses as would the Philips advertizing discourse be responsive to the sensitivities of the American consumer.

As regards the “PHILISHAVE” advertisement itself, there remains just one further question: why is it that the “provocative-interventionism” of the Philips company discourse would be adhered to at the time despite its very limited acceptance within the Greek market? Apart from what has already been argued above, we may also make the following final observations:

  • While its advertizing discourse was meant to address itself to the popular masses as a whole, it really could only attract – as it did – the economic and intellectual élites of the country in the early-1960’s. The Philips company would of course see this happening but would nonetheless pursue promotional policy reminiscent of Pocock’s “risk-factor” (op. cit.). We may presume that it was initially merely experimenting with the realities of the Greek market. Further, and perhaps more importantly, both the price and the exclusivity of a product such as “PHILISHAVE” would render it a “luxury” object meant to intentionally bolster the image of the Greek élites in the early-1960’s (these, of course, would not have lived in the year 1900). As to the tight relationship between élite social status and the electric shaver at the time, we simply quote here a text published in Mesimvrini (29.1.1966, p. 7), which certainly highlights such relationship in its own way – it read as follows: «Οπωσδήποτε, οι Ευρωπαίοι απολαμβάνουν μαζί με τους Αμερικανούς αυτές τις καινοτομίες, όπως … ζεστό νερό και την πρίζα για ξυριστική μηχανή στο λουτρό του ξενοδοχείου τους…».
  • But in any case, the “marketing mix” of any Philips product was such as to assert its dominant long-term presence in the Greek market: the ubiquitous familiarity of the Philips brand would ultimately expand the catchment area of whatever product related to such brand. And the expansion of such area would inevitably happen with the rise of the middle class milieu, some elements of which would themselves gradually adopt the “PHILISHAVE” product (or developed variants of it) at some later stage.
  • Related to the above, we know that the Philips company could always depend on the sheer diversity of its products (above all its array of electrical house appliances) so as to secure an ever-widening catchment area among the Greek popular masses. Given such manufacturing and marketing infrastructure, the company certainly possessed the economic base and security on which it could play its risky, experimental games.
  • And yet, in the last instance, we know that the Philips giant, and despite all its overreaching power, would not be able to communicate its personal care products to the Greek popular masses unless it adjusted its discourse in a manner that spoke the language of these masses. As already mentioned, the Philips company would, by the mid-1960’s and on, turn to the all-Greek «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ» to help it expand its market for shaving products to the wider masses. As regards the ideology of advertizing discourse, therefore, it would be the Philips company that would bend to grassroots realities. Such a step, on the part of the Philips company, further confirms the relative social power of the “Amalia-type” as consumer.

……………………………

We may now proceed with our next examination of an advertizing discourse which appeared in 1960’s Greece and which was characterized by “provocative-interventionism” in a field which, as alluded to above, one would least expect to find whatever form of “interventionism”, let alone any cultural “provocation” – this field was of course that of Greek food consumption. On the other hand, and as we shall see, such “provocative- interventionism” did actually respond to some material reality of the early-1960’s: the particular form of such response, however, may be taken to be typical of a “paternalistic” giant conglomerate. In 1964, the Quaker Oats company would place the following advertisement in the periodical Romantso (and which would be representative of just one dimension of its 1960’s discourse):

«ΚΟΥΑΚΕΡ…
ΣΤΙΣ ΠΙΟ ΑΝΕΠΤΥΓΜΕΝΕΣ ΧΩΡΕΣ,
ΤΟ ΠΡΟΓΕΥΜΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΑΝΤΑ
ΚΟΥΑΚΕΡ…
Ξεκινώντας το πρωί νηστικοί
υπονομεύετε την υγεία σας…»
(cf. Ρομάντσο, τεύχ. 1104,
28.4.1964).

The Quaker Oats company had been formally established at the turn of the 20th century and thus, when its food products – using corn as its basic ingredient for all its commodities – were to enter the Greek market, it had already been in operation at a global level for well over six decades. Thus, this Chicago-based food conglomerate was yet another classical giant prone to a discourse of “imperialism”. More specifically, it usually equated the taking of a Quaker Oats breakfast to the eating habits of the “authentic” all-American family (it even sponsored full-length films to that effect) and would wish to transplant the “model” of such family – and its concomitant values and habits – to the rest of the world. Ultimately, the Quaker Oats family of brands would come to be owned by PepsiCo, itself perhaps an “imperialist” symbol of the American way of life (though, as we shall see in discussing Coca-Cola below, whatever references to an all-powerful “cultural imperialism” are a definite over-simplification).

Now, as regards Greece, the introduction of Quaker Oats products to the country was to take a very special form, and which did indirectly make an appeal – perhaps “manipulatively” so – to the persisting national consciousness of the popular masses. We see here a paradoxical case whereby an ideologically-laden all-American product would be launched within Greece by making use of certain popular symbols of the Greek people, such symbols amounting to the popular ideological “pride” of being Greek (a “pride” which had also stemmed from the nation’s stance against the Nazis). What had happened? We here need to consider the case of the legendary Greek immigrant to America, with the assumed name of “Jim Londos”. This man would become a very popular wrestler in the USA of the 1920’s and 1930’s, taking the American public by storm – his fame would filter through back to his fatherland and would translate into a symbol of national pride. Naturally, the health and strength of this champion fighter had been put down to his eating habits and especially to his consumption of Quakers in the morning. Sources pertaining to the life of “Jim Londos” have this to say about his eating habits and how this would help the Quaker products to enter the Greek scene – we read:

«[O “Τζιμ Λόντος”] … συνήθιζε να τρώει
κουάκερ, δηλαδή νιφάδες βρώμης και ήταν
αυτός η αιτία που άρχισαν να γίνονται οι
εισαγωγές αυτού του προϊόντος στην Ελλάδα»
(cf. Νεώτερον Εγκυκλοπαιδικόν Λεξικόν
 Ηλίου, vol. 12th, p. 532; as also http://
mathainoumeellinikiistoria.blogspot.gr).

We cannot pinpoint the exact period of time in which Quaker Oats was to become popular amongst the Greek popular masses, and especially so amongst kids (we do know, however, that oatmeal would be distributed to children in the 1940’s by the «Κέντρον Διανομής Γάλακτος» – cf., for instance, Πελοπόννησος, 11.7.1948, p. 3). But we can say that at least in the early-1960’s the legend of the American-Greek “Jim Londos” would be alive and well and living in the hearts of the Greek people. We know that Aliartian kids of the early-1960’s saw “Jim Londos” as a popular hero who had conquered the world in wrestling championships, and who had shown the Americans, amongst others, what a Greek could achieve. Many would keep pictures of him, usually from cuts-outs of popular magazines and newspapers. Their parents – especially fathers – would relate stories about him, often grossly exaggerating the facts. Naturally, if “Jim Londos” really chose Quaker Oats for his breakfast, Greek kids, whether at Aliarto or the Athens suburb of Kokkino Mylo, would wish to emulate him (many felt they would soon take his place). We do not know the exact extent to which the products of Quaker Oats had actually caught on at a place such as Aliarto at the time – many Aliartian children would still be eating a watered slice of bread with a coat of sugar (and perhaps sometimes cocoa) on it. Yet still, the Quaker Oats company was gradually preparing for its catchment area by “manipulating” the “Jim Londos” legend in a manner which is reminiscent of the techniques used at the time to promote products indirectly by simply naming them in what was supposed to be informative articles (cf. our discussion above with reference to the use of «ΠΑΤΡΟΝ» to promote a fashion-house; or the promotion of records through articles informing teenagers about the latest news regarding music trends). In a similar manner, then, the simple mentioning in whatever newspaper or magazine article of the fact that “Jim Londos” ate Quakers for breakfast – and we know such mentioning happened based on what is implied by the Λεξικόν Ηλίου – would have had an effect on readers which could possibly have been much stronger than that of any advertisement, given the supposedly factual element. With time, this supposed fact would be imprinted in the minds of Greeks, and while the legend of “Jim Londos” would fade, the brand-name would not (and that, given the rise of consumer power and the Greek emphasis on the need to eat well, as has been discussed above).

To further understand what Quaker Oats had really been doing in its attempt to indirectly promote its products in Greece by relating these to “Jim Londos”, we need to look at the matter a bit more closely. Firstly, it was implying that the success of the Greek wrestler was what it was given his ultimate “Americanization” – i.e. his adoption of American values, one such “value” being that he would consume Quakers just as all proper American families would. Secondly, and by extension, his success had been a result of the fact that he had joined in the rhythms of a highly “developed” society as was the grand USA. The implication, thirdly, was that if Greeks also wanted to “succeed”, they too would have to do the exact same thing, and which was to emulate, not only “Jim Londos”, but the ways and habits of the prototypes of US “development”.

Such incipient ideological discourse, which had tried to hook the popular impulse of “Greek pride” onto the need to imitate the habits of “developed” countries, was to raise its head by the 1960’s as an overt advertizing slogan. Thereby, it would be effecting an open “intervention” with respect to the content of Greek national eating habits (and the grassroots “localist” consciousness that went with it), and it would be “provoking”, in the sense of insulting, the Greek way of life and the rhythms of so-called “progress” which would inevitably express it at that particular time. Consider here the words of the 1964 Romantso advertisement”: «ΣΤΙΣ ΠΙΟ ΑΝΕΠΤΥΓΜΕΝΕΣ ΧΩΡΕΣ, ΤΟ ΠΡΟΓΕΥΜΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΑΝΤΑ ΚΟΥΑΚΕΡ». Such term – «ΠΙΟ ΑΝΕΠΤΥΓΜΕΝΕΣ» – would be completing the dotted lines of a general ideological narrative that went like this:

  • You possibly think you live in the year 1900 – if so, we bear “gifts” meant to “civilize” you as a people (“PHILISHAVE”);
  • Your «παλιός καιρός», however much you may insist on it, is to be fully rejected. And further, since it is you who are responsible for it, you and your “anachronisms” are to be rejected, unless you come to accept the demands of “our epoch” («ΚΑΜΕΛΙΑ»);
  • Only those who come to yield to our modern epoch deserve to belong to that special category of people called «σύγχρονους ανθρώπους» (“MELTEX”);
  • Such “modern people” belong to countries more developed than your own – such people belonging to such more developed countries necessarily («ΠΑΝΤΑ») eat Quakers;
  • Look up to such countries, follow their example when it comes to having breakfast: imitate such countries and you will gradually arrive at their “model” of society. Such “model” is the penultimate “telos” of the whole of human history (as August Comte would of course put it – cf. Raymond Aron’s excellent essay on Comte, in his H εξέλιξη της κοινωνιολογικής σκέψης, Εκδόσεις Γνώση, vol. 1, 3rd edition, Athens, 1994, pp. 105-197).

We may assume that the creators of the 1964 Quaker Oats advertizing discourse for Greece had no knowledge of the thought of August Comte. But the latter, who was the 19th century ‘theologian’ of industrial progress as the “telos” of all of humanity, had had an important influence on 20th century positivist social thinking in the so-called “West”. For instance, and above all, the American W.W. Rostow would himself be a sort of ‘theologian’ for the US model of industrial development, presenting such development as the inevitable and penultimate stage of growth for any industrializing country in the world. His thought, which appeared and became popular in 1962 (with his famous book, The Stages of Economic Growth, Cambridge Univ. Press), was merely a representative articulation of the ‘common wisdom’ of most American intellectuals. As importantly, it broadly expressed the dominant policy and ideology of the US status quo in the 1950’s and 1960’s. We do not mean to suggest that all US corporations necessarily toed the line of either Rostow or of the US establishment, but it would certainly be of interest to compare the 1964 Quaker Oats discourse – «ΣΤΙΣ ΠΙΟ ΑΝΕΠΤΥΓΜΕΝΕΣ ΧΩΡΕΣ, ΤΟ ΠΡΟΓΕΥΜΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΑΝΤΑ ΚΟΥΑΚΕΡ» – with that of the 1962 Rostow theoretical discourse. We may here consider how Nikos Mouzelis presents the Rostow position on “development” – and which importantly went hand-in-hand with cultural development – in his book with the telling title Κοινοβουλευτισμός και εκβιομηχάνιση στην ημι-περιφέρεια (Θεμέλιο, Athens, 1987). Presenting the Rostowian position as the most spherical expression of the «νέο-εξελικτική θέση», Mouzelis writes:

 

«Πράγματι η νεο-εξελικτική παράδοση έχει
την τάση να θεωρεί τον “εκσυγχρονισμό” σαν
μια ευθύγραμμη διαδικασία που επηρεάζει
με ομοιόμορφο τρόπο την οικονομική,
πολιτική και πολιτιστική σφαίρα. Η προσέγγιση
αυτή παίρνει ως δεδομένο ότι καθώς η δυτική
τεχνολογία και κουλτούρα διαχέονται στον
υπόλοιπο κόσμο, οι “αναπτυσσόμενες” ή
“εκσυγχρονιζόμενες” κοινωνίες ανεβαίνουν
βαθμιαία την εξελικτική κλίμακα και ομοιάζουν
όλο και περισσότερο με τις δυτικές κοινωνίες
ως προς την οικονομία, την πολιτική και την
κουλτούρα τους. Απ’ αυτή βέβαια τη σκοπιά,
εκβιομηχάνιση και εξαστισμός, πολιτικός και
πολιτιστικός εκσυγχρονισμός, όλα συμβαδίζουν»
(p. 33).

Mouzelis’ critical assessment of the 1962 Rostow theoretical discourse (a discourse which by the way would have been endorsed by Marx, whose thinking was itself characterized by an evolutionist stage-by-stage “teleology” – and cf. also Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, op. cit., p. 126) allows us to explain the “provocative-interventionism” of the 1964 Quaker Oats advertizing discourse as follows:

  • All forms of “modernization” and “industrialization” – i.e. whatever “progress” – can only but follow the unilinear stages of economic growth leading to the US model;
  • This can only but mean a related “cultural progress” or a “cultural development” reminiscent of that of the USA;
  • This would necessarily mean, inter alia, “culturally developed” eating-habits;
  • This would mean that all Greeks, as they get up in the morning to go to school or work, must necessarily have their breakfast of Quaker Oats (try remember, the subsurface advertizing discourse would urge, the story of your own “Jim Londos”, who was in fact not really yours but ours).

As we can see here, academic theory and commercial practice do not at all make bad or strange bed-fellows: the economic theory of a Rostow and the advertizing practices of the Quaker Oats company must surely have here been indulging in some act of reproduction, however consciously or not. The match-maker, of course, was the well-read advertizing sector. But how well had such sector actually “read” the Greek popular masses at the time? To the extent that it could create advertizing discourse which “provoked” and “intervened”, its “reading” of the Greek people was that of an arrogant “emperor”. But that only tells us half the story.

The other half is given to us by what follows in the selfsame 1964 Quaker Oats advertizing discourse for the Greek population: «Ξεκινώντας το πρωί νηστικοί υπονομεύετε την υγεία σας». The Quaker Oats company had always presented itself to the Greek consumer as the epitome of “balanced” eating habits – its discourse has been specifically retrospective, continually reminding Greeks of the relationship between the consumption of the Quaker products in Greece and their long-term contribution to the health of the body – throughout the 20th century and even through to the early-21st, the Quaker Oats company would assert:

«Στην Ελλάδα, αγαπήσαμε τα Quaker από την
πρώτη στιγμή και συνδέουμε το όνομά τους
με την ισορροπημένη διατροφή»
(cf. www.quakeroats.com).

As regards the question of eating and health, both the 1964 advertizing discourse and the quote presented above suggest a concerned “paternalism” on the part of the Quaker Oats company addressed to the bodily health of the Greek population. But such “paternalism” in the 1960’s would hinge on a definite reality regarding the nutrition and health of the Greek popular masses. Thus, the Quaker Oats advertizing discourse in the 1960’s would combine – as so often happened in this type of advertizing discourse – a negative “provocative- interventionism” together with a positive material content which directed itself to an inescapable reality of the period. We have already said a few things about poverty in 1960’s Greece in examining the historical context («σκελετωμένα παιδιά», etc.) – here, we may add a few remarks as regards the issue of health, and to which the Quaker Oats advertizing discourse would duly respond.

We know that the decades of the 1940’s, 1950’s and at least the early-1960’s were a period of time when the popular masses would be threatened by what had then been called the «ασθένειες των φτωχών» (cf., inter alia, www.tovima.gr/culture). Bronchitis, tuberculosis and especially the malarial germ around the area of Aliarto would all be a lurking danger for the poor. All such health risks would be directly related to the question of nutrition and the realities of malnutrition. And it would be precisely for this reason that the Quaker Oats advertisement in 1964 would warn of empty stomachs and how that constituted an «υπονόμευση της υγείας σας».

To give us some picture of such health problems, we may make use here of the ‘Douridas Archives’ at our disposal (as we know, the «Ν.Γ. ΔΟΥΡΙΔΑΣ Α.Ε.» was an important textile mill in the Pyri area of Thiva, and which had employed hundreds of people residing in the villages of Boeotia). As late as 1983, the «ΝΟΜΑΡΧΙΑ ΒΟΙΩΤΙΑΣ» (and specifically the «Αντιδήμαρχος Θήβας») would send an official letter to the «Υπουργό Υγείας και Προνοίας» in Athens addressing the serious threats to health around the factory area. What is of special interest, of course, is that such health risks would continue right through to the early-1980’s, and which allows us to only imagine what conditions must have been like in the 1960’s – we read:

«Κύριε Υπουργέ,
… μετά από επιτόπια έρευνα διαπίστωσα τα
πάρα κάτω, τα οποία και θέτω υπόψη σας:
1/ Είναι, πράγματι, άθλιες οι συνθήκες κάτω
απ’ τις οποίες εργάζονται οι εργάτες στην
Κλωστοϋφαντουργία Ν. ΔΟΥΡΙΔΑ. Καμμιά μέριμνα
για την προστασία της υγείας τους δεν έχει παρθεί
απ’ τη διεύθυνση του εργοστασίου. Συνέπεια
αυτής της απαράδεκτης κατάστασης να
παρουσιαστεί το πρώτο κρούσμα τύφου βαρειάς
μορφής σε εργαζόμενο, με κίνδυνο να μολυνθούν
και άλλα άτομα, που θα μπορούν να μεταδώσουν
την αρρώστεια και στα μέλη της οικογένειάς τους.-
2/ Τα λύμματα του εργοστασίου απορρίπτονται
όπως βολεύει την επιχείρηση στη γύρω περιοχή,
με αποτέλεσμα ο περιβάλλων το εργοστάσιο
χώρος να έχει μεταβληθεί σε ένα τέλμα με
αναθυμιάσεις επικίνδυνες για την υγεία των
εργαζομένων και των κατοίκων της πολυάνθρωπης
περιοχής του οικισμού Πυρί της πόλις μας. Διότι
το εργοστάσιο, δυστυχώς, βρίσκεται μέσα στην
πυκνοκατοικημένη αυτή περιοχή. Επί πλέον
μολύνεται σε μεγάλη απόσταση και ο κάμπος της
Θήβας…» (cf. «ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ,
ΝΟΜΑΡΧΙΑ ΒΟΙΩΤΙΑΣ, ΔΗΜΟΣ ΘΗΒΑΙΩΝ, ΑΡΙΘ.
ΠΡΩΤ. 1254 [?]», 17.3.1983).

The purpose of quoting this text is definitely not to assess the work conditions of the Dourida factory at the time (and which would be outside our present field of interest): whatever assessment, to the extent that it involves the issue of health amongst Boeotians, would have to take into consideration the fact that the owners of the company, the Douridas brothers, were, at the time, fighting a losing battle against the competition they had to face vis-à-vis EOK giant corporations, ultimately rendering their own local Greek company “problematic” and which had to finally close down. And further, whatever assessment would have to keep in mind that the author of the above text represented the so-called “Left”-ΠΑΣΟΚ attack on all private capital at the time, and thus the approach to the Dourida management could only have been rather biased. But what is of interest here is the sheer reality of health conditions in the area as a whole, whatever be their actual causes. Further, the text does clearly point to the prevailing concern over the question of health and disease, and which would prevail throughout Greek society following the whole of the post-war period – the point is that it was to such real prevailing sentiment that the Quaker Oats advertizing discourse would be ‘talking’ to.

To further emphasize such prevailing popular sentiment of fear over the threat of disease, and which dated back to the 1940’s, we may here quote Pavlos Matesis, whose novel, Η μητέρα του σκύλου (op. cit.), focused on the years of the Nazi occupation and dealt with the scourge of phthisis both in its tragic and in its comico-tragic nuances – clearly indicating the extent to which the threat of such disease or its actual spread had entered the everyday lives of people, he writes:

«Ο Φάνης μας πήγε σπίτι τους μόνο μία
φορά, για ένα θέλημα, και η Αφροδίτη
τον έδιωξε, μη μπαίνεις μέσα του λέει,
έχω την ασθένεια. Τότε ασθένεια λέγανε
τη φθίση, πολύ της μόδας ασθένεια, και
στα μυθιστορήματα την έβαζαν, όποια
νέα την παρατούσε ο καλός της, πάντα
πάθαινε φθίση» (p. 47).

But if it be true that it was to such real context that the Quaker Oats company would be ‘talking’ to, it would be doing so according to its own hidden (though not at all ‘conspiratorial’) ideological agenda, such agenda being permeated with the arrogant “paternalism” of an “imperialistic” US conglomerate. As we have seen, the advertizing discourse targeting the Greek popular masses placed an exclusive emphasis on salvaging or reinvigorating “the Greek body” per se. For the Quaker Oats discourse addressed to Greeks, it was all a matter of moving in “stages” in the strictly Rostowian sense: first the Greeks would have to deal with their “physical” problems (those of animal survival, so to speak) and only later would they be able to develop themselves “mentally” or “spiritually”, as was already happening with certain other people – i.e. the US citizens above all – who had achieved a definite level of economic development allowing them to indulge in a “cultural progress” which “undeveloped” peoples like the Greeks were not as yet capable of mastering. To show how this “supremacist” ideology actually did function in the discourse of Quaker Oats, we may compare advertizing meant for Greeks with that meant for Americans. We have already seen how the Greek Quaker Oats advertisement quoted above would voice its deep concern over the question of the «υπονόμευση της υγείας σας». We may now contrast this to a number of Quaker Oats commercials meant specifically for the US market, and to do this we may consider four basic advertizing slogans starting from the year 1900 and going through to the 1960’s – these Quaker Oats advertizing slogans were the following:

  • 1900: “Quaker Oats: FOR BRAIN AND BRAWN”.
  • 1940’s-1950’s: “QUAKER OATS HELPS GROW STARS OF THE FUTURE”.
  • 1960: specifically as regards American kids, Quaker Oats “keeps the mind bright and alert”; or it makes kids be “bright and alert for class work”.
  • 1960’s decade: “You’ll soon see: THEY DO MUCH BETTER ON QUAKER” (depicting a fit and healthy teenager vaulting over a gym horse).

Put together, the ideological narrative of such a discourse – spanning a period of about seventy years – could be summarized as follows: Quaker Oats cares for both the muscular strength of American kids as also for their mental strength. It is the combination of these two attributes which yields the leaders (or the “stars”) of the future. As regards mental strength, the consumption of Quaker Oats helps the young American mind to be bright and alert in its years of educational training, thus preparing kids for their proper place in the world. But no one can be worthy of a leadership position unless one trains his body as well, and this can only be achieved through systematic gym exercising, itself facilitated through the consumption of Quaker Oats.

We notice that in the case of these US advertising slogans, the issue is not a mere question of helping “the body” to survive as such – it is rather the need to reach maximum mental and physical perfection so as to reach the status of a “star”. Now, one of course understands that objective material conditions in the USA were completely different from those of the war-torn Greek case. On the other hand, it was a subjective political choice, both on the part of the US establishment, and of Rostow, as also of the Quaker Oats company, to assume that a country such as an “undeveloped” Greece had to necessarily follow the evolutionary stages of “growth” that America itself had to go through, and that Greeks were therefore obliged to stick to a stage-by-stage cultural “program” which would ultimately usher them into the “American Dream” (this was never to actually happen). When the 1964 Quaker Oats advertizing discourse for Greece would omit whatever references to “mental” development, it would do so precisely because it assumed the Greeks were not yet ‘ready’ for such luxuries. And yet, the popular cultural practices of the Greek population, despite the war and the poverty, were as vibrant and rich as were those of any people (including the Americans). We know this was so for a couple of reasons: specifically as regards their eating-habits, Greeks would stick to their traditional cuisine, consciously resist foreign “manufactured” foods over a period of time, and when the time would come for them to adopt foreign cuisines, these would be adopted in a manner that involved an assimilation of whatever foreign by maintaining a delicate balance between their “Greekness” and their proclivity for the foreign. We shall shortly come back to their initial – though not merely momentary – resistance to foreign cuisines, but before we do so we need to briefly consider what all this means regarding the positive material content itself – spoken of above – of the 1964 Greek Quaker Oats advertisement.

If it be true that the Quaker Oats advertizing discourse contained a positive material content which addressed itself to a real problem, that same positive content was informed, as we have seen, by an ideologically biased paradigm. The case of the Quaker Oats discourse, therefore, further complicates matters with regard to any distinction that one may wish to make between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ content in advertizing discourse. But the complexity of this case is simply indicative of the fact that advertizing discourse as a whole cannot be reduced to either intentions of “manipulation” or to the neutral wish to inform. The Quaker Oats case clearly shows that material needs can be presented in a manner that serves ideological perspectives, whereby the Quaker Oats products for Greeks are not to ‘function’ in a manner meant for Americans. This discrimination of functions was of course not evident to the Greek popular masses, unless these had access to US versions of the Quaker Oats advertisement (which was highly unlikely), and which would have allowed them to engage in a comparison of sorts (something which few if any would have bothered to undertake).  We may say that, in the last instance, it would all come down to an ideological-cum-cultural struggle (most probably unconscious or semi-conscious) between the “Amalia-type” and the Greek Quaker Oat discourse as to what constitutes positive reality. That the Quaker Oats discourse ignored the matter of the Greek “BRAIN” (let alone the “BRAWN”) in the 1960’s would certainly not have stopped Amalia Eleftheriadou from furthering her own education, which she did and which was her own reality. That she stopped short of finishing senior high school because she had to go and work was also part of her reality, but that reality was obviously not a consequence of whatever advertizing discourse. Thus, the “Amalia-type” would view the ideologically-laden positive material content of the Quaker Oats discourse in a manner which would denude it of its so-called hidden ideological agenda.

This could suggest that the “Amalia-type” would be engaged in a mere passive response (that of simply ignoring) as regards the real truth of the Quaker Oats advertisement. To some extent, this is what actually happened. But we have spoken here (as also in discussing the case of Greek eating habits of, say, the Aliartian Chrysa Kyriakati) of an ideological-cum-cultural struggle between the Greek popular masses and the influx of the foreign cuisine. We may add here a number of remarks pertaining to the more active or perhaps even more conscious resistance of the Greek popular masses with respect to their gradual bombardment with non-Greek foods. It is really impossible to fully understand the initial reception of the Quaker Oats products by the Greek popular masses without considering what we have already called the dominant “universality” of the Greek traditional cuisine. Such “universality” would have its very deep historical roots. According to an excellent text written by Aikaterini Kamilaki in To Vima (cf. www.tovima.gr – most data that follow are drawn from this source, dated 24.12.2000), Greek eating habits were so deeply steeped in historical tradition that these could only but have made Greeks highly resistant to foreign products such as the all-American Quaker Oats. Greek eating habits were a convergence of traditions between the Eastern Byzantine tradition (originating from Asia Minor and Constantinople, and which would have an impact on the rest of Greeks after the 1920’s Asia Minor crisis) and the «λιτοδίαιτο» or «λιτή κουζίνα» of mainland Greece, and which itself dated back to ancient times. This formidable combination of the Byzantine cuisine with that of the ancient Attica cuisine would mean an as formidable insistence on given eating habits and thus a resistance to whatever non-traditional. Kamilaki entitles her text as follows:

«Το ψωμοτύρι, το λιτοδίαιτον της φυλής,
 οι αντιστάσεις των διατροφικών συνηθειών,
η ανακάλυψη της τοπικής κουζίνας»
(my emph.).

With reference to the period 1930-1960, she observes:

«… οι Έλληνες εκδηλώνουν εξαιρετικά μεγάλη
 συντηρητικότητα στα θέματα της διατροφής,
η οποία μάλιστα φθάνει στα όρια της
 αντιδραστικότητας» (my emph.).

Two important observations need to be made here: firstly, to the extent that the Greek popular masses were fighting to “conserve” their popular traditions and identity in the face of the “imperialism” of an “interventionist” US cultural policy pertaining to eating habits, their «συντηρητικότητα» would in fact be ‘revolutionary’ (in a loose sense, and certainly not in the dogmatic Greek “Left” sense): as in the case of the 1960’s and 1970’s African national liberation struggles – where blacks were struggling to salvage their history and identity in the face of a “supremacist” colonialism – so here too, Greeks would be doing more or less the exact same thing, though in a rather different context (it will not do to reduce colonialism to different forms of imperialism, etc.). Secondly, we note Kamilaki’s use of the term «αντιδραστικότητα», which of course suggests an active, perhaps quite conscious resistance to non-traditional foods – and which was not, therefore, simply a case of a negative passive refusal to consider foreign food-products, but rather that of a positive and conscious confirmation of their given traditional cuisine. The term “reactionary”, therefore, needs to be radically freed of the received wisdom of “Left-wing” demagoguery.

Kamilaki further goes on to point out that in the rural areas and at least up to 1970, traditional eating habits would continue to persist. This would happen despite the general trend towards modernization and the rise in consumer power. Indicative of such a situation is that the Greek popular lexicon would continue to include phrases such as the following:

«Ψωμί κι ελιά…»
«Ψωμοτύρι».
«Ψωμί με ψωμί».

Importantly, according to Kamilaki, eating habits which persisted in the rural areas would also do so in the urban areas in the first decades following the war. This would be especially so amongst the urban working people, and Kamilaki supports this by pointing to the well-known fact that the majority of urban dwellers at the time were in fact rural migrants with «παγιωμένες διατροφικές συνήθειες». Thus, the “Amalia-type”, stuck in-between a rural and a semi-urban area such as Aliarto, would certainly have stuck to a traditional meal.

Kamilaki, finally, tries to explain the “reaction” of the Greek popular masses to the foreign cuisine by focusing, not only on the formidable effect of a cultural tradition combining the Eastern Byzantine with the ancient Attica eating habits, but also focuses on the purely economic realities of the Greek social formation – as she writes:

«Σε μια κοινωνία όπως είναι η παραδοσιακή
αγροτική κοινωνία πριν από το 1960, με
περιορισμένες οικονομικές σχέσεις, η
κατανάλωση αγαθών περιορίζεται κυρίως
στην αυτάρκεια και στην ανταλλαγή.
Ελάχιστα επηρεάζεται από το εμπόριο και
τα διακινούμενα εμπορικά είδη».

Within such an economic context, it is difficult to see how a product such as Quaker Oats could have at all infiltrated the rural “periphery” of Greece prior to 1960. But what is of greater interest here is that it was not only – or not primarily – the economic reality that was truly determinant as regards Greek eating habits. Even as Greece in toto was to enter the market economy following the war, it would still be socio-cultural factors which would continue to determine the “reactionary” behaviour of the Greek popular masses to foreign eating habits: as Kamilaki has pointed out, the persistence on traditional eating habits would continue at least up to 1970.

On the other hand, eating habits in the decades following the war could not possibly have been absolutely static: there was certainly a gradual encroachment of the foreign cuisine – the circulation of the 1964 Quaker Oats advertisement testifies to this – and it is precisely such encroachment which constituted the terrain of cultural struggle we are speaking of. Yet another source examining the changing eating habits of Greeks places greater emphasis on such encroachment – according to a text entitled «Η διατροφή στην Ελλάδα» (cf. http://www.bestrong.org.gr, 28.3.2014), we read:

«Από τη δεκαετία του 1960 και εξής,
σημειώθηκαν στην Ελλάδα ταχύτατες
μεταβολές, οι οποίες άλλαξαν ριζικά
την εικόνα των διατροφικών αλλαγών
στη χώρα».

We may end our discussion of the 1964 Quaker Oats advertisement by summarizing our position as follows:

  • The overtly “provocative-interventionist” discourse of this advertisement, which took the form of asking Greeks to imitate set stages of “cultural development”, would not have spoken to the “Amalia-type”: social engineering, and especially any cultural surgical engineering, could only have found itself operating in a superficially manufactured social vacuum – both Skinner (the question of “conditioning”) and Rostow (the question of “imitation”) saw all of reality in one-dimensional terms, as did Adorno and company.  Amalia Eleftheriadou’s epoch, which was one of innocent hope and gradually materializing aspirations, was a self-determining historical course moving according to its own relative autonomy. Yes, the time would come when the “Amalia-type” (and especially the offspring of such “type”), would take to thoroughly enjoying their Oats breakfast – but that would be a ‘time’ belonging to and created by that “type” (and which be the “type” belonging to the Greek middle class milieu). On the other hand, the Quaker Oats company had the luxury, the patience, and the expertise to wait for such ‘time’ of such “type”. That much is true.
  • The concern of the Quaker Oats discourse for the health of the Greek population, as also for the latter’s fight against disease, could have attracted the attention of the “Amalia-type” and especially that of the Greek parent of the 1960’s. And that, quite despite the hidden ideological agenda of the Quaker Oats discourse, something which would largely have been ignored by the Greek consumer. Still, the initially limited economic capacities of the Greek popular masses would, in the early-1960’s, have made Quaker Oats a “luxury” for their kids. But people would jump to the opportunity of buying such healthily nourishing product for their children when they would attain the economic capacity to do so. They would do this for real reasons and not at all in response to whatever Quaker Oats promotional discourse (unless such discourse limited itself to the purely ‘informational’ function).
  • Yet still, the Greek popular masses would not easily yield to advertizing discourse which doubted the “universality” of the Greek traditional cuisine – if there was one element which truly linked the Quaker Oats products to the Greek cuisine, it was that both included the use of corn as a basic ingredient, and Greeks would come to a gradual realization of that fact, and especially so when their family budget would allow them to come to such a realization. This would of course finally bridge the gap between the US and the Greek eating traditions.
  • The bridging of such gap would mean that the Greek popular masses would ultimately come to accept the Quaker Oats diet, but that would constitute an assimilation of such foreign diet to the Greek traditional cuisine. This would mean the maintenance of some “balance” within the socio-cultural practices (and therefore the eating practices) of the Greek popular masses. This “balance” would be the natural creation of the Greek popular masses themselves, and it would be effected in the face of the inherent “imbalances” inscribed in the discourse of advertisements such as that of the 1964 Quaker Oats advertisement.

……………………………………

The Quaker Oats advertizing campaign of the 1960’s would mean that the importation of a utility product (food may be taken to be a “utility commodity”) into Greece would directly or indirectly be accompanied by an attempted importation of the ideology of the American way of life. We would, however, also have important cases of advertizing discourse which would attempt to sell the “American Dream” as such. In this case, the “product” was that “Dream”. This could take a variety of forms, but in most cases this would mean an attempt to promote the American way of life through the articulation of what we shall call “cultural brand names”. One such “cultural brand name” in the 1960’s was the case of Frank Sinatra. A consideration of such case, however, would show up the complexity of the issue which has been dubbed “US cultural imperialism”.

On May 8, 1962, the newspaper Kathimerini would publish the following “announcement”-cum-advertisement:

«ΩΔΕΙΟΝ ΗΡΩΔΟΥ ΑΤΤΙΚΟΥ
… ΔΥΟ ΜΟΝΑΔΙΚΑΙ ΠΑΡΑΣΤΑΣΕΙΣ
ΤΟΥ ΦΡΑΝΚ ΣΙΝΑΤΡΑ… ΥΠΕΡ
ΤΟΥ ΝΟΣΟΚΟΜΕΙΟΥ ΠΑΙΔΩΝ “ΑΓΙΑ
ΣΟΦΙΑ” ΚΑΙ ΤΩΝ ΠΑΙΔΙΚΩΝ ΣΤΑΘΜΩΝ
ΤΟΥ ΔΗΜΟΥ ΑΘΗΝΑΙΩΝ…
ΑΜΦΟΤΕΡΑΙ ΑΙ ΠΑΡΑΣΤΑΣΕΙΣ ΤΕΛΟΥΝ
ΥΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΥΨΗΛΗΝ ΠΡΟΣΤΑΣΙΑΝ
ΤΗΣ Α.Μ. ΤΗΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΙΣΣΗΣ» (their emph.).

We shall examine this text for two basic reasons: firstly, it constitutes a sample of a 1960’s “announcement” which, while apparently being a mere neutral-sounding statement of a coming “factual event”, it is nonetheless laden with a deep, ideological content – as such, it actually “advertises” such ideological content (and we know that in the period of the 1960’s, many products and services were themselves promoted through factual-sounding articles – op. cit.). Secondly, and much more importantly, this Kathimerini text raises the issue of so-called “US cultural imperialism” (the “American Dream” as a “product” in itself), and the discussion of this phenomenon could serve as a framework for the further understanding of all “provocative-interventionist” advertizing discourse (such as that of the Quaker Oats company).

We may begin with a number of simple preliminary observations. One may say that the “Amalia-type” could probably have received such message of US-originating aid and solidarity with a measure of ambiguity. But further, Amalia Eleftheriadou would most probably have seen Frank Sinatra on the Aliartian cinema screen, or heard his songs on the radio, and she could have been deeply touched by both image and song – this definitely applied to millions of especially young people of various socio-economic backgrounds around the “Western world”. On the other hand, the «ΩΔΕΙΟΝ», the «ΠΡΟΣΤΑΣΙΑ» of the Greek Queen, etc., would be a world foreign to Amalia’s own everyday life. We may even speak here of two “parallel lives”: that of the Greek “élites” and that of a working youth (the “Amalia-type” and its male counterparts) gradually forging its own individual and collective identity.

But the question of ambiguity needs to be explained. It would be an over-simplification to suppose that the Greek popular masses simply rejected US material aid – such as the building of a new branch of the hospital «ΑΓΙΑ ΣΟΦΙΑ» or of an Athens nursery – due to their “anti-Americanism”. The latter cannot be taken for granted and itself needs to be understood in terms of the specific forms which it took (or did not). Further, while the «ΩΔΕΙΟΝ» and the social world which surrounded it did constitute the world of the “élite”, it will not do to suppose that the “parallel lives” we have spoken of were completely insulated unto themselves: the phenomenon of Frank Sinatra cut across all class and culture lines.

One could simply go around all such rather uncomfortable problems and as simply assert – as do so many contemporary commentators – of the veritable gate-crashing of the Greek socio-cultural context by the all-powerful forces of the “American way of life”. Just one such sample of the poverty of over-simplification is represented by the following quote:

«Η πληθυσμιακή έκρηξη μεγαλώνει την
αγορά. Καταλύτης η αμερικάνικη βοήθεια
και το “Σχέδιο Μάρσαλ” ανοίγουν το δρόμο
για την “Ανασυγκρότηση”, και μαζί, το
έδαφος για την εισβολή των αμερικάνικων
προϊόντων – και του αμερικάνικου τρόπου
ζωής» (cf. “diafimisi” – http://diafimisi.
wikispaces.com., op. cit., p. 1).

There is some ‘truth’ in such an approach, but it is a one-sided truth which blots out what really happened in Greece in the post-war years as regards the popular masses and the “Amalia-type”. We need to re-examine the impact of the Kathimerini text, and the event it announces to the Greek public, almost from scratch –and we say ‘almost’, because some hard research work has been done in trying to understand the role of US “cultural imperialism” in the Greek context, and which for many such context had been characterized by a Greek “anti-Americanism”. Interestingly, of course, a major paradox has escaped many contemporary analysts: how be it possible that the “American way of life” would come to dominate the Greek people when such people are themselves said to have been dominated by a rampant “anti-Americanism”? The contradiction is a glaring one – we shall try to resolve it by examining the role of what we have called US “cultural brand names” and the inevitable ‘constraints’ which delimited them.

Specifically as regards the Sinatra concerts in 1962 Greece, we need to begin at the beginning. The Sinatra concerts in Athens, which took place on May 18-19, had been preceded by a series of negotiations between Sinatra himself and Theodoros Kritas, who acted as ‘go-between’. Sinatra had insisted that he sing at the «ΩΔΕΙΟΝ ΗΡΩΔΟΥ ΑΤΤΙΚΟΥ», a place then only meant for classical theatre companies, and Kritas had pointed this out to Sinatra. The latter, most probably so as to fulfill his own personal ambitions, had offered to provide all the gate money from his two concerts for philanthropic purposes, so long as he was allowed to sing at that «ΩΔΕΙΟΝ». We can already begin to suspect some tinge of all-American arrogance here: Sinatra presumed he had the power (which he in fact did) to both override Greek formal traditions and at the same time pose as “philanthropist” to the poor Greek people, something in line with the ideology which had accompanied The Marshall Plan (cf. Barry Machado, In search of a usable past: The Marshall Plan and Postwar Reconstruction Today, George Marshall Foundation, 2007). Kritas himself, in an article published in To Vima (cf. http://www.tovima.gr, 17.5.1998), had this to say of what had preceded Sinatra’s coming to Athens:

«[Ο Σινάτρα]… ήταν πρόθυμος να διαθέσει
όλες τις εισπράξεις και από τις δύο συναυλίες
για φιλανθρωπικούς  σκοπούς… Μετέφερα
την πρόταση του Σινάτρα στον δήμαρχο της
Αθήνας Άγγελο Τσουκαλά και στον πρόεδρο
του Νοσοκομείου Παίδων “Αγία Σοφία” Σπύρο
Δοξιάδη. Τους πρότεινα να ανελάμβαναν να
εξασφαλίσουν το Ηρώδειο για τις συναυλίες του
Σινάτρα και σε αντιπαροχή θα έπαιρναν τις
εισπράξεις. Έτσι κι έγινε. Εξασφάλισαν την άδεια
για την παραχώρηση του Ηρώδειου, τις δε μισές
εισπράξεις ο δήμαρχος τις διέθεσε για να κτισθεί
ένας παιδικός σταθμός, τις άλλες δε μισές ο
Δοξιάδης για μια καινούργια πτέρυγα στο
νοσοκομείο “Αγία Σοφία”…».

We dwell on this series of events because these encapsulate the real paradoxes of the issue of “US cultural imperialism” and which must have provoked the “thought and attention” of the Greek popular masses and especially that of the young “Amalia-type”. The paradoxes involved constituted a cluster of tangible contradictions all of which intertwined within themselves and which need to be carefully unraveled if we are to grasp the mind of the “Amalia-type”. The latter would inevitably be beset with a number of understandably mixed feelings – for instance, the young Aliartian lady would have asked herself:

  • What are the limits to such all-powerful arrogance which gives this American the right to violate the formal traditions of a nation, such “nation” presumably possessing the sole authority over the usage of what belongs to its ancient heritage, i.e. the usage of the emblematic «ΩΔΕΙΟΝ ΗΡΩΔΟΥ ΑΤΤΙΚΟΥ»? Such willful violation has never happened before to us: yes, the Germans flew their Nazi flag at the Parthenon, but they only did this with machine guns at hand.
  • How is it possible that these Americans – a naïve and barbaric people devoid of history and tradition – actually buy their way into our ancient monuments and use them as they wish? To hell with these arrogant, materialistic bastards.
  • But surely the building of an all-new branch of «Αγία Σοφία» is of a definite benefit to the people of Greece? All of us Boeotians have no choice but rush to Athens hospitals when we fall sick – this American shows concern for our real, everyday problems, and especially as regards the health and welfare of Greek kids.
  • And listen to this great singer’s beautiful voice! He can easily be compared to our own great Kazantzidis – in fact, rumour has it that Sinatra and Kazantzidis have been secretly communicating with one another. And the American, it is said, looks up to the magic voice of our own Greek singer, and asks for his advice on singing techniques. Well, he can’t be that arrogant, surely.
  • And listen to those Sinatra lyrics – although I can hardly understand most of what he says, he seems to be singing directly for me. Thank heavens that Domino and Vendeta and those other magazines take the trouble to translate foreign lyrics into Greek. Sinatra’s songs make me feel proud of my youth and feminine beauty. They are so full of promise and passion.
  • And yet, I’d never be able to pass the gates of the «ΗΡΩΔΕΙΟ»: I have neither the time nor the money. “Our” Queen, of course, shall be there, but who cares for the hypocrisies of “high society”. I care about me.
  • I don’t really trust the Americans and I don’t much trust the Queen. But I do trust my transistor and I shall enjoy my Sinatra popular melodies.

These would be the mixed feelings and thoughts of the “Amalia-type” as regards the Sinatra concert. Although not at all couched in the real language of such “type”, such questions as we have enumerated them do give us some idea of the type of mentality and sentiment one would expect of a young, fairly well-educated working lady of the 1960’s. It is true, firstly, that the use of the «ΗΡΩΔΕΙΟ» by a pop singer (as was Sinatra) had as yet been unheard of (one in any case sees this from the tit-for-tat bargaining that had to go on between Sinatra himself and Kritas). Secondly, most Greeks would have been unnerved by the miracles that the all-powerful dollar could work (as we shall further see below, many Greeks would see the dollar as a “symbol of evil”). Thirdly, and in contrast to all this, most Greeks would certainly have appreciated whatever economic aid, there being the urgent need for the actual re-construction of their country. Fourthly, and as regards the supposed Kazantzidis-Sinatra relationship, fabricated truths or mere rumours were being spread by the Greek press – and perhaps this was happening at the time so as to help “build bridges” between Greeks and Americans. But maybe such bridges were not really needed because, fifthly, masses of people in Greece had already identified themselves with the popular lyrics of the Sinatra songs. And finally, people had already “placed” Sinatra in their everyday cultural “space”, not by listening to him sing in places such as the «ΗΡΩΔΕΙΟ», but through their own radio (or through records) at home or wherever they happened to socialize. Before we embark on an analysis of this contradictory state of affairs, it would be of some interest to dwell briefly on a few extra observations regarding the Sinatra concerts as such.

Sinatra’s presence in Greece had stirred up a whole lot of noise in the Greek press: there were reports on how he had wanted and managed to have a whole hotel complex to himself, how he had met and socialized with Greek Royalty, and so on. The two concerts had themselves created a certain atmosphere in Athens and thereabouts: Sinatra’s voice, it was said, was actually heard even in the area of Piraeus itself (although this too may have been yet another press-instigated rumour). Importantly, the concerts were part of a wider Sinatra project to help the peoples of post-war Europe, and their “philanthropic” intention had been made clear by the manner in which they had been promoted across Europe – they had constituted the “All (of) God’s Children Tour” (cf., inter alia, https://www.setlist.fm). This had been related to the so-called “Spirit of Sinatra” (perhaps reminiscent of the all-American, Coca-Cola-created Santa Claus, itself a benign “Spirit”): it was such “Spirit” which was the agent of a series of benefit shows for the Greek war relief project. Following the May 1962 concerts, Frank Sinatra was to receive the ‘Gold Key’ of the City of Athens, something which could be interpreted as a quasi-political act. It would perhaps be of some interest to note here, as does To Vima (op. cit.), that the “services” of such “Spirit” would, by 1985, be fully acknowledged by the US Administration – as the newspaper wrote in 1998:

«Το 1985 του απονεμήθηκε το Μετάλλιο
της Ελευθερίας από τον τότε πρόεδρο και
φίλο του Ρόναλντ Ρίγκαν».

It is also of interest to note that, in the course of the 1962 concert at the «ΗΡΩΔΕΙΟ», Sinatra would at some point blurt out the following little ‘admonition’ (but which must surely be interpreted as some sort of all-American ‘joke’):

«Τόσα χρήματα πήρατε από το Σχέδιο
Μάρσαλ και αφήσατε το θέατρο σ’ αυτά
τα χάλια!» (cf. To Vima, op.cit.).

The Sinatra remark was most probably a cute way of remarking on the ancient (as opposed to “modern”) grandeur of the place. But he was at the same time reminding Greeks of how much “modern” America had been a benefactor of the Greek people (and which would of course include his own “philanthropic” gesture towards Greek children). Very indirectly, he might also have been pointing to the state of Greek material conditions at the time («σ’ αυτά τα χάλια»). In any case, the “Spirit of Sinatra” style is here somewhat reminiscent of a paternalistic arrogance meted out to underlings in need of the “provocative- interventionism” one detected in certain advertizing discourse (the joke itself was of course “provocative” in its sub-surface semantics). Sinatra could both acknowledge the glorious ancient heritage of Greeks and at the same time remind them of how only “the power of the dollar” could guarantee the reconstruction of their country as a whole (and which suggested an inevitable “intervention”).

It is important to remember that while all this was happening at the «ΗΡΩΔΕΙΟ», the “Spirit of Sinatra” – and especially what we shall call the “cultural brand name” of Sinatra as global US “star” – was hovering all over the country at the time (both preceding, and during and well after the concerts of 1962). We know that at the same time as the concerts were happening, the Greek people were also receiving an all-round bombardment of Sinatra films. For instance, it was in 1962 that the Western Comedy “Sergeants 3”, and which starred Sinatra, was on at the cinemas (its Greek title being «Οι 3 Λοχίες»). It was also in 1962 that Greeks watched “The Manchurian Candidate”, again starring Sinatra. Of course, both the “Sinatra Spirit” and the Sinatra “star” as a “cultural brand name” were hovering, not only all over Greece, but over the whole globe (at least as regards the “developed” or “developing” world). And it was explicitly that very “globalism” of Frank Sinatra that was “sold” to the Greek popular masses. The promoters of Sinatra films in Greece would assume – and perhaps rightly so – that Greeks would not want to be ‘left out’ from the general trends of the “modern world”, something which would have definitely applied to Greek youth across most social strata. We may observe such “globalist” orientation (to be discussed in some more detail further below) in the following advertizing discourse promoting a Sinatra film comedy in 1966 – and which ran as follows:

«Όλη η Υφήλιος γελάει…
με την τελευταία ΥΠΕΡ-ΕΥΘΥΜΗ
ΔΗΜΙΟΥΡΓΙΑ
της
ΓΟΥΩΡΝΕΡ ΜΠΡΟΣ (WB)
“ΠΩΣ ΝΑ ΠΕΤΥΧΕΤΕ
→… ΣΤΟΝ ΔΕΥΤΕΡΟ ΓΑΜΟ ΣΑΣ
→… ΜΕ ΤΗΝ ΠΡΩΤΗ ΣΑΣ ΓΥΝΑΙΚΑ
*MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS*
ΕΓΧΡΩΜΟΝ – ΠΑΝΑΒΙΖΙΟΝ
ΠΑΡΑΓΩΓΗΣ 1965-1966
Το ΠΩΣ…;
Θα σας το πουν
ο ΦΡΑΝΚ ΣΙΝΑΤΡΑ… [etc.]»
(cf. newspaper cutting, circa 1966,
name of paper unknown).

While, as we have suggested, the promoters of this Sinatra film aimed at tapping the proclivities of the Greek masses for the “modern-global”, the degree of their success as promoters and discourse-creators would be delimited by a number of factors which they would unconsciously ignore, and which relates to the complex issue of “US cultural imperialism” and its relevant effectivity. While the film itself could have been enjoyed by the Greek cinema audiences, this would be so despite – not because of – the particular promotional discourse. We may here simply consider a couple of aspects of the advertisement. Firstly, it assumes that the American sense of humour («ΥΠΕΡ-ΕΥΘΥΜΗ») was a necessary expression of “global humour” («Όλη η Υφήλιος γελάει»), and which itself supposedly ‘spoke’ to the specifically Greek popular sense of the comical. No serious research work has been undertaken on the post-war Greek taste pertaining to humour – but if one simply peruses through the popular publications of the period, one realizes that humorous texts and cartoons mainly (though not exclusively) commented on themes sprouting from the Geek context: these would address themes such as the advent of young foreign tourists in Greece; the clash between traditional and modern habits; the new sexual consciousness, etc.). Secondly, the advertisement focuses (as does the film itself) on the ways and idiosyncrasies of the American marriage relationship, and assumes that Greeks’ experience of marriage and divorce could be reduced to that of the American way of doing things. We shall have to come back to a discussion of this particular Sinatra film, but one can already sense the cultural tension that could have characterized whatever attempt was being made to reduce the “American way of life” (or the “global” style) to the realities of marriage in 1960’s Greece.

And yet, it was just such “provocative-interventionism” that hovered over the 1960’s Greek cultural context, and which allows us to speak of the phenomenon of “brand-building” as regards US “stars” such as Frank Sinatra. More specifically, it allows us to speak of Frank Sinatra the “star” as a “cultural brand” and which may be seen as one important aspect of US “cultural brand-building” at the time and with specific repercussions on that Greek cultural context. Generally as regards the concept of “brand-building”, we may note that such process was never the exclusive child of some mastermind conspiratorially operating behind the backs of the public – we may simply remind ourselves here of what had happened to the “Philips” brand in America itself (op. cit. re. “Philishave”), where we had a clear case of brand destruction, and which meant both a de-branding and a re-branding of all Philips products in the USA, given the ‘patriotism’ of at least some American consumers. In the case of Sinatra as “cultural brand” operating in Greece, we shall see that there was no need for any brand destruction as such (at least for some period of time), and that for the simple reason that the “Amalia-type” – which was busy “building” itself as the new middle class milieu – was able to shape the Sinatra “brand’ in its very own terms. If, in other words, Frank Sinatra was being manufactured as a “cultural brand name” for, inter alia, the “Amalia-type”, the latter was re-manufacturing such “brand” in its own consciousness in a manner which suited the needs and tastes of its milieu.

But such ultimate re-manufacturing on the part of the “Amalia-type” was not to be much evident in the manner in which the Sinatra image was being promoted by popular publications in the 1960’s and 1970’s, where we would have a particularly “imperialistically provocative-interventionism” in the discourse of such promotion (though here too there would be, as we shall see, serious internal contradictions within Greek political discourse pertaining to US “cultural brands”). As in other cases discussed above, the Sinatra “brand name” was most often promoted, not through specifically designated advertisements as such, but through factual texts reporting on the lives of American “stars”, thus supposedly achieving a maximum communicative effectivity of awe amongst the readers of popular publications. In 1965, for instance, the periodical Vendeta would present Sinatra as an almost other-worldly “star” belonging to the “royalty” of Hollywood – its article on Sinatra and the other select few would be entitled as follows:

«Οι 10 “Βασιλείς του ΧΟΛΛΥΓΟΥΝΤ”…»
(cf. τεύχ. 6ον, 18.6.1965, p. 42).

If Greeks had their “own” Royal Family, there were at the same time those other “stars” of a “Royal Family” reigning at a global level from their Hollywoodian palaces and meant to define the cultural tastes of the rest of the world. We know, of course, that such other-worldly all-American “Royalty” would ultimately itself have to bend to the changing tastes of youth culture, and which by the early-1970’s would lead to a relative peripheralization of the Sinatra “cultural brand”. Thus, the process of brand destruction (or, as we shall more accurately name it ‘brand fatigue’ below) would gradually come to apply to the case of Sinatra as well, especially at a global level. But in any case the “myth” of Sinatra, manufactured in the 1960’s in Greece, would continue to feverishly reproduce itself at the time. One reason for this was the material success of Frank Sinatra himself, which would obviously appeal to the materialistic culture of the Greek up-and-coming middle class milieu. To the extent that Sinatra represented the “American Dream”, this would undergo an extrapolation whereby the Greek middle class milieu would set for itself the task of materializing its own “Greek Dream”. The “Amalia-type” could only but empathize with the great ‘rags-to-riches’ Sinatra story. Thereby, the “provocative-interventionism” of whatever “US cultural imperialism” would be re-translated in its own, Greek terms, and thus turn the Sinatra “brand name” on its head. In 1965, the periodical Domino film would perpetuate what it called «Ο μύθος του Σινάτρα», and would perpetuate such myth by emphasizing the man’s almost limitless material power:

«… όταν θυμώνει αγοράζει…
ουρανοξύστες»
(cf. τεύχ. 389, 7.8.1965, p. 23).

Such mythical material power would have made as little sense to the “Amalia-type” as would the labyrinthine power of a giant such as the Philips company. But, as mentioned, Amalia Eleftheriadou and the middle class milieu which she embryonically expressed, would naturally have appreciated the fact that someone as poor and ‘insignificant’ as was herself could actually move up the social ladder of wealth and stardom. This was a myth closely attached to the Sinatra “cultural brand name” – and yet, it was a myth which bore its seeds of social truth. We know that very many Greek film stars and singers had themselves started off as real have-nots and were able to finally reach the pinnacle of stardom and wealth (Kazantzidis being just one such case). Newspapers and periodicals in the 1960’s would hammer away at this Sinatra ‘rags-to-riches’ myth, it being a concomitant part of a “cultural market idea” which subsumed within itself both a positive material content (the wish for and possibility of social success) and a negative ideological content (provocative “US cultural imperialism”). We present here just one sample promoting such myth of a ‘rags-to-riches’ millionaire “star”, and which was published in the daily Akropolis in 1965:

«ΜΙΣΟΣ ΑΙΩΝ ΖΩΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΘΡΙΑΜΒΩΝ…
Πριν από πενήντα ακριβώς χρόνια, στις
13 Δεκεμβρίου του 1915, στην μικρή τότε
πολίχνη Χόμποκεν, στις όχθες του ποταμού
Χιούστον, γεννιόταν ένα μικροσκοπικό
αγόρι. Ο πατέρας του ήταν Σικελός και η
μητέρα του μία χωρική της περιοχής,
πάμπτωχοι και σχεδόν αγροίκοι, που ελάχιστη
προσοχή και φροντίδα έδειξαν για το νέο
παιδί που απέκτησαν, ένα ακόμη αριθμό
στην μία δωδεκάδα που είχαν ήδη τότε…
Το φτωχό εκείνο Σικελόπουλο που γεννήθηκε
χωρίς μοίρα στον ήλιο στις όχθες ενός αμερικανικού
ποταμού, σήμερα είναι ένας από τους
λαμπρότερους και πιο πλούσιους καλλιτέχνες των
Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών και τ’ όνομά του είναι
γνωστό σε κάθε γωνιά της Οικουμένης. Γιατί
πρόκειται απλούστατα, για τον Φρανκ Σινάτρα»
(cf. Akropolis, 15.12.1965, p. 2).

This myth of «Φράνκυ», albeit promoted through a discourse of “provocative- interventionism”, would definitely have ‘spoken’ to the imagination of the “Amalia-type”. And yet that which ‘spoke’ was a “US cultural brand name” which would ultimately culminate in one mighty brand of brands, i.e. the “Frank Sinatra Enterprises”. It was precisely that aspect of the Sinatra “cultural brand” – i.e. that it constituted an American cultural export – which would yield a negative ideological content in the whole promotional campaign surrounding Sinatra the “star”. As a cultural export, the “brand” was definitely expressive of what has been called “US cultural imperialism”. And Frank Sinatra had been a representative of such “cultural imperialism” because both as singer and as actor he had come to embody the “All-American Boy” carrying the ideological values of the “All-American way of life”. It has been suggested that even his globally popular songs were part and parcel of “All-American music”. And one may go even further and suggest that the specific form of “entertainment” which the Sinatra shows offered were themselves immersed in American pro-capitalist ideological content, and which would have to lead us to a re-evaluation of what we have said above regarding the new sense or new wave of post-war entertainment in Greece (cf. our discussion of Panselinos, Papanoutsos, etc., above). In fact, one could even point to Sinatra’s famous 1969 song, “My Way”, and suggest that the lyrics of such discourse were merely promoting private enterprise and therefore “capitalism”. Ultimately, such argumentation would continue, the Sinatra-induced style of “entertainment” would be a propagandistic “interventionism” in the lives of a people who had displayed strong signs of collective action through the popular ranks of ΕΑΜ-ΕΛΑΣ, and whose destiny was not to “do it” in their own “individual way” but rather to establish a “popular democracy” in their own country.

Such an approach, which has of course belonged to the Greek “Left”, secretes an orrery of confusions. To begin with, any suggestion of a successful US “intervention” in the way Greeks entertained themselves does not explain how such “imperialist interventionism” was able to simply “dissolve” the as yet quite recent ΕΑΜ-ΕΛΑΣ experience of collectivism. But much more importantly, it cannot reconcile the fact that, while large sections of the Greek popular masses had endorsed the Sinatra songs, they would nonetheless continue to maintain strong anti-American sentiments.

Now, the mere fact that the Greek popular masses would persist in such sentiments clearly suggests that the manner in which they ‘received’ and “lived” the Sinatra “cultural brand name” was not at all in the manner expected of them by whatever political/propagandistic intentions on the part of the US establishment. What the “Left” would fail to understand was that the Greek people would adapt their love for Sinatra songs to their own life-experiences and to their own popular consciousness, and which was a consciousness of impulsive sentiments against, inter alia, certain things American. This would check or redefine whatever intended policies of US “imperialistic interventionism”.

But such popular impulsive sentiments, much to the chagrin of the “Left”, would have little to do with Party theoretical dogmas and whatever strictly political systems of thought of the ΕΔΑ-type “intellectual”. If there was any anti-American sentiment in the consciousness of the “Amalia-type” – as there was – this had little to do with whatever “-ism”. The “Amalia-type” consciousness, for instance, would not be characterized by any dogmatic aversion to the function of American multinational corporations in Greece: its thinking would not be informed by any concern for the tax-evasion of such companies or by the manner in which these would “exploit” the “proletariat”. What concerned the “Amalia-type”, as also the rest of the working people of Boeotia, was the basic question of landing a job – or otherwise abandoning everything for, above all, America itself (mass immigration to the USA).

And yet, this essentially apolitical” popular anti-American impulse was such as to neutralize whatever “US cultural imperialism” was embedded in the Sinatra “cultural brand”. Such neutralization would be clearly verified by events in the 1980’s, and which would show that “brands” such as that of Frank Sinatra had done nothing to peripheralize or check Greek anti-American feelings. Of course, by the 1980’s, such popular sentiments would be expressed via the Party Political System (especially but not exclusively through ΠΑΣΟΚ), but this would only be due to the ‘weakness’ of Greek civil society and the veritable domination of the Party System. Giannis Boulgaris has analyzed this in some detail – inter alia, he writes:

«Από την πρώτη φάση της Μεταπολίτευσης είχε
γίνει σαφές ότι τα κόμματα θα αποτελούσαν τους
πρωταγωνιστές της Δημοκρατίας που γεννιόταν.
Η διαπίστωση μπορεί να γίνει πιο κατηγορηματική:
 η πολιτική αντιπροσώπευση της κοινωνίας θα
 μονοπωλούνταν από τα κόμματα … η κοινωνία των
πολιτών ήταν αδύναμη»
(cf. Γιάννης Βούλγαρης, Η Ελλάδα της
 Μεταπολίτευσης,Θεμέλιο, 2001, pp. 43-44,
his emph.).

What had happened by the 1980’s period was that the Party Political System had usurped a pre-existing social sentiment of anti-Americanism which was not strictly “political” (or “party political”) per se: such sentiment would characterize the majority of the popular masses whether these belonged to the “Left”, the “Right”, the “Centre”, or somewhere in between all three such ‘poles’ (for anti-American feelings amongst the popular “Right”, cf. Boulgaris, op. cit., p. 221, where he refers to such anti-American «δημόσιο αίσθημα» permeating that of the so-called «συντηρητικής κοινής γνώμης»).

One needs to fully understand the very specific sense in which the Greek popular masses would nurture an “apolitical” anti-Americanism which would allow them to both relish the lyrics of a Sinatra song (or the taste of Quaker Oats) and at the same time not allow themselves to be “alienated” by the Sinatra “cultural brand” of the 1960’s and 1970’s, or fall victim to some “All-American style of life”. And this would further allow us to come to some understanding of how the “Amalia-type” would relate and respond to the “provocative- interventionism” of promotional/advertizing discourse as a whole.

What was that content of grassroots consciousness amongst vast sections of the Greek popular masses which would allow them to both listen to Sinatra and yet remain impervious to whatever elements of an “imperialistically”-inclined “provocative-interventionism”? We know that such a pertinent question cannot be answered unless one undertakes hard research work in the field of social history or social anthropology, and in Greece the discipline of any historical sociology itself remains underdeveloped. And yet, Zinovia Lialiouti, in her study, “Anti-Americanism in Greece (1947-1967): Criticizing the American way of life” (cf. www.Ise.ac.uk, 2007) presents us with an excellent description (not, however, an analysis) of such anti-American grassroots consciousness. Based on a variety of primary sources (the press of the period), she tries to delineate such consciousness in a manner which verifies that the anti-Americanism in Greeks was a cultural impulse, not a political ideology, let alone a theory, and which therefore allows us to subsume such impulse under the rubric of the “Amalia-type” consciousness.

Lialiouti’s research work allows her to draw a number of conclusions which underline the complexity and internally contradictory nature of such Greek grassroots consciousness – some of her basic observations include the following:

  • She writes: “There is, of course, admiration and envy for the ‘American dream’, but distrust remains” (p. 3, my emph.). We have already mentioned the materialistic culture of the Greek middle class milieu, and which would explain this “admiration” and “envy”. And yet, this would not mean that the “Amalia-type” would blindly and unilaterally slide into the so-called “one-dimensional” model (Marcuse et al) of the “American way of life”. Lialiouti’s primary sources show that Greek popular consciousness would, when all was said and done, “distrust” such way of life. As interesting, Lialiouti’s examination of the Greek press at the time, with its various ideological orientations, shows that such “distrust” applied to both the “Left” and the “Right”, as also the “Centre”. Such “distrust”, therefore, was not informed by a particular political ideology, it being a rampant feeling rooted in the socio-cultural practices of the Greek social formation.
  • The Greek popular masses, Lialiouti finds, actually looked down on the Americans as a mass of people devoid of history. She writes: “The Greeks view this lack of [New World] history as some sort of cultural inferiority” (p. 4, my emph.). And she goes on to point out that Greeks would see Americans as “inferior” given their lack of any long-standing (or ancient) American tradition. This is presumably an incredible point to make, but would be so only for an outsider: Greeks who lived the 1960’s and 1970’s in Greece know full well how much they would all scoff at the Americans as a people, or even as a savage people. We know that villagers at the Boeotian village of Domvraina, just by way of an example, would mock and deride Greek-Americans who came to Greece on holiday or who had simply decided to return for good to their motherland. All such people would be dubbed «χαζοαμερικάνοι», or «βουτυρομπεμπέδες», etc., by the natives. But it remains an incredible point if one contrasts this real, grassroots ego-boosted attitude to that of the “provocative- interventionism” and the “imperialist” haughtiness of advertizing discourse promoting products such as “MELTEX”, “KAMELIA”, “PHILISHAVE” or “QUAKER OATS”. We have seen that Greeks would resist the consumption of foreign foods given the established existence of a native cuisine rooted in socio-cultural practices which expressed a long-standing history and tradition (the Eastern Byzantine, the ancient Attican) – they could only but look down on food products devoid of such history and tradition, and thus stigmatized by what Lialiouti calls the “cultural inferiority” of Americans. And yet, multinational giants which insisted on promoting their products via a discourse of “provocative-interventionism” seemed to be unaware of such Greek grassroots sentiment (we know that ΕΔΕΕ would later try to correct precisely that). It is impossible to understand the role of so-called “US cultural imperialism” (or the Sinatra “cultural brand-building”) without also considering the inbred feeling of Greek “supremacy” vis-à-vis the “All-American way of life”. Put otherwise, it would be impossible to understand how the “Amalia-type” would relate to “provocative-interventionism” without keeping in mind that the “imperialist” arrogance of foreign giants would unknowingly be confronted by the assumed “cultural superiority” of native Greeks themselves. The latent clash between these two strains – that of certain foreign advertizing discourse and that of Greek popular sentiment – would be an inexorable reality: but there would be a tit-for-tat relationship between them (as we shall see in the case of the Sinatra “cultural brand” itself).
  • Closely related to the above, but going some steps further, Lialiouti finds that Greeks considered Americans as an “extremely naive” people, but who could at the same time be “cynical”, believing that the ends justify the means (p. 13). As regards the “naïveté” of the American personality, this could somehow relate to what Lialiouti has referred to as the deemed “cultural inferiority” of Americans and the poverty of their historical experience. Such presumed “naiveté” would often be stretched to the point of considering Americans as being inherently “stupid”. For many native Greeks, the Americans (their Presidents included) would be people who could hardly chew gum and walk at the same time – the latter joke was especially meant to describe Gerald Ford’s IQ, who became U.S. President in 1974.  On the other hand, the presumed “cynicism” of Americans – and which would be a cause of the “distrust” that Lialiouti has noted – was based on an understanding that Americans would do anything so as to achieve wealth and power. Greeks were aware of the rumour that even their beloved Sinatra had made it to the top through his associations with the Mafia world (his origins were in any case Sicilian). And all Greeks knew of the Watergate scandal and of American world politics (Vietnam included): whether belonging to the “Left” or the “Right”, Greeks would see the ‘corruption” of both American politicians and businessmen. Lialiouti’s examination of the Greek press, covering only the period up until 1967, nonetheless shows us that such Greek sentiments had prefigured those of the 1970’s and 1980’s and would cut right across all political ideologies. The question that naturally arises is the extent to which the “Amalia-type” would have been convinced by “provocative- interventionist” advertizing discourse created by such “naïve” fools and dangerous cynics. But the extent of her acceptance or non-acceptance of such discourse tells us little about whether she would choose to ultimately buy or not buy a packet of Quaker Oats.
  • Closely related to the issue of American “cynicism”, Lialiouti also observes that the vast majority of the Greek popular masses viewed the dollar as a “symbol of evil” (pp. 10-11). This all-pervading sentiment could only but have checked whatever effects might have been intended by advertisers who overtly emphasized the “Americanism” of the product being promoted (as in the case of Quaker Oats). As we shall see further below, the Greek popular masses would ‘denude’ the Sinatra “US cultural brand” of much of the American “evil” which it denoted and merely keep for themselves that part of the Sinatra cultural phenomenon which expressed them as Greeks, and especially as the young “romantic individual” type of Greek (cf. our paper on “Romanticism” as an ideology of the 1960’s).
  • American “evil” would also be related to the promotion of “criminality” by Hollywoodian films. Lialiouti summarizes her findings on this matter as follows: “Hollywood is considered to be one of the causes of criminality and both the press of the Centre and the press of the Left suggests that the government should forbid the import of these films… a journalist [of Avgi, 1956] describes a film with gangsters and Frank Sinatra starring: “on the screen … the wrecks of the American way of life…” [etc.]…”. (pp. 23-24). Generally, both the press and public sentiment were of the view that it is the “law of the jungle” which characterized the “American way of life” and that films such as those starring Sinatra were initiating Greek youth to a lifestyle of “gangsterism”. We know of course that the “Right” was itself against “gangsterism” and “teddyboyism” and the ΕΡΕ Government would pass the well-known and rather controversial Law 4000 against «Τεντιμποϊσμό» in 1958 (cf. quotes from Boeotian newspapers above). Now, to the extent that elements of “teddyboyism” were definitely evident amongst sections of Greek youth, could we say that the latter had themselves adopted “Americanism” as a way of life, and had thus fallen victim to variations of the Sinatra “cultural brand’? Nothing could be further from the truth. We may here briefly consider the Fanis character mentioned above (cf. N. Nikolaides, Ο οργισμένος Βαλκάνιος, op. cit.): if the “teddyboy” Fanis would adopt “The Wild One” as one of his heroes, he would do so, not because he had been “Americanized”, but because such symbol was against the US establishment itself, as it was against all establishments. As a Greek youth, the “teddyboy” Fanis was experimenting in ways which would help him to re-define his relationship to the State, and would be making use of symbols such as Marlon Brando, James Dean and Che Guevara, all of whom were distinctly anti-American establishment. And it is perhaps as important to stress that the “Fanis-type” was not at all a carbon-copy reproduction of his anti-American “Cool Hand Luke” symbols: the Greek youth had hardly any idea of what a supermarket looked like, which would set him apart from the anti-Americanism of “The Wild One” (Nikolaides, op. cit., p. 120), and he would always remain emotionally attached to his family, despite tensions, something which would again set him apart from “The Wild One” (Nikolaides, pp. 94, 180, etc.). In any case, if there was any one “type” of 1960’s Greek who would be radically opposed to the All-American “provocative-interventionism” of whatever advertizing discourse, that type would have been the “Fanis-type”. And if Greek popular sentiment would be anti-American because Hollywood glorified “gangsterism”, the “Fanis-type” would be as anti-American, though in his own way and for his own particular reasons, all of which were related to the post-war “youthful revolution” taking place both in the USA and Europe.
  • According to the Lialiouti research findings, Greek popular sentiment was anti-American because the “American way of life” was also considered to be “morally corrupting” (p. 18). It is such sentiment which is echoed in Matesis’ allegorical novel, Ο Παλαιός των Ημερών (Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, 1994), when he writes: «Είχε εντολή Θεού η κυρα-Μαλαβίτα να τιμωρεί την ασχημία. Και την ανησυχούσε αυτός ο Αμερικανός, ξάδερφός της αυτός, είχε να τον δει από έξι χρόνων αγοράκι, και τώρα είχε επιστρέψει άρρωστος από την Αμερική στο χωριό του, τη Βροντού, και δημιουργούσε ακολασία» (p. 76, my emph., and cf. also p. 91). Such way of life was perceived to be the cause of sexual immorality (the “sexual revolution”), of the generation gap, and of individualism (the latter phenomenon being especially emphasized by the “Left”). The point here is, not whether it was the “American way of life” which was or was not the objective cause behind such phenomena, but that Greek public opinion, in all its contradictory manifestations with respect to such phenomena, would place whatever ‘negative’ symptoms of such practices right at the doorstep of America itself. Apart from the Lialiouti findings, we may here also quote a 1966 text from Apogevmatini which related the “sexual revolution” to the Hollywood film industry (although its approach in this particular case was surprisingly quite mild) – it read as follows: «Ο ΚΙΝΗΜΑΤΟΓΡΑΦΟΣ … απεκάλυψε πρώτος το σεξ, σε όλη την λαμπρότητά του – αν επιτρέπεται η έκφρασης. Είναι περίεργο, αλήθεια, αλλά πρέπει να αναγνωρισθή ότι ο άνθρωπος έλαβε μέρος στην σεξουαλική επανάστασι μέσω της εικόνος. Στην συγκεκριμένη περίπτωσι που αναφέρομε, ο κινηματογράφος, ήταν εκείνος πού άνοιξε τα μάτια του κόσμου… Έτσι, λοιπόν, ο κινηματογράφος εδημιούρησε τις βασίλισσες του σεξ» (cf. Apogevmatini, 31.1.1966, p. 3). This would explain why Greeks were prone to relating “moral corruption” to images shown in Hollywoodian films and which would further boost their distrust of the “American way of life”. Now, as in the case of “criminality” discussed above, we may again raise the question as to whether those actively engaged in the Greek “sexual revolution” were victims of “Americanization” and “US cultural imperialism”. As in the case of “teddyboyism”, the “sexual revolution” was not at all a symptom of “Americanization” as such – quite the opposite: we need to remember that the phenomenon of “Woodstock”, for instance, represented an “alternative culture” (in the Raymond Williams sense) within the so-called “American way of life”. And further, the anti-Vietnam War movement constituted an “oppositional culture” directly questioning US “imperialist” policies. In fact, the problem with the concept of the “American way of life” is that it forgets that, at least as regards the 1960’s and 1970’s in America, there never was any one, monolithic “way of life”. Generally speaking, the American-style “sexual revolution” stood as an “alternative” to or was openly “opposed” to the US “imperialist culture brand-building” which was being exported to the rest of the world. Greek youth who were engaged in their own “sexual revolution” would pick and choose elements from the American, British or French “youth movements” and re-style these according to their own needs and pre-given cultural contexts: the cultural elements they assimilated were such as to supplement the picture of the anti-American sentiments of their parents, though the latter distrusted things American for their very own reasons and which were based on the “moral” sentiments as presented by Lialiouti. This generalized anti-Americanism of the Greek popular masses was therefore a grassroots ideology sub-divided within itself and which would yield the much-despised generation gap. And yet, as discussed above in examining the Greek middle class milieu, such culture gap between age-groups would gradually be bridged with the improvement of material conditions and the rise of a democratized consumerism. Greek 1960’s and 1970’s youth would sense that the new material conditions allowed them to re-define their relation to their body (the “sexual revolution”) and their relation to the State (the “teddyboy” culture) – as such they were the precursors of the Greek middle class milieu which would always remain “distrustful” (Lialiouti) of whatever “All-American” paradigms. The “Amalia-type” does not represent the extremes of so-called “sexual corruption” or of “teddyboy” reaction – but as a mean average “type”, Amalia Eleftheriadou was the spinal cord of “the new” and her sentiments regarding “All-American” paradigms would be of the type described by Lialiouti.
  • While, in the 1950’s and 1960’s the Greek older generations were anti-American in sentiment for ethico-cultural reasons, and while Greek youth were anti-American through the anti-establishment paradigms they were adopting, the Political Parties of the period were themselves anti-American specifically as regards their socio-cultural discourse. The “Left” would curse all things American because “Americanism” would be devoid of Marx (or of class consciousness); the “Right” would warn against “Americanism” as a style of life because such life would be devoid of the Christian Orthodox Christ (cf. J.F. Revel & M. McCarthy, Without Marx or Jesus, Paladin, London, 1972). The “Left” would not care less that “The Wild One” stood against the US status quo – Marlon Brando was not representative of the “proletarian” type. The “Right” would of course emphasize that the USA represented the “Free World” but would reject the immorality of Hollywood films, these running, as they did, against the ethics of the Greek Orthodox Church. On this point at least, the work of Lialiouti is excellent: she finds that both the “Left” and the “Right” were anti-American from one common position – that of a “moral conservatism” (p. 20), and which was a dogmatically-based “moralism” that had little to do either with the impulsive sentiments of the public in general or with the social experimentation of Greek youth. Alternatively, while such anti-American “moral conservatism” would not have appealed to the Greek youth, it could have appealed to the older generations, but unless one belonged to the hard core “Left” or “Right”, such an appeal would merely reproduce the impulsive anti-American sentiments of the older generations. With the advent of consumerism, even these older generations would gradually come to abandon most forms of either “Left” or “Right” “moral conservatism”, at times even outdoing even their own children. And yet, the anti-American sentiment would continue to thrive even through to the early-1980’s amongst both old and young, and which would determine the complex relationship between the Greek popular «nous» and whatever “provocative- interventionism” in advertizing discourse and in Sinatra-type “cultural brand-names”.

Specifically as regards the 1960’s Greek (pro-“Free World”) “Right”, we may ourselves add that such “Right” was engaged in an ideological endeavour to actually debunk the Sinatra “cultural brand” and – something which is surely of great interest and which further verifies the Lialiouti findings – to actually debunk the “American way of life” itself. We may consider what the “Right-wing” Apogevmatini had to say of a Sinatra film already referred to above, «Πώς να πετύχετε στο δεύτερο γάμο σας» – it would, in 1966, review this film as follows:

«… μια άκακη σάτιρα μιας ωρισμένης
αμερικανικής οικογένειας και κυρίως
 μιας ωρισμένης αμερικανικής νοοτροπίας.
 … Δεν υπάρχει μήτε ύψος, μήτε βάθος»
(cf. Apogevmatini, 4.1.1966, p. 2,
my emph.).

That, we need note once more, is the pro-American “Right” talking, and doing so in the very midst of the Cold War: for it, the Sinatra “cultural brand” is the “organ” of a specific “way of life” devoid of whatever “cultural heights” and whatever “cultural depths”. And it is part of a mentality that is ‘specific’ unto itself («μιας ωρισμένης») and therefore not global, let alone Greek.

Such a critical approach on the part of Apogevmatini was certainly not an isolated attack on just this particular Sinatra film. In 1965, to take yet one other sample, the newspaper would as critically review the Sinatra film, “None But The Brave” (Greek title: «Τιτανομαχία στον Ειρηνικό» or «Τιτανομαχία του Ειρηνικού»), and which was produced and directed by Sinatra himself and wherein he starred. The paper would write:

«Η “Τιτανομαχία” είναι ένα μελόδραμα,
χωρίς πολλή φαντασία και χωρίς πρωτοτυπία
… η ταινία δεν έχει μήτε ρυθμό, μήτε νεύρο.
Οι τύποι στρατιωτών και αξιωματικών,
σύμφωνα με τα πιο ευτελή κλου»
(cf. «ΑΠΟΓΕΥΜΑΤΙΝH», 12.10.1965, p. 2).

What we see here is the absolute decimation of the Sinatra “brand name” coming from the “Right”. And it was a triple decimation: Sinatra was being debunked both as producer, and as director, and as star. The manner in which the film presented the US military, it is said, was itself «ευτελής». It is important to note that such an attempt at decimation and brand-destruction was taking place just three years following the 1962 Sinatra concerts in Athens. What the ‘”Right” was in fact doing was attempting to destroy the “brand-image” of an “All-American” giant who happened to be a “philanthropist” willing to help Greek children (“All of God’s Children”) and who, in helping with the “Reconstruction” of war-torn Greece, had received, as mentioned, the ‘Gold Key’ of Athens. But the underlying implications of that ‘specific’ American «νοοτροπία» and that peculiar way of life could not be digested by the Greek “Right”, for reasons already mentioned.

Finally, we may briefly quote that bastion of 1960’s “Right-wing” thought – the Akropolis – simply so as to show how it viewed American films. With specific reference to Hollywood, it wrote:

«… της μπλαζέ και κορεσμένης πλέον
… αμερικανικής κινηματογραφουπόλεως»
(cf. Akropolis, 18.12.1965, p. 2).

But it was not so much what the “Right” or the “Left” thought about America which constituted the real determining force behind anti-American sentiments. Such grassroots sentiments were above all the product of radical differences between Greeks and Americans as regards socio-cultural practices and values, and which may be put down to the radically different histories of these two peoples (though the Americans were more of a ‘melting pot’ of cultures than ‘a people’). Again, Lialiouti’s research work allows her to draw the following interesting conclusion – as she puts it:

“The Greek dignity (‘filotimo’), and the
inability of Americans to understand it,
becomes the dividing line between the
two people” (p. 14, my emph.).

It would be this “dividing line” which would delineate Greek grassroots sentiment and which would polarize the vast majority of the Greek popular masses vis-à-vis the “American way of life”. It would be such “dividing line” which would lead Greeks to “distrust” Americans for their “cynicism” and the “evil” of their dollar. This would make Greeks look down on Americans for their “cultural inferiority”, and which could protect them from the extremities of any “provocative-interventionism” as expressed in advertizing discourse.

Now, the idea that the Greek popular masses were characterized by a pervading “filotimo” may be rejected out of hand as a mere “myth”, and anyone who lived in Greece in, say, the 1960’s, would find that such «νοοτροπία» could have been both present and absent. But that is to miss the point completely. The point here is that “filotimo” as a myth actually did characterize the “psyche” of many Greeks, and we know that it is such “myth-making” via which a people moves through – and “makes” – its history. It is that which constitutes its historically-determined self-fabricated “truth”, and it may be compared and contrasted to the “cultural brand-building” which stemmed from the discourse of multinational advertizing giants (their “provocative-interventionism”, for instance). Both popular “myth-making” and capitalist “brand-building” contain their own positive material content in their discourse and their own negative ideological content (in the case of popular “myth-making”, for example, it could take the form of chauvinism). Their respective “truths” would depend on which side of the mountain one finds oneself, as also on the extent to which one has the power to assert his truth. To the extent that the Greek popular masses were characterized by an anti-Americanism (as Lialiouti does show), that “filotimo” which supposedly characterized them – qua myth – would operate as a “dividing line” vis-à-vis the “American way of life”. (As regards the “truth” of “myths” in society, cf. Declan Kiberd, “Introduction” to James Joyce’s Ulysses [Penguin Books, 1992, p. xxi], who writes: “… myths embodied people’s immediate response to their physical experience and were not seen as fictive by their adherents”).

Such “dividing line” would, as Lialiouti has found, take the form of looking down on the Americans as “culturally inferior”, and which could be taken to be a form of chauvinism, as suggested. And we have also suggested that such form would constitute a negative ideological content in the discourse of such popular sensibility. And yet, this negativity must be interpreted in a relativistic sense: that which was negatively addressed to the Americans – the Greek “dividing line” – was absolutely positive for the Greek popular masses themselves. Here, the so-called “chauvinism” of Greeks needs to be interpreted as an ideological tool of self-protection against the potential threats posed by the “provocative- interventionism” of US “cultural imperialism”. Thus, when Pavlos Matesis (in his Πάντα καλά, Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη, Athens, 1998, p. 353) presents the ‘common’ Greek as saying, «… δεν έχουν αίσθημα μέσα τους … οι Αμερικάνοι», such Greek would be simply protecting himself against the possibility of bending to the “All-American” discourse of “cultural brand names” (which was itself guilty of selling its own “cultural superiority”). And we should of course also note that such self-protective chauvinism which refers to the ‘absence of sentiment’ amongst Americans was not at all some political critique of US imperialism emanating from whatever political theory. Lialiouti’s research work, which is basically a ‘list’ of Greek anti-American sentiments, verifies the essentially apolitical nature of Greek grassroots anti-Americanism, at least for the period we are examining.

But this whole situation of the post-war period we are describing was riddled with a double paradox. First, we know that despite the well-rooted anti-American sentiments of the Greek popular masses, Sinatra as an American “brand name” would continue to be used in at least some advertizing discourse. And second, Sinatra the singer would be loved by large sections of the Greek population.

As regards the Sinatra “brand name” in advertizing discourse, we may say that its “provocative-interventionism” would persist and run parallel to the near-chauvinist anti-American “dividing line” simmering in the minds of the Greek popular masses. Advertizing discourse would respond to such “dividing line” by presenting Greeks with Sinatra as the “All-American” macho and the “All-American” cowboy. His “brand” would reflect the he-man strength of the US “Empire”. In fact, Sinatra would be the epitome of the “BRAIN AND BRAWN” leader-“Stars” which had also been promoted in Quaker Oats discourse (op. cit.), and to which Greeks were expected to look up to. Evidence of such Sinatra “cultural imperialism” and “provocative-interventionism” in advertizing is ample, and may be detected in “global” advertizing discourse which circulated not only in Greece but across Europe and around the “Free World”. Take, for instance, the “Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select” advertisements promoting the “Gentleman’s Drink”. This was a Tennessee whisky which truly fitted the Sinatra “brand image”, and as such “image” was endlessly being promoted in popular periodicals and newspapers. While Sinatra was supposed to be a true American “Gentleman”, he would also be presented as drinking incessantly, getting violent, and throwing his all-American weight around (let us here remember the Domino allusion to Sinatra’s bouts of violent rage, «όταν θυμώνει…», op. cit.). The entrepreneurial “brains” of a rags-to-riches “gentlemanly” Sinatra would be combined with an image of the “brawny” drunk bent on anti-social aggression. That, at least, was the Sinatra “image” peddled by popular periodicals, and which in some way reflected US discourse of American global power (i.e. “gentlemen” millionaires + aggressive military might). It is interesting to note that in fact Frank Sinatra would often be used by the advertizing industry to promote different brands of liquor. For instance, the “classic American beer”, Budweiser, would be advertized by Sinatra, such “classic” being in keeping with the man’s “All-American image”. And further, the Chivas Regal Scotch whisky would be directly associated with his name, even to the point of sponsoring his various performances. We know of course that the habit of drinking had to go hand-in-hand with that of smoking, and so Sinatra would be used in the Chesterfield Cigarette advertisements. And there would be little point in doubting the “All-American” semantics involved in such promotional discourse: Ronald Reagan had himself promoted the same cigarette brand at some point in time. Finally, it would be as interesting to note that there is a whole list of Sinatra songs which mentioned brand name products in their lyrics as such (for instance, ‘FORD’ would be mentioned in the song, “That Lady is a Tramp”, cf. http://www.amiright.com, where some of the above data are drawn from).

Given the pervading anti-American sentiment which we have described above, it would perhaps not be too difficult to gauge the reaction of the male counterparts of the “Amalia-type”, at least as regards the US “cultural imperialism” and/or “provocative-interventionism” embedded in the discourse of such type of advertisements. On the other hand, and as we shall further discuss below, such discourse would not necessarily alienate the Greek popular masses from Sinatra the singer per se. And yet the “marketing mix” of such powerful “brand name” advertisements would be such as to render them inorganic vis-à-vis the needs and tastes of the popular masses: both the ‘image” being projected and at times the product itself would not connect with the Greek public. Apart from the fact that something like a bottle of Scotch whisky would be well beyond the economic reach of the popular masses at the time, such popular masses would consider Sinatra’s heavy drinking bouts as anti-social behaviour and which would be a symptom of some form of mental disorder. As we have seen in discussing the case of Nikos Troughas, the A&M Mill worker at Aliarto – and who was definitely the most beloved of all truly heavy drinkers in the area (cf. our papers on Nikos Troughas) – his daily binges were part and parcel of a cultural practice constituting the specifically Greek social phenomenon of «μαγκιά», and which was devoid of all aggression and of whatever anti-social behaviour. In fact, the closely related social phenomena of «μαγκιά» and that of the «βαρελόφρωνες» (heavy drinkers of traditional Greek wine at tavernas), were an absolutely organic part of Greek grassroots culture, and which were completely alien to the Sinatra-style of drinking (for an example of the organic role of the «βαρελόφρωνα» in Greek society, cf. the weekly cartoons of Ρομάντσο at the time). It is a historical fact that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the cultural context of drinking wine would not include the term ‘alcoholic’ in its popular lexicon at all (bar exceptional cases, which would be peripheralized) – as such, the Sinatra-style drinking would be rejected as a symptom of what Lialiouti has called US “cultural inferiority”. It is within the context of such near-chauvinist anti-American sensibility which would make Greeks declare that the “naïve” Americans – precisely because they lacked history, culture and tradition – did not know how to drink, that they drank without the necessary «μεζεδάκι» (tidbit), and that they were victims of what doctors would call ‘alcoholism’. And therefore, and exactly as was the case with “PHILISHAVE” (op. cit.), products such as Jack Daniel’s and Chivas Regal Scotch would remain “luxury” products and the “All-American image” these went with would be alien to the popular masses. It is true that in certain villages of Boeotia there would ultimately emerge that poseur “type” who would try to mimic the “cowboy style” of the Sinatra “cultural brand”. In Domvraina, for instance, one would, by the 1980’s, see a shepherd-peasant riding his truck as if he were on a horse and sporting clothes somewhat reminiscent of the American cowboy. But these would be peripheral types and would almost always be the laughing stock of their compatriots. (For a truly brilliant historical analysis of the so-called all-American “cowboy culture”, cf. Eric Hobsbawm, «Ο Αμερικανός Καουμπόης: Ένας Διεθνής Μύθος;», in his Θρυμματισμένοι καιροί – Κουλτούρα και Κοινωνία στον 20ο αιώνα, Θεμέλιο, 2013, pp. 277-293).

But the lovers of Sinatra songs – usually, though not exclusively, the young, romantically-inclined “Amalia-type” – would not at all be the laughing stock amongst the popular masses. This brings us to the second paradox – such paradox constituting an important challenge for any historical sociology, both in abstract theoretical terms as also in terms of dealing with the primary sources. The problem, of course, is how it is possible to explain this seemingly unlikely ‘marriage’ between, on the one hand, a given anti-American sentiment amongst the Greek popular masses and, on the other, a love for the Sinatra song, itself reflective of a US “cultural brand”. Both were real realities and both are simultaneously evident in the selfsame social strata. This particular historical riddle cannot be resolved unless we move a bit further with our definition of the term “cultural brand” or that of “cultural brand-building”. A number of preliminary points need to be made. Firstly, and at a rather abstract level of analysis, we need to distinguish between advertizing discourse meant to promote a particular product, and discourse embedded in the distribution of cultural “services”. Reducing the latter to the former would not allow us to identify their possible difference of frameworks: in the case of cultural services, one may distinguish between different dimensions in the “brand name” of such services per se, something which would not be absolutely similar to the respective multi-dimensionality of discourse promoting a product. Put very simply, the “Amalia-type” would not necessarily respond to the consumption of, say, a “KAMELIA” serviette, as she would respond to the “consumption” of a Sinatra song. While buying a serviette would be induced by a clear material necessity, listening to and experiencing a song would of course be an expression of a different kind of necessity, i.e. entertainment. This would mean that the dimensions that a “brand name” could take in the fulfillment of a material need would not necessarily be the same as in the case of a “brand name” fulfilling the impulse for entertainment. While such different dimensions would and did inter-mix (constituting what we have called the “mass aesthetics” of the Greek middle class milieu), these dimensions can be analytically distinguished. This would allow us to re-define the term (Sinatra) “cultural brand”, and thus understand how such “brand” could dialectically interact with the anti-American “myth-making” in the Greek socio-cultural context, and thereby effecting that ‘marriage’ we have spoken of.

We may attempt a re-definition of the term “cultural brand”, and more specifically a re-definition of Sinatra as a “brand name”, by seeing such “cultural market idea” as a living entity, literally speaking. The “Amalia-type” would literally “live” such entity in the full sense of the word, down to her very groin. Here, it would not be a case of selective “thought and attention”, but rather a case of selective impulse whereby the Sinatra song would be a cultural experience in itself. The “brand name” would here be checked and re-formed by that experiential impulse as such, and would thus be rendered relatively autonomous of the intended semantics of the original “brand name”. But it would be rendered autonomous precisely because the potential dimensions of such “cultural brand service” would allow for such autonomy.

Which would be the dimensions of the Sinatra “cultural brand”? And which of these would create ‘ideological spaces’ allowing for their possible ‘usurpation’ on the part of the “Amalia-type”? At least four dimensions may be identified, sometimes conflicting amongst themselves and sometimes not, and each of which would have its own specific functions. These dimensions may be enumerated as follows:

  • The semantics and representations of what has been called “US cultural imperialism” – the function in this case obviously being political, and which must be understood in the context of the then “Cold War”;
  • The semantics and representations of the Sinatra “cultural brand” used exclusively for the promotion of a product – here, the utility of a product would be closely intertwined with the already existing “cultural service”. The consumption of a bottle of whisky, for example, was meant to be done in the “Sinatra-style”. The primary function here was to sell the product, and would complement the above function.
  • The semantics and representations expressed in the lyrics of Sinatra songs, which would also – at times – include the mentioning of specific brand products. Generally, the function here was to “entertain”, but in cases where some brand product was mentioned, we would have a double function, i.e. both sell and “entertain”.
  • The semantics and representations of Sinatra songs determined by the global grassroots demand for “pop music” amongst the youth of the period, and which was part and parcel of the dynamics of a “revolution” which for the first time in history posited individual youthful identity as a social category in itself and for itself. Here, the central function was to “entertain” youth in a manner which celebrated the triumph of the individual “everyman”, and would do so in a post-war context where that youthful “everyman” was in any case celebrating his new-found identity with or without Sinatra.

This brings us to the whole question of “entertainment” in the 1960’s and how such cultural grassroots practice could neutralize at least certain elements of “provocative- interventionism” in a “US cultural brand” as was that of Sinatra. We have already said a few things on youth entertainment in 1960’s Greece (cf., inter alia, our paper specifically devoted to the various forms this would take at the time). But here we may present the phenomenon of “entertainment” in a manner which radically revises whatever approach seeks to reduce the Sinatra “cultural brand name” to a “manipulative tool” of American imperialism. Perhaps one of the most important recent attempts at revising our understanding of “entertainment” as a historical phenomenon has been the work of Irving Fang who, in his A History of Mass Communication (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997), examines what he sees as a transition from mass consumption to mass communication. Fang places the phenomenon of “entertainment” within the context of a long-term historical process. Within such general perspective, he identifies six “revolutions” in the field of communication, these “Information Revolutions” being the following:

  • 1st: writing;
  • 2nd: printing;
  • 3rd: mass media;
  • 4th: entertainment;
  • 5th: the “Toolshed Home”;
  • 6th: internet.

At least as regards the “developed” or “developing” world of the 1960’s and 1970’s, we may comment that the “4th Revolution” of mass entertainment would, for the very first time, involve masses of people in directly participating in their own personal celebration. Such “entertainment” of one’s own self, such celebration at least outside the workplace, would be a symptom of the popular optimism of the post-war period.

We are suggesting that this “entertainment” would take place at least outside the workplace, and we say this because “entertainment” could also take place within it, and thereafter those who had participated would normally be penalized if caught red-handed by a supervisor. We may here refer to the various pranks that employees would play on one another within the A&M Mill factory (cf. Γιωργία Κρεμμύδα interview, May 10, 2009, op. cit). And we may also refer to various penalties imposed on Dourida workers for “entertaining” themselves during work-hours. We briefly mention here just two samples (drawn from the Dourida company archives):

«ΑΝΑΚΟΙΝΩΣΙΣ
Ανακοινούμεν ότι, οι εργάται πλεκτηρίου
Φανελλών Χρυσάντζας Δημήτριος και
Καραμάνος Άγγελος, τιμωρούνται με πρόστιμον
εκατό (100) δρχ. ο καθένας, διότι την 24/7/78
και … ώραν 19,15 ευρέθησαν παρά του Κου
Μπαρμπούνη να αστειεύονται εν ώρα εργασίας.
Έκ του γραφείου προσωπικού…
Έν Θήβαις τη 25/7/78».

«ΑΝΑΚΟΙΝΩΣΙΣ
Ανακοινούμεν ότι, οι εργαζόμενοι εις το συνεργείον
συντηρήσεως 1) Νικολούτσος  Θεοφ. 2) Πολυτάνας
Νικ. 3) Πρεβεζάνος Ηλίας, τιμωρούνται με πρόστιμον
100 εκατό δρχ. ο καθένας διότι την 13/9/78
συνελήφθησαν από του Κου Αν. Μπαρμπούνη να
ακούνε μουσική εντός αυτοκινήτου εν ώρα εργασίας.
Έκ του γραφείου προσωπικού…
Έν Θήβαις τη 18/9/1978».

It would of course be silly to assume that the period of the 1960’s and 1970’s in Greece was a time of no work and all play. And yet, this rampant popular optimism of the period must be placed in the context of Fang’s “4th Revolution”, and it is precisely within such “Revolution” that the Sinatra “cultural brand” should also be seen, this being one of its dimensions which we have identified above. The specifically Greek popular optimism would take the form of the “Greek Dream” which, while somehow reminiscent of the “American Dream”, would nonetheless be relatively autonomous of it, given the grassroots anti-American sentiments discussed (and also given the objectively determined material limits of such “Greek Dream’). It would be within its own relative autonomy that it would co-opt dimensions of the Sinatra “cultural brand” to celebrate the rise of the Greek middle class milieu. Here, the “Americanism” of Sinatra would fade and the young Greek “Amalia-type” would identify itself as such, usually with a strong strain of “romanticism”. Such fading would never be absolute. To the extent that elements of US “cultural imperialism” would persist in the manner that the “Amalia-type” would experience the Sinatra songs, this would constitute the negative ideological content of the Sinatra “brand-name” as “lived” by Amalia Eleftheriadou. But such negative content would take second place in the face of the positive grassroots ideological content of an “entertainment” constituting the “4th Revolution” and celebrating a new-found individuality – that which we have identified as the “New Type”.

The at times internally contradictory dimensions of the Sinatra “cultural-brand”, we are suggesting, would be impulsively usurped and co-opted by the “Amalia-type”, such type also being anti-American in sentiment. The contradictory dimensions creating an ideological “space” for usurpation and co-optation are evident in the discourse of many Sinatra songs. While, on the one hand, Sinatra would be meant to be the “All-American Boy” creating “All-American music”, he would, on the other hand, be challenging prior distinctions between “high culture” and “popular entertainment”, the latter now coming to embody the superiority of the “everyday image” of the “everyman” in his new-found post-war virulence and optimism. As has so often been said, Sinatra songs were a patent for the popular song, and therefore a patent for “pop” and the “swing era”. It would be such patent that would “entertain” the “romanticism” of the “everyman” in post-war Greece, and which would include the feminine “romanticism” of a working person such as the “Amalia-type”. As we have discussed elsewhere, the “romanticism” of the young popular masses would by-pass the flaccid “romanticism” of a Romantso in Greece and link up with a “sexual revolution” which would scandalize the older generations generally, and the Puritanism of both the “Left” and the “Right” in particular. Sinatra’s “pop”, as a patent, would be part of this socio-cultural process in Greece: it would “swing” Greek traditional conventions out of their pre-war orbit, but without effecting any real denial of the “Greekness” of such experience and without ever helping to overcome the impulse of anti-Americanism as felt by Greeks.

Such usurpation, co-optation and selective reformulation of the discourse of Sinatra songs by Greek youth in the 1960’s and 1970’s would mean that there would be no need for any process of “brand destruction”. We know and have discussed how both the “Left” and the “Right” had tried to decimate the Sinatra “cultural brand”, but this would not meet with any success at all. But specifically as regards the Sinatra “brand”, this would ultimately be faced with a “brand fatigue” – and it is absolutely important to emphasize that such “fatigue” would come about as a result of new tastes determined by the grassroots forces of the “cultural revolution” of youth around the “Western World”, as also in Greece itself. While it had been impossible to re-brand, decimate or peripheralize the Sinatra “cultural brand” by the “Left” opposition or by the “Right-wing” State, it would be the workings of the so-called “base” which would finally undo such “brand”. Whatever “provocative- interventionist” discourse would be embedded in the Sinatra discourse, this too would be washed away given the changing tastes of the youthful popular masses.

We know what it was that would finally lead to the Sinatra “brand fatigue” – we know that much, but many commentators (especially those of the “Left”) have had difficulty in interpreting the phenomenon of such “fatigue”. It would of course be the oncoming wave of “Rock” culture which would gradually peripheralize the Sinatra “brand name”. The question has always been whether cultural trends have been imposed from “above” or have sprouted from “below”. But the term itself, “fatigue” (coined by the advertizing industry itself), seems to suggest that it is not a question of so-called Ideological Apparatuses getting tired of their own discourse – that would be quite ludicrous in itself. Chris McDonald, in his Rock Music and the Middle Class (Indiana University Press, 2009), has argued that, to begin with, it had been the technological developments which would lead to changes in the meaning of musical instruments, and which would provide the technical infrastructure for developments in grassroots popular taste as such. In that sense, one can see the limited role of the advertizing industry itself in such process. Rock culture would mean a further democratization of the mass media, this time even covering voices from the margins of society. This had not been possible within the ideological ambit of the Sinatra “cultural brand”. Further, and again unlike the Sinatra “brand”, Rock would come to express counter-cultural values, these being symbolic of the youthful “revolution” amongst the popular masses. But the wide democratization represented by Rock culture would mean that it was able to wed a popular style to the genteel aspirations of the up-and-coming middle classes, while at the same time feeding the needs of the experimental sexual aspirations of youth.

It would be inaccurate to assert that McDonald’s work has gone as far as we are suggesting – we are basically using some of the data he provides and are weaving these into the historical findings of Eric Hobsbawm (cf. The Age of Extremes…, op. cit., especially chapter XI). The latter has come up with observations on Rock culture which could have more or less applied to the Greek case – for instance, he writes:

«Οι πιο δραματικές πολιτικές εξελίξεις,
ιδιαίτερα στις δεκαετίες του ’60 και του ’70,
ήταν οι κινητοποιήσεις της ηλικιακής αυτής
ομάδας [i.e. youth] που στις λιγότερο
πολιτικοποιημένες χώρες πλούτισαν κυριολεκτικά
τις εταιρείες δίσκων, όταν αυτές πωλούσαν το
75–80% της παραγωγής τους – συγκεκριμένα η
μουσική rock – σε καταναλωτές ηλικίας
δεκατεσσάρων με είκοσι πέντε ετών» (p. 415).

Greek conventional wisdom – and especially that coming from the “Left” – would of course be enraged by any suggestion to the effect that 1960’s Greece belonged to the category of the less “politicized” countries, and that Greek youth would be more interested in entertaining itself with Rock music than the politics of ΕΔΑ. And yet, as we have tried to show elsewhere (cf., inter alia, our paper on Greek 1960’s music), the “Amalia-type” would not be informed by any specific political ideology. Maybe even more importantly, we need to stress that whatever political upheaval was taking place at the time, such upheaval was not an expression of youth consciousness (as in the case of France or the USA) – it was rather a continuation of the divisions of the Greek Civil War in the 1940’s.

In Greece, in any case, “Rock and Roll” culture amongst youth would be especially influenced by the British version of that trend, which would be popular amongst working people and be part and parcel of the “teddy boy” movement, both in Britain and in Greece. The espousing of Rock culture amongst Greek youth would come to effect the “fatigue” of the Sinatra “cultural brand”. McDonald has himself argued that Rock had had the power to “colonize” other musics. In Greece, as elsewhere, it would be the escalating “frenzy” and grassroots spontaneity of the youthful popular masses which would cause such “fatigue”. The oncoming wave of Rock would peripheralize the Sinatra “brand” – though of course not ever completely – given the onward march of the triumphant individual re-identifying himself as such but also through a new ‘anti-establishment’ collectivity. As for the latter, we would here detect the first signs of an up-and-coming middle class (or a wage-earning middle class) preparing to re-define its relation to the State (and which would help establish the Greek version of the European Welfare State). It is within such context that we need to understand the limits of whatever “provocative-interventionism”, and as such discourse was evident in the “cultural imperialism” of the Sinatra “brand”.

The Sinatra “cultural brand” would not ever be fully surpassed because, although pre-Rock (not in a strictly chronological sense), it too had expressed a popular culture which had questioned conventional “high culture” and had spoken to the “Amalia-type” by celebrating her everyday life and the “romance” that coloured aspects of such life. The clash between the Sinatra-style classic pop song and the Rock-dominated popular music was a clash which had also expressed elements of Greek youth in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This clash, which posited the “romance” of an “Amalia-type” up against the “teddyboyism” of at least some of her male peers, would not be a clear-cut division: Amalia’s own brother, Leonidas, could easily have displayed elements of such “teddyboyism” (cf. editorials of the Aliartian local newspaper quoted above). We may here tentatively suggest that the Greek clash of generations was also accompanied by a sub-clash within the younger generations themselves, whereby the grassroots ideology of “romanticism” – prevalent mainly amongst young females – would be questioned by either the “Wild One” paradigm hailing from America or by the “Teddy Boy” paradigm hailing from Britain, and as such sub-culture would be adopted by Greek male youths. This on-going clash – between the sexes – would mean that the Sinatra “brand”, while definitely undergoing a certain “fatigue”, would nonetheless not be extinguished completely. But our point is that, all along, the degrees of “fatigue” effected on whatever “cultural brand” would be a consequence of grassroots cultural clashes. The role of a Romantso or of that of the Sinatra “brand” (with respect to “romanticism”), or the role of certain American films (with respect to the “Wild One”), cannot be reduced to that of mere “manipulation” on the part of such Ideological Apparatuses: the objectively-determined waves of the triumph of youth identity would themselves “inform” the so-called “dominant ideology” of such Ideological Apparatuses (and which were therefore themselves characterized by both a positive and a negative ideological content).

With respect to the Frank Sinatra “cultural brand” and its specific operation in the Greek socio-cultural context, we may draw the following conclusions:

  • The “Amalia-type”, as an important representative of 1960’s life, could have reacted to the Sinatra “brand name” given the popular anti-American sentiments (not political dogmas) identified by the work of Lialiouti. But Sinatra had also been extremely popular as a singer. While used as a means for “cultural imperialism” by others, the Greek popular masses would themselves ‘use’ him for his voice and lyrics, which is another way of saying that the Sinatra song would be ‘used’ for popular entertainment and the celebration of everyday youthfulness (especially that of the “romantic” type). Thus, the “Amalia-type”, or the representativeness of such “type” of life – it being a generic life-form at the time – may have certainly distrusted all things “American”, and yet have at the same time assimilated the “modern” taste and would have experimented with it in its own way.
  • Above all, the Sinatra song in Greece must be seen as part and parcel of the rising middle class milieu amongst the popular masses, be these shop-owners or wage-labourers, or some combination of such objective class positions. Definitely most expressive of such milieu was Sinatra’s famous song “My Way”, released in 1969. All Greeks, whatever their political orientation, would “do it their way” when it came to building their own house or acquiring their own apartment, or purchasing their fridge or TV set. By the 1970’s and 1980’s, Greece would be swamped with privately-owned cars and Greeks would become notorious for their ferocious driving habits – here too, they would be “doing it their own way” (much research has already been undertaken on the specifically Greek manner of driving cars, especially by psychoanalysts of the Jacques Lacan School).
  • We have tried to understand the issue of Sinatra as a “cultural brand name” by placing it in the context of “cultural consumption” and which willy-nilly raises the issue of local grassroots taste and the in-built constraints of such taste. When it came to buying a product such as a serviette, the “Amalia-type” would try to maximize utility, but subject to (above all though not exclusively so) a budget constraint. But when it came to what was exclusively a cultural “utility” (such as the Sinatra “brand”), the “Amalia-type” would live or experience a series of cultural constraints vis-à-vis such “utility”, given the Greek context. Here, the Sinatra “brand” would find itself confronted with the constraints of pre-existing Greek socio-cultural practices. To the extent that the Greek popular masses would put themselves in command as “cultural consumers” – and they would do so given, inter alia, their pre-existing socio-cultural practices but also their rising consumer power – a “taste issue” would invariably arise. It would be such “taste issue” that would carry the in-built constraints. There would be three basic constraints, all three of which would dialectically interact with one another – these constraints being the following: a) the anti-American popular sentiments, which would also take the form of a distrust for American cultural practices; b) the traditions, customs and ethics of the Greek context informed by what Poulantzas has identified as the «χωρότητα» and the «ιστορικότητα» of a people (cf. his State, Power, Socialism, op. cit., p. 169); and c) the global popular culture, especially that of youth, permeating Greek society as well. Any one of these three basic constraints would be as real as the other two. Such triple reality would be the cause of the “taste issue”, and which would resolve itself in two ways: first, we would have a Greek-‘made’ American Sinatra; and second, we would have an American Sinatra ‘making’ the Greeks. Together, discovering a homeostatic balance and thus circumventing a schizoid “taste”, these two cultural forces would yield the emergence of a new cultural synthesis. In the field of entertainment, this new synthesis would be one aspect (but just one) of the new, gradually emerging Greek middle class milieu.
  • Even this new synthesis, however, would have its own time constraints. While it would be the Greek popular masses who would adopt and “live” this new synthesis, it would be these selfsame masses who would be the agents of the relative cultural fatiguing of the new synthesis. It would be they who would deconstruct the Sinatra “cultural brand name”: for sections of the popular masses, this deconstruction would be total and permanent; for other sections of the public, it would only be a partial deconstruction which would attempt a loose synthesis between the remnants of the Sinatra “brand” and the new oncoming musical trends (and here we would also have to take into account the “new waves” of the specifically Greek music which intermingled with the foreign “brands” and which would cause a further deconstruction of the Sinatra “brand” –  cf. our paper on 1960’s musical trends in Greece).
  • Generally, we may say that it is within such framework that we need to adopt a methodological approach with respect to all discourse informed by a “provocative- interventionism”. The latter type of discourse in Greece would function or dysfunction within this mesh of constraints and within these processes of fatiguing which we have tried to describe. All “interventionist brand-building” exercises in the domain of the market (selling products), all “interventionist brand-building” exercises in the domain of culture (but which would themselves relate to the selling of a product), and all “interventionist brand-building” exercises in the domain of culture per se (forms of entertainment) – all such historical phenomena in the Greek context cannot be evaluated unless the in-built constraints and the inevitable fatiguing are also considered.

…………………………..

Speaking of “constraints” allows us to now move further with our examination of advertizing discourse in the 1960’s. We shall here examine “LUX” advertising discourse of the period which clearly shows that its “provocative-interventionism”, which again makes use of Hollywood “stars” as “brand names”, would be severely constrained, but this time mainly by the material conditions of Greece at the time. Here, it would not primarily be the anti-American sentiments of Greeks, or the «χωρότητα» and «ιστορικότητα» that would characterize their experience, etc., which would alienate them both from the thing sold (but for only some period of time) and especially from the discourse trying to sell it. In this case, any attempt at trying to inject the “American Dream” – in the form of the “Hollywood type” – into the Greek context, would be faced, not simply by an ideological wall of distrust, but by a material wall of consumer incapacity. American ideology at the time, together with the cultural paradigms it represented, would in the last instance be defeated by Greek material conditions-qua-“constraints”. When, however, such “constraints” would be lifted in time, it would not be the “American Dream” which would triumph but, rather, the Greek (anti-American) middle class milieu. The time would come when Greeks would both use “LUX” to wash themselves and remain anti-American in sentiment – it would be precisely such comfortable combination that would save the “LUX” soap from whatever “fatiguing”, right through to the 21st century. Let us consider the wording of a “LUX” advertisement, which appeared in the popular periodical Domino in 1966:

«Όπως οι αστέρες του Χόλλυγουντ,
καταλήξατε κι’ εσείς οριστικά
στο σαπούνι τουαλέττας LUX…»
(cf. Domino, τεύχ. 446, 10.9. 1966).

It is quite apparent that in the case of this advertizing discourse there is an imbalance between it and the reality it is meant to address: it would rush up against specific material “constraints” and which would also have cultural implications (as a by-product). By this we mean that the Greek consumer would feel an alienating chasm between, on the one hand, the image of the “Hollywood stars” he is presented with and, on the other, his own constraining material reality. The very idea of a Hollywoodian “star”, with which the Greek was supposedly meant to identify, could have provoked him negatively and thus have further estranged him from all things “American”. The “Hollywood type”, presented as a paradigm meant to be adopted by Greeks, could not possibly have connected with the real material chasm which existed between the “Hollywoodian Dream” and the Greek reality of the 1960’s. It would be this obvious imbalance between paradigm and reality which would render this advertizing discourse thoroughly “provocative”. Its “interventionism” could only but have been absurd for the vast majority of the Greek popular masses. Put otherwise, we have here one case of an advertisement which pressed for the “unreachable dream”. Very simply, in the early-1960’s, the “Amalia-type” did not possess a bathroom. In the absence of a bathroom, what could the phrase «καταλήξατε κι’ εσείς» have possibly meant for Amalia Eleftheriadou?

The “LUX” advertizing discourse allows us to further examine the specific workings of “provocative-interventionist” discourse and the degree to which it would try to “translate” its “global” promotional symbols for the Greek case. It would also allow us to examine the pre-given “constraints” which would delimit the effectiveness of its advertizing campaigns in 1960’s Greece. Finally, examining the case of “LUX” shall also show us how, while the Greek consumer would ultimately come to buy the product, he would not fall victim to the practice of what had been called “luxing”, which related the usage of the “LUX” toilet soap to a particular cultural paradigm of the “American way of life”.

We know that by 1925 “LUX” would be the first mass market toilet soap in the world (on the question of soap as a rising mass product in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, cf. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age Of Empire…, op. cit., p. 76; similarly, on the relationship between soap and the advertizing industry, cf. p. 106). Of course, the vast majority of the Greek popular masses would have had no inkling of the existence of “LUX” at the time. And yet, “LUX” was being developed by Unilever as a “global brand”. As we shall see below, it would be Unilever’s LINTAS-HELLAS that would finally undertake the promotion of “LUX” in Greece, but that would be as late as the 1970’s. Prior to that, Unilever would be developing its own promotional strategies from its homeground in the USA.

The development of the “LUX” toilet soap as a “global brand” would take on a very special characteristic as regards the advertizing discourse that would come to accompany it: as is well known, it would be the “LUX” brand which would pioneer female “celebrity endorsements” (cf., inter alia, cosmopoliti.com, 15.12.2014, etc.). Starting from 1928 and up to 1940, the brand would concentrate on building and cementing its association with the increasingly popular movie world. Geoffrey Jones, in his excellent study of the history of “global brands”, confirms this – as he writes:

“In 1925, Lever Brothers launched the perfumed
Lux bar soap, which grew after a 1928 advertizing
campaign asserting that nearly 100 percent of
Hollywood screen stars used the brand”
(cf. Geoffrey Jones, “Globalization and Beauty:
A Historical and Firm Perspective”, EurAmerica,
Vol. 41, No. 4, Dec. 2011, pp. 893-894).

This “brand-building” association with the world of female movie “stars” would continue through to the late-1960’s. For instance, in 1968, “LUX” soap would be promoted at a global level by Raquel Welch, an actress who in the 1960’s and 1970’s was considered to be one of the “sexiest” females on screen (a reigning “iconic sex symbol” of the period, so to speak).

It would be in 1964 that “LUX” would be introduced to the Greek consumer. Unilever’s global advertizing discourse – the use of female Hollywood “stars” to promote “LUX” – would simply be imposed onto the Greek socio-cultural context. Such unilateral imposition would mean that the Greek popular masses were expected to endorse – or ‘understand’ – American-based cultural notions pertaining to skin-care, the usage of a bathroom (which implied, amongst other paraphernalia, the existence of hot running water), and the whole atmosphere of the “world of Hollywood”. We may here consider a 1964 advertisement promoting “LUX” in Greece, and which this time would make use of the actress Catherine Deneuve – this advertising sample, which had appeared in the Greek press and popular periodicals (cf. cosmopoliti.com, op. cit.) – read as follows:

«… “Είμαι κατενθουσιασμένη με το σαπούνι LUX”…
μας εξομολογείται η ΚΑΤΕΡΙΝ ΝΤΕΝΕΒ η
μεγάλη Γαλλίς ηθοποιός…
“Το ευγενικό και διακριτικό άρωμα του LUX με
έχει καταγοητεύσει. Το λευκό σαπούνι
τουαλέττας LUX είναι πραγματικά αγνό. Με τον
πλούσιο και απαλό αφρό του διατηρώ την
επιδερμίδα μου πάντα δροσερή και ξανανοιωμένη”.
Όπως η Κάτεριν Ντενέβ χρησιμοποιείτε και σεις
το σαπούνι τουαλέττας LUX κάθε μέρα. Είναι το
σαπούνι της ομορφιάς των αστέρων του Χόλλυγουντ.
9 στους 10 αστέρες του Χόλλυγουντ φροντίζουν την
ομορφιά τους με σαπούνι τουαλέττας LUX.
Πωλείται τώρα και στην Ελλάδα».

This type of advertizing discourse, with its references to images such as «πλούσιο και απαλό αφρό», etc., seems to be completely out of place when contrasted to the material conditions of Greece at the time. It needs to be contrasted, for instance, to how Nikos Kitsikis would describe the material state of affairs in Greece in 1963, when he would make the rather dramatic observation: «Είμαστε λαός τρωγλοδυτών!», which was hardly an overstatement at least as regards housing conditions at the time (cf. Ελληνική Αριστερά, αρ. φύλλ. 1, August 1963, p. 19). Such material constraints would themselves determine the manner in which the “Amalia-type” would receive such Unilever discourse. Amalia Eleftheriadou would care for her skin, and especially that of her fingers (she would be doing an enormous amount of typing at the Headquarters of the A&M Mill). But whatever care she would take for her beauty and skin-care, she would nonetheless do it within socio-economic and cultural constraints which could not possibly recreate any semblance of the “Hollywood world”. She could buy a bar or two of “LUX” in the course of the week, but that could not reproduce whatever image of the life of “Hollywoodian stars”. That much is obvious, and it was exactly that much which Unilever advertizing discourse would choose to ignore in the 1960’s.

Thus, despite the unreachable “Dream”, Unilever would insist on the imposition of the US advertizing slogan, “9 out of 10 screen stars use Lux Toilet Soap”, onto the Greek socio-cultural context in the 1960’s. And we are referring to a slogan which, in America, had first appeared in advertizing discourse (e.g. “Dainty Girls Win Out”) dating back to the 1920’s and 1930’s. We thus had the direct reproduction of a pre-war value-laden discourse within the Greek context, which was a discourse born in the USA five decades ago, and which was supposed to ‘speak’ to a young Aliartian female struggling to survive under the despotic repression of a small-time capitalist as was Marakis. It seems, therefore, that here we have a perfect example of the “provocative-interventionist” type of advertisement which we have tried to define. As we shall see below, even such ‘perfect’ example of “interventionism” would ultimately have to adjust to local conditions, but we nonetheless need to dwell on Unilever’s almost exceptional insistence on ignoring, say, the psycho-somatic needs and material constraints of an Amalia Eleftheriadou (and which is a case of discourse quite reminiscent of that of “PHILISHAVE” discussed above).

Geoffrey Jones’ work (op. cit.) is excellent in that it both verifies the exceptional “provocative-interventionism” of “LUX” advertizing discourse, but also goes on to show how such discourse inflexibility would ultimately be made to bend to local socio-cultural contexts (and which shows how the study of “LUX” advertizing discourse can be especially useful in any examination of “compromise” embedded in dominantly rigid advertizing discourse). To begin with, Jones makes a general observation, based on an analysis of his empirical evidence, which fully endorses our own research approach thus far – he notes:

“Even the most ‘global’ beauty brand was
in practice typically very local” (p. 900).

But, he goes on to argue, this would not apply to Unilever toiletry brands, suggesting that here we had a notable exception to such reality – he writes:

“[Unilever]… had more success maintaining
consistency across countries in several large
toiletry brands than in its much larger detergents
and food businesses. Lux toilet soap, which
was sold on five continents by 1960 and was
the largest-selling toilet bar soap, was marketed
worldwide with a consistent brand positioning
as the ‘soap of the stars’…” (ibid.).

It would be this worldwide “consistency” in the advertizing discourse accompanying “LUX” soap which would constitute its “provocative-interventionist” character as regards countries such as Greece. Such global “consistency” needs to be explained, and it is explainable in terms of the attempts being made at the time to globalize “ideal beauty”. These were in fact mere attempts, given the material and cultural constraints which would characterize different regions and countries around the world of the 1960’s. And yet, the sheer force of the effort was itself a reality, and the effect this had had on the popular masses cannot be simply brushed aside. What we are here suggesting is that the story of “LUX” advertizing discourse – its rigid consistency – is closely interwoven with the as consistent attempts that were being made to develop specific “norms” of female beauty around the world (we have already seen how Unilever would be a pioneer to female “celebrity endorsements”).

The 1960’s and 1970’s were a period of time when, for the very first time in human history, global symbols of female beauty would be nurtured and promoted on a truly mass basis, to the extent of being able to reach even the most remotest of Greek villages. Rachel Welch would be known and admired by the “average Greek” – pictures of her half-naked body would be regularly published in all of the popular periodicals. But it would be especially Ursula Andress who would be the Greek favourite “sex-symbol” (amongst both males and females, but for different reasons), and especially given her role as the “ultimate Bond Girl” following her appearance in “Dr. No” (Bond films being extremely popular in 1960’s Greece). Of course, it would not only be the Hollywoodian-based “sex icons” that would fire the Greek imagination: France’s Brigitte Bardot and Italy’s Sophia Loren would themselves be very popular amongst the popular masses, and even though these two “stars” would themselves be sucked into the Hollywood paradigm, they would nonetheless retain their ‘Europeaness’ in the minds of Greeks. We need to understand the “LUX” advertizing discourse in the context of this consistent discourse of “global beauty norms”.

But such “norms” were neither simple formulae in themselves nor a one-way imposition of standards on recipients. They were not simple formulae designating any one particular norm: while Welch was the all-American girl hailing from Chicago, Andress symbolized the Swiss sense of beauty; likewise, Loren’s shape and style were all-Italian while it was the French sense of beauty that was encapsulated in Bardot. And there could never have been a one-way imposition of “norms”: in Greece, the “Amalia-type” would not wish to equate herself to the standards of a Welch or an Andress. Amalia Eleftheriadou, that is, would not fantasize over the image of such “sex symbols” and project her own image onto theirs, the latter being too ‘other-worldly’. On the other hand, the global emphasis on “beauty norms” would reinforce the “Amalia-type’s” wish to be “beautiful” in her own way. There was therefore neither true consistency in “norms” as such, nor any consistency in the manner in which such variable “norms” were “lived” by the female popular masses. In that sense, the “LUX” advertizing discourse, in its very endorsement of “stars” bathed in the bright lights of Hollywood would simply be a damp squib in the eyes of Amalia Eleftheriadou.

But the mere fact that the “Amalia-type” would begin to consciously care for her physical beauty – in her own way – was an unprecedented fact, and the use of the “LUX” toilet soap would definitely come to play an important role in such process. There is no denying that the “norms” of beauty being promoted at the time, albeit complex and multifarious in their own way (despite the conventional wisdom of the “Left” which reduced all “norms” to forms of “sexism”) would play a major role in the socio-cultural practices of the popular masses throughout the 20th century. Class, national and political struggles would themselves characterize the century – but all these cannot be understood outside the as real context of popular identity vis-à-vis “individual beauty”. The “beauty norms” of the 1960’s and 1970’s –to which the “LUX” advertizing discourse would cling on to so rigidly and so tenaciously – would herald the triumph of individual beauty. The latter was a natural product of post-war modernity, and the cultural consciousness of the popular masses was an active agent in such phenomenon. Interestingly, it was the “LUX” advertizing discourse that would lag behind such process, insisting on global stereotypes of “beauty” that simply ignored localized socio-cultural constraints. Unilever, of course, would come to sense that its discourse more or less operated in a vacuum – but as a ‘giant’ of sorts, it initially had no eyes for the millions of ‘dwarfs’. The latter, however, would truly re-educate the former.

What we are here suggesting is that such a multinational giant as was Unilever – precisely because it was multi-national and precisely because it was just a bit too ‘big’ for local realities – constituted the backward element in the unfolding historical process heralding the individual “beauty” of the “Amalia-type” in Greece. Unilever had wanted to introduce, and had at first insisted on, that more “sensual aspect” to bathing – but it was doing so in a context wherein Greeks were still bathing in their rather primitive «σκάφες» or in their «φτωχοπλυσταριό» (cf. the Theodorakis 1961 song, «Σαββατόβραδο»). It would take a great stretch of the imagination to bridge the gap between any «φτωχοπλυσταριό» and what Unilever was calling “That film star feeling” when using a bar of “LUX” toilet soap.

Now, because – as we have suggested – the likes of an Amalia Eleftheriadou would certainly begin to care for their own feminine beauty in their own way, it would be wrong to assume that their own experience of bathing was necessarily devoid of what the Unilever discourse had dubbed “the sensual element”. In fact, the Theodorakis song mentioned above very accurately conveys the atmosphere of “sensuality” as experienced by a young female belonging to the working class strata. But the “sensuality” of the “Amalia-type” had little to do with any Hollywoodian “film star feeling”. And much more than that, the “Amalia-type” would have rejected the overtly provocative rawness of a Unilever advertizing discourse which had, even since the 1920’s, over-emphasized the issue of sex, and had linked sex to cigarettes. It is well known that “LUX” global advertizing campaigns had been conceptually organized around one central idea, i.e. that of “Soap, Sex, and Cigarettes” (already mentioned above in discussing the role of ΕΔΕΕ and Leoussis in the field of Greek advertizing), and which had played a major role in the cultural history of American advertizing since the turn of the century. Thus, it was not just a matter of Unilever’s refusal to get to know and adjust to the socio-cultural constraints entwining the “Amalia-type” – it was also a question of perhaps unwittingly violating the local “ethics” of which that “type” was an organic part, and it was organically so even as the Greek “sexual revolution” was weaving its way around the minds and bodies of Greek youth (such “revolution” had had its own local constraints). We have already discussed above how the initiatives of Leoussis and ΕΔΕΕ would, following the decade of the 1960’s, try to somehow exercise some form of control over especially “ethically provocative” advertizing discourse (with, inter alia, the establishment of a «Κώδικα Δεοντολογίας», the first article of which had stipulated that advertizing discourse should refrain from insulting the “ethics” of the Greek people).

The Unilever discourse would ultimately come to take such «Κώδικα» into consideration, and would do so for a number of reasons. But the very first cause of its change of discourse- strategy has to do with what we have identified as the multifarious nature of the “norms of beauty” and how such “norms” would never really be “global” as such. Unilever’s narrow rigidity of discourse would prove unsustainable – its “global consistency” would finally collapse, and it would be the “Amalia-type” as female agent-qua-consumer which would bring about such veritable collapse.

The non-Marxist Geoffrey Jones (op. cit.) points to the complexity and multi-dimensionality of the “norms of beauty” in the 1960’s and tries to explain this reality in a manner which the great Marxist historian, E. P. Thompson, would have surely admired. To begin with, he explains why Unilever’s strategy to link “LUX” to Hollywood screen stars would come to face its own limits – he notes:

“[But Hollywood itself was] heavily dependent
on export markets, so there was no narrow
definition of beauty” (p. 894).

The implications of such an observation are obvious: these “markets” were none other than the popular masses around the world, and such masses – in their various “localities” – would simply refuse to accept whatever “narrow” definition of beauty imposed on them from the ‘outside’ (be that Hollywood, or whatever). If Hollywood wanted to export its cultural products to, say, Greece, it could only but have to adjust its “norms” of female beauty to the Greek socio-cultural landscape. Of course, Unilever discourse would have to follow suit (and it certainly did, as we shall see).

Jones goes on to systematically debunk the whole myth of an all-powerful “globalized ideal beauty” (and thus at the same time unwittingly debunks all theories of “alienation” as articulated by the “Left”) by showing how any attempts at the homogenization of whatever “norms” would necessarily be delimited by the constraints imposed on such “norms” by the popular masses of different countries and localities. In an analysis which reveals a highly perceptive understanding of the dialectics of grassroots cultural formation, he writes:

“At no point were globalization and homogenization
entirely identical processes. As firms invested
internationally, they shaped markets by transferring
brands and products, but they also had to respond
to those new markets. The ability of firms to dictate
was constrained by their need to be profitable, and
in a consumer products industry, profits came by offering
things consumers wanted to buy. Corporate advertising
 and marketing could certainly shape consumer preferences,
 but they were also shaped by inherited cultural and
 social norms which proved very resilient, even as globalization
 gathered pace (pp. 896-897, my emph.).

 

It is precisely this “shape-shaped” dialectic which explains how the “Amalia-type” would ultimately force the so-called dominant discourse of the mighty Unilever to be shaped by that local Greek “type”. Who, in this case, “provoked” whom? Similarly, who was the “intervener” and who the victim of “intervention”? For Jones – as also for our research methodology – these are not questions that remain open. Jones’ detailed analysis of the primary data (on the making and development of “brand names”, etc.), clearly shows that the “Amalia-type” was an agent in the rise of the Greek middle class milieu. Unilever both shaped and served such milieu.

Jones notes the variety of local factors which would force giants such as Unilever to ultimately give up their attempts at maintaining consistency in the homogenization of global advertizing discourse – based on his empirical analyses, he goes on to enumerate some of such factors:

“… firms needed to make their products
relevant to local consumers. Despite the
spread of an international consumer culture,
the markets for consumer products, whether
those were movies or laundry soap,
continued to exhibit local preferences
 reflective of inherited social and cultural values,
 linguistic differences, different climatic conditions
 and culinary traditions, differences in distribution
 systems, variations in political systems, and many
 other factors. The beauty industry, which sold
deeply personal products that were applied
to the body and affected personal confidence,
was an unlikely candidate for homogenization
… and so it proved” (p. 897, my emph.).

Unilever in 1960’s Greece would find itself incapable of responding – in terms of ideological discourse – to the material constraints which defined the Greek case – it was, at the time, simply impossible for any “LUX” advertizing discourse to be disengaged from the material “LUX-ury” which its semantics presupposed, and which had little to do with any «φτωχοπλυσταριό». On the other hand, Unilever advertizing discourse in Greece would gradually be moving away from its rigid understanding of the “norms” of beauty as a global stereotype and would more or less bend to the tastes of local popular ‘aesthetics’ regarding female beauty. Its new strategy can best be understood within the theoretical framework provided us by Jones. If it were local factors which had to be taken into account, and if beauty products had to be made relevant to these local factors, Unilever advertizing discourse would have no choice but move towards a customization of its brands, and this would take its own particular form in the Greek case. At a more general level, Jones writes:

 

“… as mass brands were internationalized …
they [firms] generally engaged in greater customization,
both in their formulation and marketing.
 Strikingly, toiletry companies such as … Unilever
 used local celebrities rather than Hollywood
 stars in their advertisements for mass-marketed
 products” (p. 898, my emph.).

The use of Greek local celebrities in promoting “LUX” toilet soap would be a first major shift in Unilever advertizing discourse. The shift would be determined by none other than the “Amalia-type”. Yet still, Unilever would be merely “compromising” – it would not, that is, be fully yielding to the tastes of such “type”. But the cultural-ideological struggle would definitely be unleashed, and it would only be by the 1970’s, as we shall see, that Unilever would further “compromise” its almost dogmatic clinging on to global “norms” informed by Hollywoodian “stars”.

Generally, we may say that Unilever would at first be gradually moving away from its use of actresses such as the all-American Welch to the much more ‘European’ Deneuve (or the all-Italian Loren) in its advertizing discourse promoting “LUX” toilet soap in Greece, thus using “norms” of beauty that were much closer to home as regards the tastes of the “Amalia-type”. But such adjustment would itself prove to be insufficient and it could only be the truly Greek celebrity which could directly speak to the tastes of any Amalia Eleftheriadou. Thus, the first major shift we are referring to would mean that Unilever would begin to use the truly all-Greek “star” Aliki Vougiouklaki in its local Greek discourse. We note how such discourse would initially be characterized by a “balance” between, on the one hand, the appeal to “Greekness” and, on the other, the persistence on the Hollywoodian element – the new discourse read as follows:

«… “Για την φροντίδα της ομορφιάς μου
έχω απόλυτη εμπιστοσύνη στο LUX”
λέει η Αλίκη Βουγιουκλάκη …
9 στους 10 αστέρες του Χόλλυγουντ φροντίζουν
την ομορφιά τους με σαπούνι τουαλέττας
LUX…» (cf., inter alia, «Έλαιον, ελέω Ιστορίας»,
3lyk-ioann.ioa.sch.gr, 2013-14, pp. 73-74).

As we can see, Unilever would here wish to combine its primordial Hollywoodian roots with the local preferences of a Greek ‘aesthetic taste’ which was as deeply rooted in the psyche of the Greek popular masses. That there had to be some such combination, presumably, was a product of its ‘imperialistic’ proclivity, and which was meant to subsume everything under the sun (the Greek sun, in this case) within the cultural ambit of those “9 Hollywood stars”. But Unilever as well suspected that the “Amalia-type” – her locally-bred cultural “thought and attention” – would focus on Vougiouklaki per se. The name and image of this Greek “star” would have had an overpowering effect on Amalia Eleftheriadou. Such effect is beyond doubt, and as such the Unilever decision that Vougiouklaki promote “LUX” was perfectly well-made. But the choice had been pressed onto the Unilever discourse. The firm was getting wiser – the “Amalia-type”, however, was asserting its own identity. What was it about the presence of Vougiouklaki within the “LUX” advertizing discourse which was to radically shift the semantics of such discourse? We here need to briefly refer to the socio-cultural content of the “symbol” of Vougiouklaki. Some of the basic pointers to such content would include the following:

  • Aliki Vougiouklaki, who was both actress and singer, was the first true “idol” in post-war Greece – she was nurtured within the Greek socio-cultural context and she was loved therein;
  • She was the “symbol” of a whole epoch in itself, such epoch being the middle class milieu and the hopes which such milieu harboured across all popular social strata, be these wage-earners, shopkeepers, small-time capitalists, etc.;
  • Her films of the 1960’s period reconstructed, portrayed and commented on the whole range of the morals and customs – the “ethos” per se – of Greek society;
  • She was, more specifically, the symbol of Greek feminine youth, and her films celebrated the whole of Greek youth;
  • Despite the wishes of her parents, she had secretly enrolled as a student of the «Δραματική Σχολή του Εθνικού Θεάτρου». Her decision to consciously by-pass parental control was a symbolic act which spoke deeply to Greek youth at the time, reinforcing as it did the socio-cultural rupture between the generations. Her decision to take up acting was itself an act of moral defiance, given that the profession of acting was then viewed as shameful by the majority of older Greeks. It was also a decision which reflected the hidden wishes of hundreds of thousands of Greek youth, many of whom dreamt of some niche in the world of the arts. Even the type of roles she would act symbolized the “sexy” young lady that the “Amalia-type” could empathize with;
  • By 1959, the authoritative newspaper Kathimerini, expressing the views of broad masses of people, would characterize Vougiouklaki as the «Εθνική Σταρ» (or “The National Star”). It was by no means an exaggeration.
  • To verify the above, we should note that her acting career was characterized by a long list of box office hits, some of her films breaking all records;
  • Further, Costas Gavras would state that Vougiouklaki was both a European and an international “phenomenon” in that no other actress had been as much loved and had been as popular amongst the Greek public for such a long period of time (stretching from the 1950’s and through to the 1990’s);
  • Vougiouklaki’s death in 1996 would be followed by a two-day national mourning.

It was this post-war transitionally value-laden “Greekness”, carrying with it the entire local “symbolism” which we have presented above, which would be inscribed in the advertizing discourse of “LUX” toilet soap. What, in fact, would Unilever be doing? The firm would be learning from and imitating the advertizing strategies of Leoussis, such strategies being expressive of the local wisdom of such man’s Greek advertizing firm. Interestingly, Leoussis had already been using Aliki Vougiouklaki in his legendary promotion of «ΦΙΞ» in the 1960’s (cf. above). Like Leoussis, the advertizing discourse of Unilever would ultimately have to compromise its initial, one-sided emphasis on the “American Dream” – it would have to adjust its discourse to the local semantics of a specifically “Greek Dream”, and as such “Dream” was symbolized by Greek popular idols such as Vougiouklaki. The choice of the Vougiouklaki idol would later on be followed by the use of other Greek “stars” in the promotion of the “LUX” toilet soap – one such example being Katia Dandoulaki, an actress, fashion model and recording artist who was especially popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

This historical process of discourse adjustment, whereby mass brands would constitute a terrain of ideological struggle based on uneasy compromises and a continual shift in the balance of forces, has been identified by the research work of Geoffrey Jones – in his own way, he would describe such historical process as follows:

“… localization [of mass brands] reflected the
 substantial regional and national differences
 which persisted even in neighboring developed
 countries for the consumption of beauty
products” (p. 898, my emph.).

For the Greek case, “localization” would mean the pursuing of the specifically “Greek Dream”. In the 1960’s, however, such “Dream” would be beset by serious material constraints to which Unilever advertizing discourse would still remain quite insensitive. The ideological adjustment we are referring to would definitely occur (as we have shown), but it would do so in a manner which only partly expressed the Greek reality of the “Amalia-type”. As yet, the consumer presence of the latter still remained too weak, incohesive and disorganized to have had a truly radical effect on the Unilever discourse. The later balance of forces tilting towards the consumer-as-social subject, which would ensue by the 1970’s and 1980’s, had yet to fully crystallize.

Thus, while Unilever would shift towards the adoption of local “symbols” in its advertizing discourse, such discourse would insist on a “star-system” heaped in the semantics of an other-worldly imagery of luxurious representations which remained, to say the least, meaningless to the Greek popular masses. The very concept of “Luxing”-qua-way-of-life encapsulates such problematic advertizing paradigm. To the extent that the concept of “Luxing” presupposed a practice per se, whereby the person who used “LUX” did so in material conditions approximating “luxury”, such concept could only but have “provoked” the “Amalia-type” in a negative manner. The “Greek Dream” of the latter was only just beginning to unfold, and its materialization meant long hours of hard work in medium-sized factories such as the A&M Mill: the content of such “Dream” was to urgently secure the basic material necessities of “modern” survival. The very name of the toilet soap, “LUX”, which – as mentioned – predisposed one to think of “luxury”, or of “light”, could not have constituted any positive material content capable of reinforcing the “Greek Dream” of the “Amalia-type”: the material gap between that “Dream” and the “luxury” and “light” of the “American Dream” would in fact never be fully bridged, at least as regards the 1960’s and 1970’s. Specifically as regards the 1960’s, there could have been neither “luxury” nor “light” given the material realities of what Kitsikis (op. cit.) had called «τρωγλοδύτεςν».

At this point, therefore, we need to further dwell on the limits of adjustment of the “LUX” advertizing discourse as regards the Greek case for the period of the 1960’s. To fully comprehend such limits, we need to contrast the manner in which Unilever would adjust its discourse to the material conditions of, say, Germany and Britain, while it would ignore those of Greece. This positive response to the material conditions of the German and British consumer in the 1960’s – and which tells us much about the social power of such consumer at the time – is quite reminiscent of the manner in which the Philips company had itself responded to the needs of the American consumer in the post-war period (by blotting out its own “brand name” in the eyes of the American public – cf. above), while fully ignoring the real needs of the Greek popular masses as regards the use of an electric shaver. Consumer power in Germany and Britain would fully shift the “balance of discourse” and the degree of “compromise” within these countries on the part of Unilever, and would do so in a manner which could not have happened in 1960’s Greece.

How did Unilever advertizing discourse respond to the particular material conditions of Germany and Britain? In a dissertation submitted to the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki in 2009, K. Thanasoula and M-S. Stavrou make the following observations (and which run parallel to those of Geoffrey Jones):

«Σε μία καμπάνια του σαπουνιού LUX
που εμφανίστηκε στη Γερμανία, η διαφήμιση
έδειχνε μια διάσημη γυναίκα να μπαίνει στο
ντους, ενώ στην Αγγλία η αντίστοιχη διαφήμιση,
παρουσίαζε την ίδια γυναίκα, να χρησιμοποιεί
το σαπούνι στην μπανιέρα. Το γεγονός αυτό,
έδειχνε τη διαφορά των δύο Χωρών, όπου οι
Γερμανοί προτιμούν ένα ντους, ενώ οι Άγγλοι
ένα μπάνιο στην μπανιέρα» (cf. K. Thanasoula &
M-S. Stavrou, «Η ιστορία της τηλεοπτικής
διαφήμισης», πτυχιακή εργασία, Αλεξάνδρειο
ΤΕΙ Θεσσαλονίκης, Σχολή Διοίκησης και
Οικονομίας, Τμήμα Εμπορίας και Διαφήμισης,
Θεσσαλονίκη, 2009, pp. 86-87).

We see here that Unilever advertizing discourse would, not only respect, understand and adjust to the socio-cultural practices of Germany and Britain – it would also respond to the particular material manifestations (shower or bath) of such socio-cultural practices. That was the form that the Unilever multinational marketing strategy would take pertaining to such relatively more ‘developed’ countries. Both Germany and Britain, of course were characterized by robust, well-organized civil societies: their working classes, themselves consumerist-orientated, were represented by powerful labour unions and well-entrenched political organizations such as the Labour Party in Britain and the Social Democrats in Germany. Such cohesion would force Unilever advertizing discourse to submit to local national socio-economic practices and their material manifestations. In the case of 1960’s Greece, in contrast, “LUX” advertizing discourse would ignore the fact that the popular masses had no access either to a shower or a bath, bar their «σκάφη» or their «φτωχοπλυσταριό». In that sense, Unilever advertizing discourse in Greece at the time would remain “provocative”.

But such “provocation” could not last for long. As Greece would itself undergo a process of industrialization in the 1960’s, yielding some form of dependent economic development, consumer consciousness would come to dominate within the Greek middle class milieu itself and which would gain an impetus by the  1970’s. Such impetus – and which would even be expressed politically – would set its own demands. The generalized socio-economic developments of the 1970’s, not only with respect to Greece, would force Unilever advertizing discourse to adjust to the varying levels of urbanization and the material manifestations of such relative urbanization of each specific geographical locality.

As we have seen, Geoffrey Jones has shown the limits of whatever “globalized ideals of beauty” pertaining to the 1960’s: local “norms”, in the last instance, had to be considered simply because traditional values persisted. But Jones goes further and examines how advertizing discourse would ultimately also have to take into consideration the material manifestations of industrialization, and how such manifestations would be expressive of a new localized taste. With respect to the decade of the 1960’s and thereafter, he draws the following conclusions:

“While the need to be “clean”, and not to
smell, became a social norm across social classes
in all developed [or developing] countries …,
societies continued to differ widely in which
products they used, and how frequently they
used them…” (pp. 899-900).

Elsewhere, we have seen how the whole issue of “body smell” would concern Greek youth of the 1960’s and which could run counter to the romantic or erotic urges of young ladies such as Velica Vozini in the period of the Military Dictatorship. We have dwelt on how one of her lovers «βρωμούσε ιδρώτα αφόρητα» and we tried to relate this to a symptom which had plagued Greeks at that time, that of «βρωμίδρωσις» (cf. our papers on “romanticism” and the 1960’s Greek “sexual revolution”). Perhaps we should note here that, interestingly, the issue of “body smell” was not only limited to Greece or to certain European countries in the 1960’s. A government official of a certain Latin American country, flying economy class over Miami and sitting next to a young lady with a not too pleasant smell, would find himself reacting as follows: «… περιορίστηκε να περιμένει όσο να περάσει η ώρα και αναρωτιόταν αν οι αμερικανικές διαφημίσεις δεν προειδοποιούσανε πια για τις βλαβερές συνέπειες της δυσωδίας του σώματος και της δυσοσμίας του στόματος…» (cf. J.K. Galbraith, Ο Θρίαμβος», Εκδόσεις Παπαζήση, 1969, pp. 161-162).

But the point is that Greek teenagers were certainly becoming sensitive to and highly conscious of the issue of personal odour, and which would lead them to the regular consumption of a product such as “LUX” toilet soap. Material conditions were changing by the mid-1960’s and on, and so were tastes. It is at this point, Jones argues, that Unilever advertizing discourse would have no choice but respond to the local material conditions of a particular country or geographical region. He writes:

“… firms had to adapt to different cultural
values, and variations in urbanization levels,
access to piped water, and the availability
and nature of washing facilities” (p. 900,
my emph.).

Specifically with reference to Unilever’s “LUX” toilet soap, Jones continues:

“… even in cases when brand positioning
was consistent, such as Unilever’s LUX
toilet soap, product formulation was usually
adapted to local conditions” (p. 901).

Unilever had to adapt its product formulations to local conditions given, inter alia, –

“local consumer preferences for scents,
colors, and other features. The upshot was
that the same brand product often looked
and smelt very differently in different
countries” (ibid.).

Given developments in the material infrastructures of countries such as Greece, and given the variations in urbanization levels in the region, Unilever would ultimately have to yield to radical innovations in its advertizing discourse as also in the synthesis of its products. As regards the latter, we have not been able to obtain any specific data as to changes in the synthesis of the “LUX” toilet soap sold to Greeks (and in any case a technical examination of the chemical constituents of a bar of soap lies well beyond the limits of our study). But we do know, following Jones, that constituents would be determined by the raw materials available in a particular geographical region. Further, it is possible that the “LUX” toilet soap meant for the Greek popular masses could have been manufactured in a manner that gave it a ‘strong’ aroma so as to compensate for symptoms such as «βρωμίδρωσι» mentioned above (but that definitely remains to be verified by both specialists and users alike). Finally, we simply note that Unilever would ultimately have to stick to the manufacturing of products «με θετική κοινωνική επίδραση» (cf. www.unilever.gr.).

Now, as regards Unilever’s advertizing discourse, we could definitely say that it was destined to undergo truly radical changes. The central most important change in advertizing discourse may be put as follows: by the 1970’s, advertisements promoting “LUX” toilet soap would address themselves to the anonymous everyday consumer – such “anonymity” would allow for an open ideological space wherein consumers could recognize themselves and their own particular material conditions according to their own choice and wishes. Such self-recognition and self-regulation vis-à-vis the “open” semantics of the “LUX” advertizing discourse is of course somewhat reminiscent of what Habermas had referred to as «μια αυτορρυθμιζόμενη ατομοποίηση» (cf. Habermas, op. cit, p. 424).

The process of change in discourse would be gradual, uneven and at times contradictory. The very first symptoms of such new-found semantics had already begun to appear in the USA itself by the 1940’s and 1950’s, although here especially contradictions would persist. Any random examination of “LUX” advertisements circulating in the USA at the time will show that Unilever’s strategy was to “build relevance” by looking at beauty through the eyes of the consumer. While still retaining the “star element”, the focus would shift to the consumer per se and to the role of the brand in that consumer’s life (and cf., inter alia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unilever). At that time and place, the persistence on retaining elements of “stardom” would constitute the major internal contradiction – and the as yet faltering steps – of the Unilever discourse. But the first necessary shift would have taken place and when, by the 1970’s, changing rhythms of urbanization would become apparent in countries such as Greece, Unilever would be ready to respond to the manner in which the “Amalia-type” would see the role of soap in her own life.

In the Greek case, Unilever’s first ideological compromise had been to shift from the use of “global icons of beauty” to those of all-Greek “icons” such as Vougiouklaki. That had constituted a victory for Amalia Eleftheriadou, at least as regards her identity as a young Greek woman. The second shift – that of allowing her to see a bar of soap through her own eyes and through the spectrum of her own material conditions – would constitute yet another victory for her own person. Now, such victory would concern her identity as a young working person striving to overcome the material consequences and miseries of poverty. The open “anonymity” of “LUX” advertizing discourse in the 1970’s would allow her to regulate her own relationship to the brand, and she would undertake such self-regulation in the context of her prevailing material conditions.

Thus, by the decade of the 1970’s and on, Unilever advertizing discourse promoting the “LUX” toilet soap in Greece – as elsewhere – would be characterized by a dominant trend which would admit the following salient factors of an irrepressible reality:

  • “Natural Beauty” would be seen as an attainable goal for all women – such “Natural Beauty”, further, would have to be symbolized by the “anonymous” consumer and would thus establish an open space for self-regulation whereby local taste and national preferences could be determined by the “Amalia-type” itself;
  • The implication is that we would have a shift from the abstract representations of beauty (“Natural” in its global form) to the concrete representations of beauty (“Natural” in its national-local form);
  • As such, the “star feeling”, which had been tailing “LUX” advertizing discourse for so many years, would finally collapse – thereby, the assumed material conditions of the “Amalia-type” would no longer be taken as a pre-given fact imposed onto a local fantasy stretched to unrealistic limits;
  • The “Amalia-type” would be given the freedom of choice to determine her own fantasies, and as such fantasies were being delimited by the constraints of her own material reality;
  • In the last instance, “that star feeling” would give way to the down-to-earth everywoman;
  • By the 1980’s, the use of the “LUX” toilet soap by the Greek popular masses would be reduced to a matter-of-fact everyday habit devoid of whatever socio-cultural and ‘ideological’ pretensions of social status – it was taken for granted that the “average” Greek who made up the middle class milieu would have to carry about a body that would simply not smell. Even blue-collar workers would wash themselves thoroughly after work, and even young farmers in the rural areas would do the exact same thing. For all such people, the use of the “LUX” bar of soap (as also other brands such as “CLOVE”, a Unilever product as well) would become an unconscious-habitual ritual of their everyday lives. But especially for the young, it was no mere hygienic ritual: in fact, it was almost an unconscious compulsion meant to meet the demands of the ever-broiling “sexual revolution”. Especially for young ladies of the “Amalia-type”, who were especially concerned with their own physical beauty, the unconscious ritual would mesh with a conscious determination to satisfy the competing standards of local sensuality, and “LUX” would constitute just one of the means to satisfy such end (cf. our paper on Greek beauty as a popular cultural practice in the 1960’s).

One could adopt a slightly different approach in trying to interpret the historical processes we have sketched above, and which would run parallel to what has been already said. One may argue that when, by the 1970’s, Greek women could finally “live” the so-called “luxing” experience in their own bathrooms, but in its specifically Greek version, the Unilever advertizing discourse would shift its focus on “stars” to that of the “everywoman”. Prior to that, in the 1960’s, the “LUX” advertizing discourse would limit itself to specific target groups (much as “PHILISHAVE” had done) and would thus focus exclusively on “stardom”. At the same time, it would at that stage “provoke” the rest of the popular masses.

The move from merely targeting groups which constituted the Greek politico-economic élites to a veritable democratization in the use of the “LUX” toilet soap – and the concomitant ‘democratization’ of the discourse itself – would not only be a manifestation of a change in objective conditions. It would also be a by-product of specific subjective initiatives. As we know, it would also be a consequence of the emerging dialogue that would take place between Unilever’s local advertizing agency in Greece and the ΕΔΕΕ structures headed by Leoussis in the 1970’s. We have already noted that Unilever’s local advertizing agency, “LINTAS: HELLAS”, would be established in 1970 as a member of ΕΔΕΕ. As a subsidiary of the global LINTAS – which was the Lever Brothers’ own advertizing agency – “LINTAS: HELLAS” would join up with ΕΔΕΕ structures and such intra-structural cooperation would have a specific effect on the manner in which “LUX” toilet soap would be promoted in Greece by the 1970’s. We would thus have a fusion between LINTAS ‘global’ discourse and LINTAS ‘local’ discourse, the latter being rendered dominant as a result of the adjusting democratization of discourse as overdetermined by local socio-cultural conditions.

We shall end our examination of the “LUX” toilet soap case by summarizing our most basic findings, and as such findings have been interpreted from the angle of a historical sociology:

  • The very first stage in the evolution of the “LUX” advertizing discourse in Greece had been characterized by a focus on all-American, abstractly “global” symbols of “stardom” and “beauty”;
  • The second stage would constitute a shift to a lower level of abstraction whereby the “global” symbols of “beauty” would be dislocated and be replaced by “symbols” more expressive of the region to which Greece belonged – i.e. European paradigms of female “beauty”;
  • The third stage would be a further shift whereby all abstract levels of “symbolic beauty” would be abandoned and would give way to specifically “local”/Greek paradigms of “beauty”. Yet still, the ideology of “stardom” – and its indirect connotations of “Hollywoodian” culture – would persist, though this time only from a safe ideological/cultural distance;
  • The fourth stage, while at times still insinuating the ideology of “stardom”, would finally come to abandon whatever pre-determined standards of “beauty” and would focus on the “anonymous everywoman”. This would free the latter of all imposed constraints as to what constituted “beauty” and as to the material conditions which were supposed to envelope it. It would thereby allow the subject to self-regulate  itself (in the Habermas sense) vis-à-vis the representations it received via the advertizing discourse of “LUX”.
  • These shifts from the “global” to the “regional”, and then from the “regional” to the “local”, and finally to the open-ended “anonymity” of the individual, would have radical repercussions as regards the identity of any one member belonging to the collective “Amalia-type”. Amalia Eleftheriadou would henceforth view herself from within the discourse and would recognize her own “personal beauty” through such discourse. Alternatively, however, she would henceforth also have the freedom to recognize her possible absence of “beauty” as well, but this time vis-à-vis “standards of beauty” primarily established by her own grassroots community (it would be the open-ended “anonymity” in the discourse which would allow for that);
  • Such grassroots “standards” would be the product of a long and complex chain of mediations, starting from the “global”, through to the “regional” and the “local”, and ultimately coming down to the area of Aliarto wherein the community would decide for itself who it was that would constitute a “beautiful” female. As we have seen in examining the case of the A&M Headquarters “Clerk-Cashier” (cf. our paper on the working life of this employee), it would be the young Miss Mathioudaki whom Aliartians would view as their own “Miss Greece”. The “Amalia-type”, therefore, would recognize her own “beauty”/absence of “beauty” – within the “anonymity” of the “LUX” advertizing discourse – by measuring herself up against the local “idols” of her community, at least one such “idol” being Miss Mathioudaki (and who also happened to be Marakis’ niece, a fact which would of course augment her personal prestige). In that sense, therefore, the “LUX” advertizing discourse of the 1970’s and 1980’s would come to be an ‘open space’ for decision-making (on the part of both the grassroots community and the individual) as to identity and personal self-evaluation. It would not, then, be a usurper of the identity and self-evaluation of the Greek popular masses following the period of the 1960’s.

Of course, any expert on the history of advertizing – as is Geoffrey Jones himself (and especially with reference to his work on Unilever) – could point out that the step-by-step ‘evolution’ of the “LUX” advertizing discourse which we have delineated above is a dire oversimplification of how things actually unfolded. But we do not pretend to write a history of the matter – rather, our purpose has been to identify the general, essential trends of “LUX” advertizing discourse, and to draw the necessary sociological conclusions. Our findings have shown that the Unilever discourse promoting “LUX” toilet soap in countries such as Greece had moved towards a “localization” of such discourse and, in time, towards the discourse-“anonymity” of individual customization and consumer self-regulation. The research work of Jones generally confirms such an understanding. Specifically as regards the Greek case, we have tried to show that the impetus of the 1970’s and 1980’s middle class milieu would force Unilever to address itself to the mass trends of urbanization, and as such urbanization would have a massive impact on the socio-cultural practices of the Greek “periphery” itself (Aliarto included). Similarly, Unilever would be addressing itself to the new variations of urbanization across much of the world. At the same time, all such variations in the ‘developed’ or ‘developing’ countries would converge ideologically by placing the individual (Habermas’ «ατομοποίηση») in command. In Greece, too, it would be the individuated so-called “anonymous consumer” who would come to dominate in the advertizing discourse promoting “LUX”. Such ideological convergence, however, would not mean the reduction of the individual to any “global mass norm”, which is in any case a mere conceptual myth. It would be the local consumer preferences of Greeks which would be expressed through what we have identified as the open-ended “anonymity” of “LUX” advertizing, such “anonymity” – as we have tried to show – allowing the individual to enjoy a terrain of freedom wherein he could impress both his individuality, and his “modernity”, as also his “Greekness”. That terrain, however, was a child of the “Amalia-type”.

--------------------------

In examining that type of advertizing discourse which we have categorized as “provocative- interventionist”, we have tried to show how even such type of discourse could itself often evolve in ways which suggested attempts at “compromise” and “adjustment”, and which verify the participative presence of the “Amalia-type” within the nuances of such ideological texts and structures. But by that we do not mean to diminish the real presence of a culturally imperialist “provocation” and “intervention” on the part of advertizing giants – and their local imitators – in Greece, and at least for the period we are focusing on. We shall end this section on “provocative-interventionism” by merely presenting two final samples of advertizing in Greece at the time which certainly do represent the arrogance of a cultural imperialism imposed on a dependent country such as Greece.

The first case concerns an advertisement promoting a washing product, «ΡΙΒΕΞ», which had been circulated by the periodical Romantso in 1964. We shall not attempt an analysis of its discourse – we merely want to highlight the manner in which its semantics constituted a degradation of the “Amalia-type’s” past. It read as follows:

«Όταν κάνετε την Μπουγάδα χωρίς ΡΙΒΕΞ,
όπως την κάνατε μέχρι χθες ή όπως την έκαναν
την εποχή της Γιαγιάς σας, τότε: Κούρασις,
Ξεμέσιασμα… Κυρία μου, Δεσποινίς μου,
οδηγείτε αυτοκίνητο; Αν οδηγούσατε…, θα
θέλατε να σας δουν οι φίλες σας (άσπονδες ή
όχι) με ένα παλαιό αυτοκίνητο, της εποχής της
γιαγιάς σας;… Ασφαλώς όχι! Γιατί λοιπόν εξακολουθείτε
να κάνετε Μπουγάδα;… Ένα φακελλάκι ΡΙΒΕΞ [would
mean] Άνεσις, Πολιτισμός, Μοντέρνα Νοικοκυρά…»
(cf. Ρομάντσο, τεύχ. 1107, 19.5.1964).

The second case is perhaps even more riveting in its “provocation”, and it constituted a degradation of what was then the “Amalia-type’s” present. This 1964 advertisement, promoting the learning of foreign languages via “LINGUAPHONE”, went as follows:

«Όχι πια βουβοί μπροστά στους ξένους –
Όχι πια σύμπλεγμα κατωτερότητος!...
“Η αξία του ανθρώπου είναι ανάλογη προς
τις γλώσσες που γνωρίζει” – CHARLES QUINT,
1500 – 1558… LINGUAPHONE…»
(cf. Romantso, No 1100, 31.3.1964).

The first sample above is a perfect example of how the “Amalia-type’s” past would be degraded to the status of a primitive anachronism. The latter sample is an as perfect example of the type of discourse insinuating a supposed inferiority complex on the part of Greeks when facing foreigners. We have already identified such forms of “provocative- interventionism” in the advertizing discourse of the period and have tried to gauge the responses of the “Amalia-type”.

Our two central terms in this sub-section have of course been “provocative” and “interventionist”. One could not pretend that these two terms constitute “concepts” in the strict sense of the word. But perhaps it is useful to note that these two essentially descriptive terms actually sprouted from our empirical examination of the raw material at hand. Very simply, we came across a series of advertisements that seemed to do just that: they “provoked” the Greek sentiment and they tried to “intervene” in the everyday lives of the Greek popular masses.

But what turned out to be of some interest to us is that both such terms would be corroborated by an independent study on the “foreign element” in Greek life, published in 1982, but which only came to our attention well after our research work was done. In his excellent book, Επιχειρήματα για τη γλώσσα, για τη λογοτεχνία (Βιβλιοπωλείον της Εστίας), Nikos Fokas comes up with the terms «πρόκληση» (p. 28) and «εισβολή» (p. 29) in examining the functions of foreign discourse within the Greek socio-cultural context. The Greek word «πρόκληση», of course, means “provocation”. Fokas’ «εισβολή» may be translated as “invasion” or “violent entry”, and in the context of ideological discourse clearly suggests “intervention”.

For Fokas, the foreign «πρόκληση» and «εισβολή» actually come to ‘infect’ both the urban “centers” and the rural “peripheries” of Greece. Our own findings, focusing on a semi-urban area such as Aliarto, certainly confirm his observations. But it is as important to note that, for Fokas, such ‘infection’ never comes to constitute a “totalitarian system” successfully imposed onto the socio-cultural practices of European countries. Such a position reinforces our own approach as regards Greece in particular: we have argued throughout that whatever the so-called ‘infection’ of “provocative-interventionism”, its permeation would always be delimited and checked by the “Amalia-type” as a historical subject. We have seen how certain “ideological spaces” within advertizing discourse would be taken over by the presence of that “Amalia-type”. This absence of any ideological “totalitarianism” on the part of the “foreign element” – and which in effect demonstrates the limits of a discourse such as that of “LINGUAPHONE” in Greece – has been expressed by Fokas as follows:

«… επειδή ακριβώς ο παραδοσιακός περίγυρος
δεν έχει καταστραφεί με την κερδοσκοπική
αγριότητα που έχει καταστραφεί στην Αθήνα
και πολλές επαρχιακές πόλεις, οι ξένες επιγραφές
μοιάζουν σαν συνεσταλμένοι επισκέπτες σε
παλαιό αρχοντικό και απέχουν πάρα πολύ από
του να είναι το ολοκληρωτικό καθεστώς προς το
οποίο τείνουν στο Κολωνάκι…» (p. 27).

It is quite true that Fokas himself is much more ‘pessimistic’ as regards the Greek case – but we need to understand that his is an emotional reaction as he lived the shock of the dramatic changes that were modernizing the Greek economy and the new “forms of life” which accompanied this. By the 1980’s, in any case, the Greek socio-cultural landscape would be a complex mesh of “traditionalism” and “Western modernity” (and many would find such a mesh bewildering, to say the least).The psyche of the maturing “Amalia-type” would encapsulate just that mesh, leaving little room for intellectual romanticism, be that of the “Left” or of the “Right” (with which Fokas seems to have identified).

But it cannot be overemphasized that the “provocative-interventionism” of the “foreign element” which Fokas had himself identified only constituted the one side of advertizing discourse in Greece. There was, at the same time, that other category of advertizing discourse which was fully adjusted to and accurately expressive of the socio-cultural a priori of Greece. It is to that category of discourse which we shall now turn.

GLOSSARY

NOTES:
● «… δεν έχουν αίσθημα μέσα τους… οι Αμερικάνοι»: Americans have no feelings inside them
● «ΑΝΑΒΕΙ»: literally means that it sets alight – in the sense that it sexually arouses or provokes
● «Αντιδήμαρχος Θήβας»: Deputy Mayor of Thebes (or Thiva)
● «αντιδραστικότητα»: reactionaryism
● «ασθένειες των φτωχών»: the illnesses of the poor
● «βουτυρομπεμπέδες»: slang, similar to milksop (suggesting a feeble, ineffectual person)
● «βρωμίδρωση»: literally translated, the term means ‘sweat stink’
● «βρωμούσε ιδρώτα αφόρητα»: he stank unbearably of sweat
● «για πάντα»: forever
● «για σύγχρονους»/ «για μοντέρνους ανθρώπους»: for modern man
● «Δεν ζήτε στον παληό καιρό… για να χρησιμοποιήτε αναχρονιστικές μεθόδους»: you no longer live in the old days – so you can no longer use anachronistic methods (free translation)
● «δημόσιο αίσθημα»: public sentiment
● «Δραματική Σχολή του Εθνικού Θεάτρου»: Drama School – National Theatre of Greece
● «ΔΩΡΟ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΥ»: a gift expressive of civilization
● «ΔΩΡΟ»: gift
● «Είμαστε λαός τρωγλοδυτών»: we are a nation of troglodytes (or cave dwellers)
● «είναι βαθύ, αποτελεσματικό στο κόψιμο του γενιού»: it offers a deep, effective shave (free translation)
● «εισβολή»: invasion, incursion, infestation
● «εξάπτω τις ερωτικές επιθυμίες»: kindle the erotic desires
● «ερεθίζω»: sexually arouse
● «Ερευνα της αγοραστικής συμπεριφοράς των νέων ανδρών σε σχέση με τα προϊόντα περιποίησης δέρματος του προσώπου»: “A survey of the consumer behaviour of young males with respect to facial skin care products”.
● «ευτελή»: worthless, cheap
● «ΖΗΤΕ ΣΤΟ 1900 ‘Η ΣΤΟ 1963;»: do you live in the year 1900 or in 1963?
● «η εποχή μας»: our epoch
● «ιστορικότητα»: historicity
● «καθημερινό καθήκον»: daily duty
● «και απλουστεύει τη ζωή»: and it makes life that much simpler (free translation)
● «καταλήξατε κι’ εσείς»: (like the Hollywood stars), you too come to using the LUX soap (free translation)
● «Κέντρον Διανομής Γάλακτος»: Milk Distribution Centre
● «ΚΟΜΨΑ»/ «ΓΕΡΑ»: elegant/sound and sturdy, in describing a fridge
● «κρίσιμες ημέρες»: the critical days
● «λιτή κουζίνα»: frugal cuisine
● «λιτοδίαιτο»: abstemious/dietary foods
● «μαγκιά»: there is no accurate translation for this term in English – it describes the behaviour of a male who is streetwise, cool, proud and “heavy” in demeanour; he is usually a heavy smoker and hard drinker, hangs around with likeminded individuals, etc.
● «με θετική κοινωνική επίδραση»: with a positive social effect/impact
● «μεταπολεμική ξενική επίδραση»: postwar foreign influence/impact
● «μια αυτορρυθμιζόμενη ατομοποίηση»: a self-regulating individuation
● «ΝΟΜΑΡΧΙΑ ΒΟΙΩΤΙΑΣ»: Prefecture of Boeotia
● «νοοτροπία»: mentality, mindset
● «Ξεκινώντας το πρωί νηστικοί υπονομεύετε την υγεία σας»: Starting your day on an empty stomach undermines your health (free translation); «υπονόμευση» is the noun for undermining, or the weakening of something (the term appears elsewhere in the text)
● «Ξύπνα ρε, αυτή η χώρα που ζούμε είναι το πιο ανώμαλο ρήμα του κόσμου… Βούρλο!»: “Wake up, man, this country we live in is the most irregular verb in the world… Damn fool!” (free translation – the term “irregular verb” obviously suggesting something abnormal and irrational)
● «Ο μύθος του Σινάτρα»: the myth of Sinatra (or the “Sinatra myth”)
● «Ολη η Υφήλιος γελάει»: the whole world is laughing
● «Οπωσδήποτε, οι Ευρωπαίοι απολαμβάνουν μαζί με τους Αμερικανούς αυτές τις καινοτομίες,… ζεστό νερό και την πρίζα για ξυριστική μηχανή στο λουτρό του ξενοδοχείου τους…»: “Definitely, the Europeans – together with their American counterparts – enjoy these innovations… hot running water and a plug for their electric shaver in the w.c. of their hotel”.
● «όταν θυμώνει…»: when he gets angry
● «παγιωμένες διατροφικές συνήθειες»: entrenched/well-established dietary habits
● «πλούσιο και απαλό αφρό»: rich and soft foam/froth
● «πολυτέλεια περιττή»: an unnecessary luxury
● «προκαλώ ερωτικό πόθο»: provokes erotic desire
● «πρόκληση»: provocation
● «ΠΡΟΣΤΑΣΙΑ»: protection
● «Ρουμπίνη»: Roubini or Ruby, it being a predominantly feminine name, after the name of the gemstone ruby
● «σ’ αυτά τα χάλια»: in such a mess
● «Σαββατόβραδο»: Saturday night
● «σκάφες»: washboards/ washing troughs
● «σόφτεξ»: softex, brand name; product of Greek paper towel company
● «ΣΤΙΣ ΠΙΟ ΑΝΕΠΤΥΓΜΕΝΕΣ ΧΩΡΕΣ, ΤΟ ΠΡΟΓΕΥΜΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΑΝΤΑ ΚΟΥΑΚΕΡ»: in the more developed countries, breakfast is always Quakers
● «συμπύκνωση… της ιστορικής συγκυρίας»: a condensation of the historical conjuncture
● «συντηρητικής κοινής γνώμης»: conservative public opinion
● «συντηρητικότητα»: conservatism
● «Τεντιμποϊσμο»: Teddyboyism
● «ΥΠΕΡ-ΕΥΘΥΜΗ»: super hilarious (free translation)
● «Υπουργό Υγείας και Πρόνοιας»: Minister of Health and Welfare
● «φτωχοπλυσταριό»: poor laundry room (free translation)
● «χαζοαμερικάνοι»: dumb Americans
● «χαρτοβάμβακα»: cellulose wadding, napkins made of such material, for purposes of hygiene
● «χωρότητα»: spatiality

THE “ADJUSTED” ADVERTIZING DISCOURSE: AN EXAMINATION OF SOME SAMPLES

That type of advertizing discourse belonging to the “provocative-interventionist” category, and which mainly characterized the promotional strategies of certain multinational corporations, would share one essential common perspective with that of the Quixotic ultra-Left “one-dimensionalist”/anti-“totalitarian” political philosophy which had emerged in the post-war period: both would agree that the popular masses are reducible to a marketized logic. Such common perspective would mean that both would find themselves selling their ‘products’ to limited élite markets – in the case of a company such as Philips, its “PHILISHAVE” would be used by the educated upper-middle classes; in the case of a writer such as Marcuse, his books would be read by smallish circles of the student community. If, in the case of “PHILISHAVE”, the vast masses of Greeks did not use the electric shaver, it was because such masses supposedly belonged to the year 1900 (a “flawed” consumer). If, in the case of Marcuse, the vast majority of people took to consumerism, it was because such people were supposedly “alienated” (a “flawed” society). In the case of the latter, the marketized logic would become ingrained in the “false” consciousness of the masses. In the case of the former, the marketized logic would finally be ingrained in the minds of the masses when these would attain a certain maturity.

Both “provocative-interventionism” and the ultra-Left would view the consumer as an abstract category. Such abstract category would be composed of an amorphous mass of individuals which could be moved and manipulated by the surgical engineering of a market logic. For them, the masses were reducible to that market logic and its market values. At the same time, there was that other viewpoint, explainable in terms of the needs, functions and experiences of those who espoused it, that the consumer was a concrete subject constituting the popular masses of a specific society. Such concrete subject was not at all amorphous: it was the carrier of cultural values (Jung’s definition of “a people”) and was therefore characterized, not by any mechanical market logic, but by a socio-cultural logic. In this case, the consumer was acknowledged as a citizen-consumer, and one could not talk his language unless one was part of that citizen’s socio-cultural logic. Manipulation, provocation and the attempt to intervene in the consumer habits of the popular masses were, in this case, considered to be dysfunctional – here, the emphasis was on the attempt to express and condense (à la Leoussis) the tastes of the consumer in one’s promotional discourse. Such condensation would mean that the advertizing discourse would have to adjust to the socio-cultural realities of the consumer.

There are two clarificatory points that need to be made here: Firstly, “adjustment” would not necessarily mean that the product being promoted and the advertizing discourse promoting it would be invariably stifled by a conservative anachronism shying away from any “modernistic” innovation. The innovative element was almost always potentially present, but would here take the form of an organic outgrowth which would recognize and dialectically interact with the socio-cultural logic of the concrete consumer. Such policy in the “market idea” of a product could be adopted by both local companies and international corporations (and we have seen this happening even in the case of advertizing discourse that had originally commenced from a rigid “provocative-interventionist” consistency). If, in the last instance, local products – such as those of IZOLA – would ultimately lose out in the competitive tug-of-war with companies such as KELVINATOR, that would really have nothing to do with the “adjustment” philosophy in the advertizing discourse (or with localist “adjustments” in the composition of a product) – we well know that it would be the pre-given unevenness in the international division of labour (and the technological superiority of certain capital formations) which would determine who would be the losers and who the winners in the field of manufacturing. “Adjustment” in the semantics of advertizing discourse was, in fact, a reality recognized by whoever wanted to enter and grow in the local mass market of any country or region.Any specialist in advertizing discourse would of course know full well that not all of life can be marketized, and that there are certain grassroots values that cannot be simply crowded out (that, at least, was the case for the period we are examining).

The second point we need to make here concerns the question as to why certain companies would be more inclined to opt for “adjustment” rather than “provocation” and “intervention” in their promotional tactics. We have already tried to explain such divergence in advertizing strategies, and which we have related to the issues of “marketing mix”, the well-entrenched power of globally carved out markets securing the luxury for risk-taking, etc. Here, we simply wish to point out that the question as to who “provokes” and who “adjusts” has absolutely nothing to do with value-judgments rejecting certain companies as “imperialistic” and accepting certain others as “patriotic”, etc. As we shall see in examining advertizing discourse of the “adjusting” variety, such strategy would be determined by the specific material needs, locally-determined functions and history of the companies that would adopt such advertizing policy. Such factors would not render these companies either “good” or “bad” – but it would also not render them either “anachronistic” or “progressive”, or at least not necessarily so.

For the period under discussion, it would be elements of Greek endogenous non-monopoly capital (manufacturing or commercial, or those that combined both functions) which would more accurately capture and express the socio-cultural logic and values of the young and quickly maturing “Amalia-type”. Much of such capital would, in more ways than one, be a socio-economic outgrowth of such “type”. Its specific class interests, as capital, would of course be different to those of the “Amalia-type”, who was a wage-earner. In the specific case of local commercial capital, its economic interests, while different from those of the “Amalia-type”, would nonetheless not be directly contradictory. Endogenous non-monopoly commercial capital would patiently wait and wish for the rising consumer power of the “Amalia-type”. It would try to meet such consumer power in terms of a promotional discourse which adjusted market logic to the socio-cultural logic of the concrete “Amalia-type”. In fact, both commercial and even local manufacturing capitals were themselves immersed in the cultural values of the up and coming Greek middle class milieu. While profit-making would be their exclusive target, Greek retailers knew that the best way in which they could make such profits would be to stick to and further articulate an ideological discourse spoken fluently by both them and the “Amalia-type”.

An excellent example of such local retail capital would be «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» [“LAMPROPOULOI BROS”], the multi-storied department stores selling, inter alia, clothing for all the members of the Greek family and which were based in the urban centers of Athens, Piraeus and Patra. As we shall further see, however, these department stores would be a pole of attraction, not only for Greeks residing in these particular “cultural centers”, but also for whole masses of people residing in rural and semi-rural areas. For Boeotians, it would be the old national highway «ΟΔΟΣ ΘΗΒΩΝ ΕΛΕΥΣΙΝΑΣ» which would link them directly to Piraeus and Athens, where the two of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» stores would be located. As Dionysis Haritopoulos, in his Εκ Πειραιώς (Τόπος, 2012) notes, with reference to the Piraeus suburb of «Λεύκα» in 1955:

«Εδώ τέλειωνε η πόλη [Piraeus]… και άρχιζε
ο επαρχιακός χωματόδρομος για την πιο
κοντινή πόλη, τη Θήβα, γι’ αυτό έμεινε στον
δρόμο το όνομά της και τώρα που έγινε
άσφαλτος…» (p. 58 and cf. also attached
map).

It is precisely because «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» constituted an endogenous retail capital which was to become so popular amongst Boeotians in the 1960’s, 1970’s and through to the 1980’s, that we shall dwell on its advertizing discourse as a sample of discourse which so accurately reflects an adjustment of market logic to the cultural logic of the “Amalia-type”. We may begin with a short, simple advertisement which was to circulate in 1961 in a variety of publications, one of these being the not too popular Kathimerini, and which read as follows:

«Μοντέρνα εμπριμέ…
Σχέδια αποκλειστικά.
… ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ…
ΑΘΗΝΑΙ» (cf. Kathimerini,
16.5.1961).

This type of advertizing discourse, albeit simple at face value, allows us to make a number of preliminary observations, and which shall have to be verified as we move along – such observations would include:

  • The advertisement places an emphasis on “modernity” – in doing so, it is promoting a new taste which is in fact a real new mass taste sprouting from the grassroots reality of the popular masses, whatever their class position. “Modernity” was seen – as it was – as a new cultural phenomenon gradually traversing all social strata. An examination of photographs either of the Aliartian barber (op. cit.) or of his friends, and which date back to the post-war period, fully justifies such observations judging by their dress code. The «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» discourse was therefore both promoting and adjusting to a Greek grassroots need: it was trying to meet just such need (while such taste for “modernity” in clothes was new as a mass phenomenon in the post-war period, its seeds date back to the late-19th century – cf. Kostis Palamas, «Περασμένα χρόνια – εξομολόγησις επαρχιώτου», in «Τα Χρόνια μου…», op. cit, pp. 455-461);
  • Precisely because the discourse was trying to adjust to such need, it constituted a “balanced” discourse;
  • By “balanced” discourse we mean that there was an absence of whatever “provocation” – the discourse does not wish to divide Greeks between those who were for “modernity” and those who supposedly clung on to “anachronistic” attire. It understood that the Greek popular masses – especially those younger of age – belonged to at least two broad categories: there were those who wanted to adopt the “modern” and practically did so because they simply could; and there were those who wanted to do so but could not for purely economic reasons. The firm patiently waited for a generalized rise in consumer power and, as we shall see, it would adjust its price ranges so as to accommodate those still struggling to make ends meet. The absence of any divisive “provocative” discourse would also mean that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would not wish to contrast the “new” with the “old” – they would respect both. The owners of the firm – who were, as is obvious, all brothers – could only but have fully respected their own mother or grandmother who would reside in a mountain village and who were most probably dressed in traditional all-black attire;
  • As is apparent, the advertizing discourse avoids whatever comparisons with the “foreign”, and there is no insinuation that such foreign is “superior”. This laconic little advertisement is free of any “national complexes” and takes “modernity” as a de facto taste of Greeks. For it, being Greek naturally translates into being “modern”. By extension, the “modern look” (those «Σχέδια αποκλειστικά») was that of the Greek middle class milieu. And the firm knew that even a Greek “grease monkey” would don his Sunday suit and go to his local coffee-shop to socialize with his mates. But, then, even a “grease monkey” would willingly espouse the Greek version of popular middle class values, and so would his wage-earning mates. If there was any foreign element in such popular taste, that in itself would be of little concern to the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» promotional strategy in 1961, at least as this is evident in the advertisement we are considering.

The point is that, unlike a number of multinational corporations whose understanding of markets was restricted to the abstract global, a firm such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» was rooted deeply in the socio-cultural and economic history of Greece. Historical facts speak for themselves, and these go back to 1901, when the «Καταστήματα Λαμπρόπουλοι» was established. Events leading to this establishment constitute a specifically Greek-rooted history and which explains the immersion of such firm in the socio-cultural atmosphere of the country. The founder of the retail outlet was a «μικροπωλητής με πάγκο στην οδό Αιόλου» or a mere «πλανόδιος» (cf. www.tovima.gr). As a street peddler, this man’s “beat” would be Aiolou Street, there where he would finally establish his own shop. In an important sense, any member of the Greek popular masses, however poor and “uneducated”, could have found himself in his shoes. Amalia Eleftheriadou’s brother, for instance, who would himself join the A&M Mill at Aliarto, could – potentially – have followed that same route. The Zygoyianni brothers, as mentioned elsewhere, did follow such a route, although they would never reach the heights of the Aiolou Street peddler. Not all down-and-outs (described so accurately throughout the work of Haritopoulos’ Εκ Πειραιώς, op. cit.) would be that successful, but the potential for social mobility was there, albeit in varying degrees given circumstances and personal confidence. In a sense, there was one common denominator uniting the likes of a Lambropoulos, a Zygoyiannis and a Leonidas (Amalia’s brother): despite differences in circumstances, they all had the potential to do it “their way”, and do so from a similar class position as launching pad. Although the socio-economic constraints were there to prevent all three cases from becoming major entrepreneurs, all three espoused such a dream. It was this common denominator that explains the socio-cultural rootedness of a firm such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ».

The story of the founder of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» goes back to 1898 – according to To Vima (cf. www.tovima.gr):

«… το 1898… ο Ξενοφών Λαμπρόπουλος,
από ένα χωριό της ορεινής Αρκαδίας,
μόνο αυτός από τα επτά αδέλφια της
οικογένειας, ήλθε στην Αθήνα να βρει
την τύχη του».

To the extent that Xenophon Lambropoulos embodied elements of the poverty-ridden rural areas of Greece, and which were areas steeped in traditional practices and attitudes, we may say that the man’s coming to Athens constituted an act of major sociological significance (his migration to Athens, of course, would be repeated by thousands upon thousands of rustics). Lambropoulos’ coming to Athens would mean that the rural “periphery” would unite with the urban “centre”, and such unification would mean an assimilation of traditionalist localism with that of “modernism”. When it came to clothing, such assimilation would come to be encapsulated in the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores themselves. Such vestiges of unification between cultural paradigms, first appearing at the turn of the 20th century, would continue and explode by the 1960’s – and we need to know the implications of such assimilation as to the new socio-cultural practices and new attitudes which would sprout and finally crystallize by the 1970’s. Xenophon Lambropoulos would both precede and ride the waves of such explosive process. What concerns us here are the implications of all this as to advertizing discourse and promotional behaviour on the part of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ», and the function of these within the Greek middle class milieu of which the “Amalia-type” was a pioneering social category.

But it would not only be this unification between “periphery” and “centre” which would determine the discourse of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm. In fact, we had yet another reason why the very nature of the firm would be such as to further reinforce its local rootedness and which would consolidate its natural determination to adjust to and express the essential “Greekness” of its customers. We know that, fairly soon, Xenophon Lambropoulos would be joined by four of his other brothers in the running of the fledgling business. Like him, they would abandon the rural areas and come to Athens to pursue their fate with their brother. As such, they would together come to constitute the classic Greek Family Business. Such familial interaction would place internal constraints within the firm as to its nature and functioning, and it would have specific implications as to its socio-cultural image, practices and attitudes. It is important to note here that such classic Greek Family Business would be what it was, not only because of the familial structures that would articulate with it as a firm (something which we also observed in the operations of the Aliartian A&M Mill factory – cf. our relevant paper on this issue), but also because all of its family members lacked any professional training in the field of trade and in fact lacked any formal education. Their cultural orientation and educational levels were precisely those of the Greek popular masses themselves: interestingly, the formal educational qualifications of Amalia Eleftheriadou stood well above theirs (we know that the young lady had almost completed her senior high school studies).

We would therefore have a combination of five interrelated factors which would determine the ‘psyche’ of this endogenous, non-monopoly commercial capital and which would clearly distinguish it from multinational giants such as Philips, Quaker Oats, Unilever, and so on. Apart from objective factors such as capital turnover, “marketing mix”, etc., the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm would be managed by five brothers who would be composing an entrepreneurial team characterized by the following so-called ‘subjective’ factors:

  • They would all be carrying a rustic, traditional-residual culture;
  • They would all have tasted the bitter fruits of poverty and the determination to start from point-zero (Xenophon Lambropoulos, the street peddler, being the most audacious as to that);
  • They would be constrained by tight family relations: their entrepreneurial dynamism would be an expression of the Greek Family Unit interacting with the world of the market place;
  • They all lacked any professional training: it would be their rich empirical knowledge which would allow them to thrive in the retail trade – ultimately, as we shall see, they would combine such empirical knowledge with that of the more professional Greek advertizing company «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ» (op. cit.), as also with the more ‘theoretical’ knowledge of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ (op. cit,), and which would allow them to emerge as a major force in Greek non-monopoly commercial capital;
  • They all lacked any formal education, which meant that their “world view” and socio-cultural values were part and parcel of those of the Greek popular masses – if they were to go beyond the traditionalism of such values, so also would the popular middle class milieu in toto.

The social rootedness of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» is evident in more ways than one – we may simply note here that in 1929 the firm would promote its products by placing advertisements in the ‘organ’ of the Greek Communist Party, the Rizospastis. As in the case of the 1961 advertisement which we presented above, here too, the discourse of the advertisements was laconic, unpretentious and devoid of any “national complexes”. Below, we shall have to examine the rather interesting relationship that pertained between the owners of the local firm and the Greek “Left” (and thereby put the record straight as regards certain myths that have been cultivated about Greek local capital by most so-called “Marxist” intellectuals in Greece). Here, we simply observe that the rootedness of the firm was such as to also encompass the tastes of the pre-war communist “Left” when it came to attire (many members of such “Left” would belong to the educated “élites”, including lawyers, teachers, university students, writers, etc. – cf., for example, Αβραάμ Μπεναρόγια, Η πρώτη σταδιοδρομία του ελληνικού προλεταριάτου, Εκδόσεις Ολκός, 1975; or Νάσος Μπράτσος, Εργατικές ιστορίες, Εκδόσεις Bux, 1998).

It was just such long-term social rootedness on the part of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» which would allow the firm to earnestly adopt promotional strategies guided by ΕΛΚΕΠΑ. Very much unlike certain global giants which had persisted in advertizing discourse of the “provocative-interventionist” type, and which would circumvent the guidelines and codes of ΕΛΚΕΠΑ, this Greek firm would almost religiously listen to and abide by the local promotional strategies of the ΣΕΒ-related body and its educational programs. Above, we have dwelt on the ΣΕΒ/ΕΛΚΕΠΑ institutions (and their organ Paragogikotis ), and examined how these would undertake an ideological struggle to maintain “balances” within Greek advertizing discourse since the 1950’s. We have seen how these local institutions had emphasized the importance of placing the Greek consumer “in command”. The firm «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would be one of the first local Greek companies to champion such ΕΛΚΕΠΑ promotional strategies (perhaps at first unconsciously and spontaneously but later on quite consciously and very systematically). We know that the first-generation managers of the department stores did not possess the professional qualifications to pursue any systematic promotional policy capable of both competing with whatever multinational corporations and of maintaining a “balanced” promotional discourse expressive of the Greek context. But their instinctive business acumen would allow them to understand that their products could best be promoted by cooperating with ΕΛΚΕΠΑ and having their staff participate in the  seminars of the latter. While the firm’s staff would undergo training through internal/in-house seminars, the external promotional campaigns of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would be left to local advertizing experts, in this case the legendary advertizing company «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ ΔΙΑΦΗΜΙΣΕΙΣ», itself being an active member of ΕΔΕΕ and of the training organization ΚΕΣΔΙ (cf. above – we should here mention that yet another local advertizing company which would manage the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» promotional campaigns in the early-1960’s would be «ΓΚΡΕΚΑ»).

The re-education of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» employees via ΕΛΚΕΠΑ seminars in the decade of the 1980’s would be part of that generalized re-education of Greek personnel involved in the local manufacturing and commercial field, and which – as we have already noted – would engage a total of 60.000 people (cf., above, as quoted from the Δελτίον ΣΕΒ). The participation of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm in such seminars was whole-hearted and active, and not at all a merely formal ritual meant to appease either ΣΕΒ or the public. An ΕΛΚΕΠΑ trainer involved in the running of these seminars for the staff of the department stores in the decade of the 1980’s would have this to say, in retrospect:

«Σε σεμινάρια πωλήσεων που τους
είχα κάνει την δεκαετία του ’80 με
το ΕΛΚΕΠΑ, είχα μείνει έκπληκτος από
την ποιότητα των βιβλίων που είχαν
τυπώσει για να εκπαιδεύεται συνεχώς
το προσωπικό τους και να εξυπηρετεί
καλύτερα την πελατεία τους»
(cf. «Η παλιά Αθήνα»,
www.paliaathina.com).

It would be both the objective rootedness of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm and its conscious decision to participate in such ΕΛΚΕΠΑ seminars which would allow it to play a pioneering role in the advancement of a specifically “Greek modernity” as regards the local dress code. This would mean that, while “modernity” would be its central aim both as regards the composition of its products and as also the discourse of its advertisements, it would nonetheless maintain certain checks and balances so as not to violate the given tastes of its customers, but which were themselves in flux. As such, the advertizing discourse of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm would be devoid of any vestiges of “provocation” and crude “interventionism” and its symbolic semantics would be articulated in rhythm with the needs and potentials of the popular masses. From the very outset, it would focus its promotional campaigns on what it would call –

«Ανδρικά είδη και νεωτερισμοί».

And, at least by the early-1960’s, it would also expand such «νεωτερισμούς» to cover the needs of Greek women and kids. But to fully comprehend the historic role of firms such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» in actually clothing the post-war Greek family according to the new, emerging standards of the fledgling middle class milieu, we need to contrast such «νεωτερισμούς» in relation to Greek attire amongst the popular masses worn in the mid-1950’s. Such contrast would allow us to go so far as to say that the department stores of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would literally re-clothe the Greek popular masses. Dionysis Haritopoulos (op. cit.), who had himself worked in the field of advertizing till 1990, refers to the usual attire of Greeks in the mid-1950’s (and with reference to a clothes manufacturing firm run by a certain «Ρετσίνας» based in the area of Λεύκα at Piraeus) – he writes:

«Στη Λεύκα έφτιαξε ο Ρετσίνας το
σκυλίσιο ντρίλι ύφασμα και έντυσε
τους εργατικούς και τους χωρικούς
όλης της χώρας με φτηνά, ζεστά και
ανθεκτικά ρούχα, από παντελόνι
μέχρι τραγιάσκα…» (p. 59).

It is impossible to truly capture the psychology of the “New Type” of Greek that was gradually emerging in the 1960’s without drawing a sharp contrast between that «σκυλίσιο ντρίλι ύφασμα» which Haritopoulos describes, and which he says would once clothe the whole of the nation, to that new type of «νεωτερισμοί» which «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would be promoting, and which would itself come to re-clothe that whole nation. It is self-evident that the self-image and identity of the individual belonging to the new Greek middle class milieu would, to a large extent, be determined  by the clothes he would don, especially over weekends or in the course of various national and religious celebrations (especially Easter time – with reference to dress codes amongst churchgoers back in the 1920’s, cf. Kostis Palamas, «Πασχαλινή ενθήμηση», in Τα χρόνια μου, op. cit., pp. 373-376, where he notes, inter alia: «Ο κόσμος πυκνότατος, αστράφτοντας μέσα στα γιορτερά του…»).

As already alluded to, this new trend towards various «νεωτερισμούς» for all the members of the Greek family – as promoted by the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm – would never seek to openly violate the given status quo regarding dress code. And this would apply both to the status quo as determined by the popular masses and to that status quo as determined by the State itself in certain special cases. An excellent example of the manner in which «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would adjust to the given circumstances concerns its policy with regard to school uniforms for girls. We know that the Greek State would enforce a policy whereby schoolgoers would be forced to wear a specific uniform at school, the traditional «μπλε σχολική ποδιά» for females, something which would only be abolished by February 6, 1982. Up until that time, the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm (together with that other very popular department store, «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ») would promote and sell that particular school uniform by sticking to State stipulations while at the same time trying to “modernize” it as much as possible. What would emerge would be a new «ΘΡΑΝΙΟΜΟΔΑ», and parents would rush to these department stores at the start of the school-year to satisfy both the regulations of the State and the new whims of a youth that was a continuing outgrowth of the “sexual revolution” through to the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The forms that such «ΘΡΑΝΙΟΜΟΔΑ» would take, and especially as that was promoted in the popular press, will not concern us here. What is of major interest for our purposes at this point is to stress that a local non-monopoly retail enterprise as was «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» (as was also «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ») would be able to both accommodate the traditionalism of the Greek school uniform and at the same time undertake subtle innovations which would “modernize” it to an extent that it would make it more or less tolerable amongst youth. Put otherwise, one may say that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm both served the State-imposed conservative regulations regarding school uniforms (it had no choice but do that) and at the same time tried to effect a “modernization” within the limits of such regulations – in that way, it tried to maintain “balances” between State conservativeness (which by the way also reflected the tastes of certain sections of Greek society) and that particular type of “modernism” preferred by Greek youth. As a local-based retail company which was fully aware of both the “conservative” constraints of the Greek case, and of the “progressive” impulses of that selfsame case, it was predisposed to respond to both. It did precisely that, and thus established itself as an economic and cultural phenomenon in the «nous» of the Greek popular masses. Such «nous» encompassed all social strata and traversed whatever political orientations.

This real impact on the «nous» of the popular masses, while truly exploding in the decade of the 1960’s, would actually commence in the post-war period, precisely at the time when that «σκυλίσιο ντρίλι ύφασμα» (Haritopoulos) would continue to be the order of the day for the vast masses of workers and peasants. By the early-1950’s, the advertizing discourse of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm would be such as to address itself to a nation deprived of the fruits of “modernity” as a result of both the German occupation and the Civil War that had ensued. Generally speaking, the firm’s advertizing discourse at that time announced its wish to provide the Greek popular masses with whatever the war had denied them – its overall discourse strategy, across time, would be to try to fill the gap of deprivation caused, not only by the war, but also by the poverty of the pre-war period – as regards the latter, the discourse approach would be transient, self-correcting and complex.

Much more specifically, one needs to distinguish between three fairly distinct, at times rather contradictory, but nonetheless interrelated elements in the advertizing discourse of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» of the early-1950’s, and which would spill over to 1960’s discourse in a manner which would suppress some of these elements and highlight certain others. To begin with, advertizing in the very early-1950’s would place an immediate emphasis – and perhaps naturally so – on the deprivations of war and  the need to win the confidence of the post-war consumer based on the promises of the post-war period and the stability of peace. Such “promises” were assumed to be meant for all and sundry (across social strata) and it was the “confidence” of all such that had to be won. A well-informed text narrating the history of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores (in athinapisovitrina.blogspot.gr) explains the matter as follows:

«Σε διαφημίσεις του 1950 εμφανίζεται
έτοιμο [το κατάστημα] να κερδίσει την
εμπιστοσύνη του καταναλωτή και να
προσφέρει όλα αυτά που μέχρι τότε είχε
στερήσει ο πόλεμος».

While post-war confidence would definitely express the «nous» of all social strata, and while the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» discourse would appeal to such given generalized confidence (and which would of course need to be further boosted), the discourse would take it for granted that it was merely the realities of war per se that had been the cause of social deprivation. Yet still, as regards this first element of discourse, the emphasis would be placed on the all-inclusiveness of consumer confidence in a period when work, consumption and “modernity” would gradually take precedence over the tragic memories of destructive and self-destructive acts of war.

But the second element in the post-war discourse of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertizing would carry ideological allusions which unwittingly revealed that its pre-war clients were limited exclusively to élite strata of Greek society, something which is historically explainable given the near-ubiquitous poverty of the popular masses prior to the war (on this issue, and with respect to the rest of Europe, cf. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, op. cit., p. 93). This second element of discourse would now not only presuppose that all deprivations were a mere consequence of the specific war conditions but also that, prior to these conditions, all Greeks had been, so to speak, “happy” – and this would have a direct effect on the discourse itself. One advertisement of the immediate post-war period – in 1946 – would run as follows:

«Η ΖΩΗ ξαναρχίζει…
μ’ όλες τις προπολεμικές
χαρές!»
(cf. Nikos Bakounakis, «Το στιγμιαίο
και το διαρκές…», www.tovima.gr,
30.11.1997).

In this type of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertisement we have a post-war discourse which would clearly romanticize the pre-war era – as such, it would inadvertently be class-biased, hearkening back to the “joys” of its then élite customers (those who had been able to avoid that «σκυλίσιο ντρίλι ύφασμα»).

By the 1960’s, however, the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertizing discourse would reveal a third and henceforth permanently dominant element: while setting aside any references to the deprivations of the war period, it would continue to address itself to the new-found consumer confidence, and which by now was becoming a material reality for large segments of the popular masses. But much more importantly, the “joys” of the élites, be these of the pre- or post-war period, were to be the “joys” of all.

This third element, latent in the first and second elements, would become the conscious advertizing strategy of the firm: its socio-cultural rootedness would enable it to open up its discourse in a manner which captured the new popular middle class milieu. The material constraints of the pre-war past had restricted the market space of the ex-Aiolou Street peddler to that of the élite few. By the 1960’s, «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would meet their element, and it would be precisely this social element – the popular middle class milieu – which would render them “great” both in the «nous» of the masses and amongst endogenous non-monopoly capital.

To verify our position at this point, we simply quote the words of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ΑΕ «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» on December 7, 1965, at the time when their seven-storey department would be finally established – these words are telling. As he put it:

«Προσπαθήσαμε και φτιάξαμε
 έναν ολόκληρο κόσμο για όλο
 τον κόσμο»
(cf. Ελευθερία, 7.12.1965,
my emph.).

The references to «έναν ολόκληρο κόσμο» and to «για όλο τον κόσμο» need to be taken quite literally: the former speaks of a whole new world that was being constructed at the time and which was the new, popular middle class milieu, and as such milieu was being given a corporeal reality within those seven floors of the building. Great masses of people would move and mix along its aisles and corridors (amounting to 4,000 square meters of space) in a manner which would define and re-define that “New Type” of Greek, and about which Walter Benjamin would have had so much to say (we shall come back to his approach). As regards the latter phrase, it would clearly announce that the stores of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would henceforth be going beyond the Greek élites as their target group – both advertizing discourse and product would be meant to cover the needs of the Greek popular masses as a whole. An advertisement in the Akropolis (5.12.1965, p. 3), announcing the new «Μεγάλο Κατάστημα», would declare:

«Με υπερηφάνεια σας προσκαλούμε
να το επισκεφθήτε, να το θαυμάσετε,
να το χαρήτε, γιατί στην επιτυχία αυτήν
 συντέλεσε και η δική σας συμβολή»
(my emph.).

But such intentions did not simply appear suddenly and out of the blue: the firm had been preparing itself for such market openness even since the 1950’s. Its plans to open up its market space «για όλο τον κόσμο», thus popularizing its products for the rest of society, would already be evident in the decade of the 1950’s when it would place an emphasis on cheap prices, something which would dominate in its advertizing discourse as such. For instance, in 1958, the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertizing discourse would be dominated by slogans such as the following:

«εκλεκτά είδη εις ευθηνάς τιμάς»
(cf. inter alia, «53 Διαφημίσεις –
Αφίσες», docplayer.gr).

It would be this opening up to the “Amalia-type” that would allow the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm to achieve its peak development, and which would be in the decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It would be in the course of such peak development that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores in Athens, Piraeus and Patra would attain a very specific combination of socio-cultural functions in Greek society which it is important to dwell on. To understand such combination of functions, we shall begin by presenting two texts which simply describe how people would relate to the type of department store represented by «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ». The first text, which refers to the 1960’s-1970’s period, reads as follows:

«Δεν ήταν λίγοι οι αθηναίοι που για
πολλά χρόνια κατέβαιναν απλά για
να θαυμάσουν τις βιτρίνες του
Λαμπρόπουλου, να δουν τις τιμές και
κυρίως “όλα τα νέα ευρωπαϊκά μοντέλα”…»
(cf. athinapisovitrina.blogspot.gr).

As has already been mentioned, it would not only be Athenians who would engage in such activity – people from the rural areas or from towns such as Thiva (cf. the Haritopoulos quote above with reference to «Λεύκα»), or from Aliarto itself, would also visit the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores. Even prior to the construction of the seven-storey building, the Aliartian barber (op. cit.), by way of an example, would often enough visit the department stores with his family, and such event would always constitute a red-letter day for them in the early-1960’s. In fact, by the 1970’s, the Aiolou-Ermou Street complex in the Athens city-centre would come to constitute the beloved urban hub for the villagers of Boeotia, especially as regards female youth, whose main interest was the latest in fashion, apart from the “bright lights”.

The second descriptive text, this time with reference to the department stores of «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ» (and which represented the selfsame cultural phenomenon as was that of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ»), reads as follows:

«Μπορούσα να έχω περπατήσει από
το Σύνταγμα, αλλά έτσι θα έχανα
μία από τις μεγαλύτερες απολαύσεις
μου, από μικρό παιδί. Τρελαίνομαι για
κυλιόμενες σκάλες. Περίμενα πώς και πώς,
όταν ήμουν πιτσιρίκος, να έρθει εκείνη
η μέρα του μήνα που η μάνα μου θα μάζευε
τα ελάχιστα χρήματα που μας περίσσευαν
για να πάμε στο “Μινιόν” και να αγοράσουμε
ένα ψευτοπράγμα, ίσα-ίσα για να γυρίζω
εγώ πάνω-κάτω τις κυλιόμενες και εκείνη
να χαζεύει όσα δεν μπορούσε να αποκτήσει…»
(cf. P. Koutsakis, Ιερά Οδός Μπλουζ,
Εκδόσεις Πατάκη, Athens, 2010, p. 213).

What are the implications of such social behaviour as described in these texts? More specifically, what is implied as regards the socio-cultural functions of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» or the «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ» department stores in Greek society? As major social attractions for the post-war popular masses, these constituted a corporeal discourse which engaged people in a variety of ways, even when that took the form of what Koutsakis calls «να χαζεύει». What would all this have meant for Amalia Eleftheriadou whenever she would find the opportunity to stroll along the streets of Aiolou and Ermou, and where she would mostly have spend her time «χαζεύοντας»?

For Walter Benjamin, it would be that specific type of critically-minded street wanderer – the “flâneur” – who would have looked down on and evaluated the “Amalia-type” as “nothing but the amorphous crowd of passers-by” devoid of whatever social collectivity (cf. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, Fontana Press, 1992, pp. 161-163, etc.). But would Benjamin’s “flâneur” have been an accurate observer of an Amalia Eleftheriadou as she would stare at the shop-windows of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores? The matter is important, because it raises the question as to whether the “Amalia-type” (as shopper) had belonged to an amorphous mass of “dreamers” manipulated by the “nightmare” of “modernism”, or whether such “type” was an organic part of a collective milieu fashioning its own identity, and doing so by dialectically interacting with that corporeal discourse we are speaking of.

To attempt an answer to such a question, we may begin by briefly presenting some of the perceptions developed – rather unsystematically to say the least – by Benjamin himself, and which were to later become holy script by certain “Marxist” academics in Europe, and so also in Greece. Benjamin had been deeply concerned about the effects of “modernity” and “progress” on the nature of humanity, and he had tried to examine the impact of these as they had manifested themselves in Paris, which he considered to be the capital of the 19th century. Observing both the urban landscape and its dwellers, he would come up with a number of conclusions. Stavros Stavridis, a Greek “Leftwing” academic in the Athens School of Architecture, has tried to summarize such theoretical conclusions (cf. his «Εικόνα και εμπειρία της πόλης στον Βάλτερ Μπένγιαμιν», in A. Spyropoulou (ed.), Βάλτερ Μπένγιαμιν, Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνρεια, 2007, pp. 250-272). Some of these positions would include the following:

  • One extremely interesting approach is that cities constitute the «υλικότητα του αστικού κόσμου». Therein, «στις πτυχές των γεωλογικών στρώσεων, που γεννούν την πόλη, στη φυσιογνωμία αντικειμένων και συμβάντων, ο Μπένγιαμιν πίστευε πως θα έβρισκε αποτυπωμένο τον χαρακτήρα της νεωτερικής ζωής». (Stavridis, op. cit., pp. 250-251). Of course, if one were to carefully stretch such an approach to its logical limits, one would have to revise the traditional conceptions of Marxism whereby the reality of ideology is reduced to the terrain of ideas. If it be objects and events of a city which encapsulate its “modernist-capitalist” character, such character cannot be reduced to whatever “dominant” system of ideas imposed on the “dominated” by certain State apparatuses. Objects, happenings and behaviours engage civil society as a whole, whatever the objective social position of its members, and depending on their relative bargaining power. Both Benjamin and his later followers would never be able to go thus far, and thus the city per se would – for them – come to be characterized by one iron law – «τον νόμο της φετιχιστικής φαντασμαγορίας» (p. 264).
  • The manner in which Benjamin would view and experience the «υλικότητα» of the  city of Paris would lead him to a totalitarian conception of the “modernist world” whereby such world would be revealed to him – as it would to a “flâneur” – as the ultimate “myth of modernism”, a “myth” which subsumes all city dwellers. Stavridis puts this as follows: «Εκθέτοντας στις βιτρίνες των καταστημάτων τους ό,τι πιο καινούργιο και εντυπωσιακό, οι στοές [of Paris] γίνονται ο πιο χαρακτηριστικός τόπος της νεωτερικής φαντασμαγορίας. Τα εμπορεύματα είναι εκθέματα: Οι επισκέπτες τους, παρόλο που δεν μπορούν οι πιο πολλοί να τα αγοράσουν, ζουν τη δύναμη του μύθου τους, την υπόσχεση ενός μέλλοντος γεμάτου ανακαλύψεις, γεμάτου θαύματα. Στις στοές, μοιάζει να υλοποιήθηκε το πιο λαμπρό παράδειγμα της νεωτερικής μυθολογίας» (p. 266, my emph.).
  • This “myth” would have a transformative effect on those who came into contact with it: city-dwellers would be reduced to a mass of “dreaming” spectators. Stavridis writes: «Το εμπόρευμα μετατρέπεται σε θέαμα και οι περαστικοί σε θαμπωμένους θεατές που ονειρεύονται» (pp. 266-267, my emph.).
  • Such “dreaming” harbours within it the secreted “nightmare” of “modernism” – Stavridis continues: «… στις ίδιες βιτρίνες απεικονίζεται ο νεωτερικός εφιάλτης: Το νέο είναι τελικά το διαρκώς ίδιο. Ο νεωτερισμός εκφυλίζεται σε μόδα. Μόδα που σαρώνει και τις ίδιες τις στοές» (p. 267, my emph.). Of course, Benjamin himself was being quite “prophetic” when referring to the “nightmarish” element – the real nightmare would certainly come with the advent of the Second World War. In retrospect, however, we know that the “modern age” would also come to include the “Golden Age” of the postwar years (cf. Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, op. cit., esp. Part 2, “The Golden Age”), which would mean a long period of peace, at least in Europe, and the radical amelioration of material conditions for the popular masses. Within such “Golden Age”, the functions of a «βιτρίνα» cannot possibly be reduced to the signifier of some totalistic “nightmare”. Further, it would be a naïve oversimplification to suggest that «Το νέο είναι τελικά το διαρκώς ίδιο», as Benjamin would have it and as any Stavridis would so uncritically accept – above, we have cited the work of Irving Fang (op. cit.) which, like that of so many others, has shown the waves of real ruptural fusions that have taken place in human history and which have led to the unbelievable “newness” of the sixth revolution, that of the internet.
  • By reducing “modernism” to a “nightmare”, Benjamin would naturally point to what he perceived to be the “myth of progress”, again seeing that absence of “progress” in the corporeal reality of the city of Paris with its “bright lights”, its shop-windows and their exhibited commodities. As Stavridis further continues: «Εικόνες λαμπερές, διαφημίσεις, επιδεικνυόμενα τεχνολογικά επιτεύγματα, φωτισμένες βιτρίνες, όψεις του πλήθους στα βουλεβάρτα. Όλη τούτη η εικονογραφία συνεργεί στη μυθική κατασκευή που αξιώνει την υπερτοπική και διαχρονική αίγλη του νεωτερικού μύθου της προόδου. Μια τέτοια μυθολογική εικονογραφία μαγεύει την πόλη όπως μαγεύει και τους κατοίκους της» (p. 268, my emph.). And in a footnote to his text, Stavridis adds: «Πρόκειται για την “επανενεργοποίηση των μυθικών δυνάμεων” που χαρακτηρίζει τον “ύπνο γεμάτο όνειρα” στον οποίο βύθισε την πόλη η καπιταλιστική νεωτερικότητα» (ibid.). Both for Benjamin and for “Left intellectuals” such as Stavridis, people very simply “sleep” within the “nightmare” of the “bright lights” of capitalist cities – presumably, they shall only be able to “wake up” when capitalism is destroyed, and which would constitute real “progress”.
  • Our commentary might sound bitterly ironic and may be said to overstate their position – but we need note how Stavridis ends his paper, quoting Benjamin: «η επανάσταση ξεμαγεύει [entzaubert] την πόλη» (p. 272). In other words the “myth of modernism” and the “myth of progress” can only be de-mythologized through an anti-capitalist revolution.

It would, perhaps, be quite rash to wish to transfer Benjamin’s observations on the city of Paris to the “modernity” and “progress” that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» represented for the rural and urban dwellers of 1960’s-1970’s Greece. But there are at least three basic parallels which could allow for some such transference: Firstly, the impact of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» stores on Greeks could somehow be paralleled to that of Benjamin’s Parisians: both would be struck by the “bright lights” of “modernity” for their very first time. Although we need to bear in mind the truly different socio-economic histories of these two countries, there was still one common denominator: both for Benjamin’s Parisians and for the 1960’s Greeks, the shop-windows and the “bright lights” would constitute a first impact flashing in the “innocent” minds of both these peoples. Such impact, of course, would take place in completely different time-periods, and that would delimit the differences in response as regards these two peoples. (For an examination of the rise of department stores in countries such as France, America and Britain in the 19th century, cf. E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire…, op. cit., p. 54.)

Secondly, both the “modernity” of Parisian shops and the “modernity” of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would be a specifically “capitalist modernity”, and it is in that sense that Greek “Leftwing” academics such as Stavridis would wish to “re-read” the work of Benjamin and want to apply it to the Greek case. Although we would certainly reject whatever approach that speaks in the name of some abstract “Capitalism-in-General” – there has never been one “Capitalist System” as such but rather a variety of “capitalisms” which could include various “pre-capitalist” characteristics at different levels of maturation – we may nonetheless tentatively accept that rudiments of “modernity” would also penetrate the Greek social formation, especially in the hub of the Athens city-centre and given the influx of certain “Western” commodities.

This second, and as always rather tentative parallel, brings us to the final point which could allow us to transfer some of the Benjamin observations to the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» case. Very simply, it was a motley of Parish fashions (though not only) that the firm was consciously introducing to the “Amalia-type”. Again, the question which remains to be answered is the specific response of that “Amalia-type” to whatever European fashions.

Before we examine the impact of the “modernist” corporeal discourse as expressed by the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΥΛΟΙ» department stores in the Greek context, we need to say a few final words about Benjamin’s (and Stavridis’) understanding of “modernity” and the almost metaphysical conclusions they come up with. That would further allow us to attempt some greater understanding of the real socio-cultural functionality of department stores such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» within the Greek context and what that would mean for the “Amalia-type”.

Perhaps we should begin by stating what is surely by now quite obvious to any social historian: there are no iron laws in history, let alone any one such law. Benjamin’s understanding of history is “messianic”: all dominant historic events up until his tragic-comic suicide in 1940 were, for him, the accumulation of a destructive “myth”, a “nightmare”, and only “entzaubert” would lead humanity to its salvation. For him, the socio-cultural phenomenon of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would be a central element of such destructive “myth”, and which was itself a manifestation of one iron law in the history of capitalism – «τον νόμο της φετιχιστικής φαντασμαγορίας». Further, and what is by now self-evident to anyone who has lived the 20th century, there are no “millenarian” ruptures in modern history: revolutions did and do take place, but their end-product is nowhere near whatever metaphysical “entzaubert” and they carry within their end-product elements of the so-called pre-revolutionary period, be these ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In fact, the very idea of “salvation” points to a religious mysticism, something which is completely useless in trying to understand how the “Amalia-type” would relate to and “live” the “bright lights” and shop windows of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores. Finally, the belief that any “Amalia-type” could be reduced to a “dreaming” spectator presupposes a totalitarian social system, something which cannot possibly describe whatever “life-form”, given that all forms of human existence have been characterized by different levels and types of resistance within a “system” which is itself open to a complex of internal contradictions. To understand the relation between the “Amalia-type” and the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» stores, one needs to keep in mind that there was a complex of balance of forces that would define the role of objects, events and behaviours around and within stores such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ», and it would be such continually changing balance of forces that would determine the texture, either of the little “nightmares” or of the little units of “progress” in the life of an Amalia Eleftheriadou. Both “nightmare” and “progress” would be present in the life of such young working people, but the post-war stability and the celebration of youth would tilt the balance towards some sense of personal “progress” (the latter term, used by Benjamin and usurped by the “Left” to describe its policies, in any case remains vague and obfuscating).

The “Amalia-type”, therefore, did not fall into whatever imposed “myth” (and was in no objective need for any “entzaubert”). If one is to at all accept whatever notion of “myth”, one would say that Amalia Eleftheriadou was that “myth”, in the specific sense that she was a truth unto herself. The “Amalia-type” made that “myth”, which was both a celebration of itself and at the same time was a “miserable passion” (in the Aeschylus sense). But Amalia Eleftheriadou did not make such “myth” – or such “truth” – all by herself. It was, inter alia, one collectivity – that generic “Amalia-type” – which bargained for its identity, negotiated it, lost it and won it, and so on, right as it related to the shop windows of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores.

What was such “Amalia-type” “truth”, and what does that tell us about the socio-cultural functions of the department stores of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» in the 1960’s-1970’s period? Such a question can only be answered through hard, empirical research, and must be posited well outside all utopian paradigms or whatever imageries of some “Angel of Death” (Benjamin).

Based on the two texts we have presented above, and which described how people would relate to the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores starting from the decade of the 1960’s, we may make the following observations regarding the socio-cultural functioning of such stores:

  • As a centre of popular attraction, the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores were a nexus of socio-cultural socializing. The stores brought the popular masses together as a collectivity of consumers or as potential consumers. The shop windows, which they marveled at («για να θαυμάσουν»), pointed to their potential role as the “modern consumer” – and they would thus “marvel” at their own new-found or looming consumer power. That would in itself urge them, not only to work harder, but also to wish to reinforce their bargaining power as a working people. But the socializing would go further: it would mix together urbanites with rustics, White-collar employees (as was Amalia) with manual labourers, the “Europeanized” with the traditionalists, the young with the old, and so on. Further, as the second text indicates, the stores of «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ»  would also introduce kids, amongst others, to the new “global” technology (such as the escalators). Above all, the Aiolou-Ermou Street complex would be a cultural conjunction between the “centre” and the “periphery”: for certain moments of their lives, Thebans and Aliartians would turn “Athenians”. Often enough, rustics who visited the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» or the «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ» department stores would then spend some hours of recreation at Athenian tavernas or coffee-shops run by ex-village compatriots (for instance, the village of Domvraina had its own Athenian-based coffee-shop and taverna not too far from the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» and the «ΜΙΝΙΟΝ» department stores).
  • Those who visited the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores would not merely marvel or passively gaze at the shop windows. They would not, as Stavridis (following Benjamin) assumes, be reduced to an amorphous mass of «θαμπωμένους θεατές που ονειρεύονται» (op. cit). According to the first text describing the manner in which people would relate to the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» stores, we read that «για πολλά χρόνια κατέβαιναν… για να… δουν τις τιμές». Such intentions would transform the window shoppers from “dreaming” spectators into calculating subjects: from the act of «θαυμάζω» they would move to the act of «μετράω». A 1964 satirical text published in Romantso would present the male “calculating subject” as follows (though females could be even more “calculating”): «Τώρα με τρώει να της πάρω, λέει, ένα ζευγάρι παππούτσια, που είδε σε μια βιτρίνα, στην οδό Ερμού…» His wife insists: «Αχ! Είναι όνειρο, Ονούφριέ μου! Να πάμε να τα δής! Και φτηνούλια... εξακόσιες δραχμές!» The husband responds: «Καλά, θα δούμε! είπα εγώ αορίστως». And he explains to the reader: «Γιατί δεν ήμουν διατεθειμένος να πληρώσω ένα εξακοσάρι για παππούτσια της κυρίας. Αυτό έλειπε… Και να τα φέρη ο διάβολος, προ ημερών, να είναι ο δρόμος μας από την Ερμού». His immediate reaction is predictable: «Αμάν, κάηκα! Είπα μέσα μου με τη σκέψι πως θα μούλεγε η Ουρανίτσα να σταματήσω το αυτοκίνητο για να δούμε στη βιτρίνα τα παππούτσια. Και με τη σκέψι αυτή, φουλάρω το αμάξι και περνάω με ογδόντα χιλιόμετρα από το παππουτσίδικο…» (cf. Romantso, τεύχ. 1107, 19.5. 1964, p. 38).
  • By comparing prices (one commodity as against another; the fluctuation of prices pertaining to a particular commodity through the passage of time), they would be measuring themselves up against these prices. As such, they would be measuring their objective power as a “class” – i.e. as a working people belonging to various income brackets (be these wage labourers or freelancers, or both) and as a consuming class (in both cases, obviously not in the classic Marxian sense of “class”). But this was a collectivity of working people which, by keeping an eye on prices and thus measuring itself up against the potential consumption of goods, was gradually defining its own “luxuries” (in the Galbraith sense). It was precisely this that would make of this collectivity a “middle class”, in the sense of expressing a very specific ideological and cultural milieu. Department stores such as the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would therefore function as a conscious price quotient defining the limits between basic material “necessities” and “luxuries”. But because such quotient was in flux and tensing towards «ευθηνάς τιμάς» (with an inflation rate which would never exceed 5% between 1956 and 1972), the on-going re-definition of “luxuries” by this social collectivity would render it, even literally speaking, a “middle class”, in the sense that it was perched between lumpen elements and small-time capitalists. Our intention is not to draw any clear-cut lines between these social divisions, and especially as regards the lumpen/working-person interface. And yet, we should perhaps quote Haritopoulos (op. cit.), who insists that young working people would in fact be hostile to lumpen elements. On the one hand, he tells us that lumpen elements would look down on those who held a formal job – he writes: «ο μάγκας που έχει νεφρό αρνείται να υποταχτεί σε νόμους και γραφές ή να προστεθεί στους μεροκαματιάρηδες που κοψομεσιάζονται ολημερίς για ένα κομμάτι ψωμί…» (p. 368). On the other hand, young working males would actually gang together so as to physically attack lumpen elements – speaking of the former, he writes: «Αυτή η παρέα από σβέλτα, νευρικά παιδιά δεν είναι οι πιο δυνατοί στη γειτονιά, αλλά είναι οι αρκούδες, αυτοί είναι σαν αγέλη λύκων που ορμάνε από όλες τις μεριές και σε κάνουν κομμάτια… επειδή ξεπατώνονται στις χαμαλοδουλειές για το μεροκάματο, έχουν άχτι τα κουτσαβάκια που τεμπελιάζουν ολημερίς στα καφενεία… και παριστάνουν τον κάργα, όλο ύφος και τα τοιαύτα…» (p. 309). But whether such social division was stark or blurred is really beside the point – what we should rather focus on is that that division, whatever form it took, was determined by the relation one had to the cultural milieu represented by the “style” of an «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ». Such was a “style” and “image” that could not be met unless one systematically calculated one’s consumer power up against prices and worked and/or bargained hard so as to clothe one’s family. It was this calculation, hard work and bargaining on the part of members of the middle class that would ultimately enable them to move from the purchasing of what Koutsakis calls «ψευτοπράγματα» to, as mentioned above, actually re-clothing themselves. Amongst other things, it would also lead to a re-definition of the female sense of “beauty” (cf. our discussions around this issue above). It goes without saying that, in the long run, this middle class milieu – as defined by its complex relationships with the commodities of stores such as that of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm – would swamp the majority of the popular masses and completely marginalize the lumpen elements. At least by the 1970’s, the remnants of the «μάγκας» sub-cultural strand would either disappear or be reduced to scattered groupings of eccentric poseurs.
  • The first text, as we have seen, goes on to further observe that «για πολλά χρόνια κατέβαιναν απλά για να θαυμάσουν… κυρίως “όλα τα νέα ευρωπαϊκά μοντέλα”…». To the extent that window shoppers were not mere “dreamers”, and to the extent that they were carriers of a socio-cultural logic that could not be simply crowded out by any market logic, we may say that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores constituted a socio-cultural hub wherein the popular masses critically assimilated the latest “European models”. Their “thought and attention”, as Galbraith would put it, was focused, not merely on cold calculation (prices), but also on “cultural taste”. Both the calculation of consumer power and the choice of dress code were elements of a conscious or semi-conscious collective practice – it would be these two elements that would define the “luxuries” of the Greek popular middle-class milieu, and department stores such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would be a central space wherein such “luxuries” would be delimited. Thus, the corporeal discourse of such stores was a two-way, dialectical interplay of cultural/ ideological forces which tested the assimilative capacities of the popular masses.

The socio-cultural functions of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» stores, as we have tried to describe them above, would basically apply to the decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s. While the 1980’s would not eradicate such functions, new elements would usher in regarding the corporeal discourse of such stores. We need to briefly dwell on these changes, and examine how such corporeal discourse, while still expressive of the Greek reality (which by the mid-1980’s was in dramatic flux), would nonetheless try to “compromise” with the “global”. We shall need to examine how department stores such «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» would try to keep up with the “global” element by the 1980’s, which was gradually entering into a major ideological/cultural struggle with the “Greekness” in lifestyle, and see how “adjustments” would be activated which would try to maintain “balances” between the “local” and the “international”. While this study has limited itself to the 1960’s-1970’s period, we will here consider certain realities of the 1980’s: these may allow us to understand how endogenous non-monopoly capital in the retail field would behave when it would be faced by a bombardment of “global” culture unheard of in the previous decades, and in which the Greek popular masses themselves would choose to be willing partners. We need to remember that here we would be speaking of a period of time when the “Amalia-type” would be maturing and crystallizing in ways unexpected even by it (people are never “conscious” enough to comprehend the consequences of their on-going actions, as has been observed elsewhere).

One characteristic manner in which the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores would try to keep up with the “global” element in the decade of the 1980’s would be to incorporate, within their own already established “style”, the discourse of Walt Disney cartoons, specifically meant to attract Greek kids. In 1983, the showing of such films within the firm’s department stores would be brought to the attention of the Greek consumer in a variety of ways, and which also included a well-known television commercial at the time (television would first enter Greek society by 1968, but it would only be by the late-1970’s that television commercials would come to dominate as advertizing discourse – and cf. the excellent work of Tryfon Bampilis, Greek Whisky: The Localization of a Global Community, Berghahn Books, 2013).

The implications of such a move, on the part of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ», are not at all easy to analyze, and they do relate to the issue of so-called US “cultural imperialism” discussed above. The impact of the Walt Disney paradigm has been thoroughly examined by a variety of researchers, the bibliography on the matter being near-endless. No serious work pertaining to the Greek case is anywhere available, dogmatic demagoguery aside. While it is truly beyond us to undertake such a massive and complex task, we shall here note a number of research pointers which historical sociology need consider, hopefully in the future.

How did the Walt Disney paradigm for children, adopted by «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ», relate to the Greek reality, at least in the early-1980’s? Very tentatively, we present here five basic research pointers:

  • According to Tracey Mollet (cf. her “With a smile and a song…”, in “Marvels & Tales”, vol. 27, no. 1, 2013), the Walt Disney brand has had a prominent position within the paradigm of popular culture. It originally emerged in the context of the American Depression and was meant to bolster the survival instincts of the so-called “common everyman” in the face of material and other hardships. It could celebrate the latter’s shrewdness in dealing with major catastrophes such as a Depression. Alternatively, it could celebrate “everyman’s” inherent will to fight so-called “Evil”. Either way, it would celebrate the élan vital of the “everyman” generally and in whatever context. This dimension of the brand could have ‘spoken’ to the Greek reality, and especially so when it came to Greek kids, who would identify with abstract or symbolic representations of “Evil”, and who were especially prone to a hyperactive élan vital in “fighting” such “Evil” in the eidetic sense. But Greek adults could also be appreciative of such paradigm of popular culture. Even since the early-1960’s, Walt Disney comics ( translated into Greek) would be shared by both parents and kids: the former would read the comic books to the latter, and both would enjoy the tremendous vitality of a Mickey Mouse in its struggle to escape dangerous situations (cf. the case of the Aliartian barber, who would spend endless hours reading Walt Disney comic books to his kids while sick in bed in the early-1960’s). Interestingly, the famous “Left-wing” composer, Mikis Theodorakis, would be given the nickname “Mickey Mouse” by his youthful “Left-wing” fans around Europe (cf. G. Malouhos, Άξιος Εστί, Εκδοτικός Οργανισμός Λιβάνη, Athens, 2005).
  • Further, the Walt Disney brand would be a major cultural strand in the rising milieu of counterculture of the 1960’s in the USA (cf. Douglas Brode, From Walt to Woodstock: How Disney Created the Counterculture, University of Texas Press, 2004). This would mean it would play a key part in the youth revolution of the period. Thus, it would not only be “kids” who would be appreciative of the Walt Disney brand – teenagers would also identify with certain Disney “heroes”, and this would be especially the case when these “heroes” were a reproduction of motion picture characters (such as “The Lone Ranger”, “Lord Jim”, “Tarzan”, “Hercules” and others). We know that Greek youth would be avid cinema-goers, and they would combine such cinema-going with the reading of Walt Disney cartoon books (for excellent descriptions of what happened in Greek movie theatres in the period under discussion, cf. Haritopoulos, op. cit., pp. 49-54; pp. 215-216; and especially pp. 339-341; as regards the reading of literature related to movies, cf. p. 351).
  • On the other hand, it has been argued (cf., for instance, Mollet, op. cit.) that the Walt Disney brand would capitalize on “American naiveté” to infuse cartoon viewers with “false hopes”. But in the context of the Greek reality, such “naiveté” would actually come to reinforce the popular anti-American sentiments and the “cultural superiority” of things Greek as felt by the Greek popular masses which we have referred to above – it would, in other words, confirm sentiments identified by the research work of Lialiouti (op. cit.). How effective could such infusion of “false hopes” have been when this dimension of the Disney paradigm came face-to-face with a Greek public which looked down on things American? Haritopoulos (op. cit., p. 278) informs us that Greek-Americans visiting Greece would be given derogatory names by the natives such as «Αμερικλάνος» and «βλαχοπρόξενος». Thus, if it be true that the Disney cartoon did carry whatever elements of “United States nationalism” (Mollet), such “nationalism” – and its concomitant “hopes” – would be completely neutralized by sentiments of “cultural supremacy” on the part of the Greek popular masses as identified by Lialiouti. Similarly, attempts to sell the idea of a “new American childhood”, while perhaps highly functional for the American child, would be absolutely dysfunctional in the Greek case (and cf. our discussion of the Quaker Oats advertizing discourse with reference to “BRAIN AND BRAWN”, etc.). What we are suggesting, in other words, is that the “naiveté” of Disney cartoons would actually be self-revelatory in a counter-productive manner: it would not be the “superiority” of the American psyche that would come to light but its exact opposite, at least as regards the Greek adult (such illumination thus rendering the promotion of whatever “false hopes” a rather toothless enterprise). This, of course, stands in direct contradistinction to what we have said above as regards the role of the Disney brand as a paradigm of popular culture or of counterculture, both of which could appeal to the Greek popular masses. But here we need to recognize that the inner networks of all ideological practices – such as the imbibing of the Disney ideological paradigm by the Greek masses – was (and is) ipso facto inherently contradictory, that being the very nature of all ideology, and which constitutes its richness as a “lived’ practice. To try to resolve such internal contradictions – i.e. to try to identify some logical “order” between the component parts of such ideology – is not impossible (we attempted just that in examining the Sinatra “cultural brand” above). Yet still, doing so could perhaps miss the point as regards the nature of all popular “world-views”, which are usually an amalgamation of the so-called “rational” and the so-called “irrational”.
  • Related to the question of “naiveté” and “false hopes” is the well-known issue of “escapism”. Much has been written of the “escapism” that Walt Disney cartoons provided to its audiences (cf., for instance, Mollet, op. cit.). There is certainly much truth in this – but here one needs to examine both the functionality of such “escapism” and its dysfunctionality, especially given the limits of all “escapism”. For the Greek adult, one could not comfortably “escape” to a “place” one did not identify with (and even if one did so, that could not last for long, and frustration would soon set in). For the adult through to the 1980’s, Greek reality was such as to decimate the imaginary world of all Walt Disney dreamlands. Children, on the other hand, could accept such “escapism” so long as they remained children, but their coming-into-the-world would gradually correct the balance between all dreamlands and reality. To the extent that the Walt Disney paradigm could infuse a Greek child with the “false hopes” referred to above, it would only do so in the specific manner that toys would affect it (cf. above, in discussing the introduction of manufactured toys into the lives of Greek kids). But the eidetic-emotional reaction of a Greek child – it being its own real “material of hope” – would also soon smash itself up against its quick loss of innocence (something described rather convincingly both in Haritopoulos (op. cit.) and in Nikos Nikolaides, Ο οργισμένος Βαλκάνιος (op. cit.), amongst many others). What has been called the “seemingly innocent nature of Disney animations” (Mollet, op. cit.) would gradually reveal its own “guilt” vis-à-vis the real world that would circumscribe the maturing Greek child. The apparent “innocence” would gradually rupture: what was once experienced as the “fight” against an animated “Evil” would soon take on the form of a struggle to survive (in the case of Amalia Eleftheriadou, it would be a matter of surviving what we have elsewhere referred to as the “bureaucratic despotism” of the A&M Mill boss), or it would take the form of a struggle to assert one’s own identity as a youth (given the “despotism” of the Greek Patriarchal Family Unit – cf. our study of the Meletiou family at Aliarto).
  • Mollet (op. cit.) has placed much emphasis on the Disney brand’s “association with childhood” – and it is precisely this, we are suggesting, which points to the inherent limits of the brand as an ideological force shaping the minds of the popular masses. Of course, one could permanently carry an influence – in the form of an ideological paradigm – that had bombarded one’s early formative years. Yet still, how such influence was to be carried and the mutations that that would undergo, would itself be determined by the inevitable loss of innocence referred to above.

These are the research pointers that one needs to take into consideration in any attempt at trying to understand what it would mean for the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm – a case so explicitly representative of its local rootedness and cultural adjustment – to finally come to adopt Disney cartoons in its promotional campaigns in the early-1980’s. Before we examine the specific forms in which the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores would engage with such “global” discourse, it would perhaps be interesting to note that, well prior to such engagement, the Greek popular masses had already been introduced to the Disney paradigm at least by the very early-1950’s. We present below a rather lengthy quote of such early exposure and do so because the events described highlight the very specific reaction of the popular masses to Walt Disney cartoons: the reaction of the Greek audiences was totally beyond the expectations and/or intentions of the Disney establishment, and which again verifies that the relationship between any “global brand” and its Greek recipients had never been a one-way imposition of “cultural imperialism”. The text we present is also of special interest because it refers to events taking place in villages of Boeotia. In a book entitled Μαρτυρίες, γεγονότα και μνήμες, 1946-1965 (Εκδόσεις Κονιδάρη, December 2002), Athanasios Mih. Manousopoulos, who had functioned as Prefect of the Nome of Boeotia between 1949-1953, relates the following:

«… πολλοί για πρώτη φορά έβλεπαν κινηματογράφον.
Θα αφηγηθώ περιστατικόν που έγινε το βράδυ της
ημέρας των εγκαινίων του καινούργιου, μοναδικού
δρόμου, η διάνοιξις του οποίου συνέδεσε το χωριό επί
του Ελικώνος, Κούκουρα με τον υπόλοιπον κόσμον…
Ο δρόμος, ελεύθερος πια έφερε την ίδια ημέρα και το…
κινηματογραφικόν συνεργείον της Νομαρχίας. Όλοι
όσοι είχαν μετάσχει στην τελετή, στον αγιασμό που έκανε
ο μητροπολίτης Θηβών και Λεβαδείας Πολύκαρπος,
παρέμειναν και για την κινηματογραφική προβολή. Το
συνεργείον τοποθέτησε την οθόνη, το λευκό πανί σε μια
πλευρά της εκκλησίας του χωριού και το πλήθος του
λαού κατέλαβε θέσεις, περιμένοντας με αγωνία την
μεγάλη στιγμή της έναρξης… Το κοινό παρακολουθεί με
προσοχή την προβολή…, μεταξύ αυτών και πολλοί
τσοπαναραίοι που έχουν φέρει κοντά εκεί τα ποίμνια
για να μη χάσουν την μοναδική ευκαιρία να δουν κι αυτοί
κινηματογράφο. Στη συνέχεια ήλθε η σειρά για διασκεδαστική
προβολή Μίκι-Μάους. Πρωταγωνιστούν μια επιθετική
γάτα και ένα συμπαθέστατο ποντικάκι. Κάποια στιγμή η γάτα
σε ενέδρα σε μια γωνιά περιμένει το θύμα της που ερχόταν
χορεύοντας ξέγνοιαστο. Όταν πλησίαζε προς την ενέδρα –
προηγούμενα η σκηνή έδειξε μόνο το κεφάλι της γάτας με
τα σουβλερά δόντια της, που κατέλαβε με μεγέθυνση
ολόκληρο το πανί – άρχισε η αγωνία των θεατών από φόβον
μη κατασπαραχθεί το ποντικάκι και όταν αυτό πλησίασε
επικίνδυνα κοντά στην παγίδα, τότε έγινε κάτι που ξεφεύγει
 από τα όρια της λογικής, κάτι το ξέφρενο, το εκπληκτικό.
 Ταυτόχρονα ακούστηκεν από πολλούς “τσουτ-τσουτ” και
 μερικοί που βρήκαν πέτρες πέταξαν στο πανί για να διώξουν
 την γάτα, για να σώσουν το ποντικάκι που τους είχε γίνει
 αγαπητόν. Συνέβη το άγιον έτος 1951»
(cf. viotiastory.blogspot.gr/2007/05/blog-post.html, my emph.).

We present this event only so that we may have some idea of how the Greek rural popular masses would ‘receive’ a Walt Disney cartoon film: they would do so in a manner which its  creators could not possibly have imagined. We clearly see here how the “logic” of the Disney paradigm would simply clash with the “logic” of it audience: the latter would naturally respond in ways which directly reflected their own life-experience. It goes without saying that, by the early-1980’s, the Greek popular masses could themselves have smiled ironically at what had happened on the mountains of Boeotia in 1951. And yet, even by the 1980’s, their “modern” socio-cultural life-experience cannot possibly be equated to that of the average American, and the Disney “empire” would still not have been able to predict how its creations would be interpreted by Greek audiences (popular interpretations could only have been grasped with some degree of accuracy on the basis of the research pointers we have presented above). In any case, it was just such Greek public to which the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» department stores would be directing their Disney-inspired promotional campaign. What form would that take in the early-1980’s?

The «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» promotional campaign of the early-1980’s was being managed by the local advertizing company, «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ». We know of the basic orientation of this campaign based on a 1983 TV commercial which aimed at persuading the popular masses to visit the stores. «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ» knew that it would be wise to maintain delicate “balances” in its discourse whereby both the “traditional Greekness” of the stores would be preserved and the “global” element would be assimilated, but in a manner which would not violate such “Greekness”. As such, its campaign, launched in the spring of 1983, would be a triple combination of ‘symbols’ covering the whole gamut of the Greek experience. The component parts of such discourse would include the following elements:

  • Walt Disney cartoon films would be shown within the department stores, obviously meant to attract children;
  • A variety of artifacts would be exhibited, all of which related directly to the Greek Orthodox Easter;
  • A spring flower-show would accompany the whole set-up, thus hearkening to the pre-Christian rural rituals celebrating fertility.

The campaign thus combined the “global”, the Greek Christian, and the pagan into one discourse – by the early-1980’s, all three such elements expressed the psyche of the Greek popular masses, whether consciously or latently. The “global”, the “local” and the “residual” had been assimilated into a single junction. Such cultural junction, also bringing together the “urban” with the “rural”, fully expressed both the history of the owners of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» and the manner in which the Greek-rooted «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ» advertizing company had been functioning thus far. Both the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm and the advertizing company with which it cooperated would attempt to capture the Greek experience of the new “Type” of Greek qua cultural “allroundman” (as D. Kiberd would put it – following Joyce – with reference to the Irish case, cf. “Introduction” to Ulysses, op. cit, p. lxxviii).

We shall close our discussion of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» case by examining three rather controversial issues which have always beset debates around the role of Greek endogenous capital. These issues may be put as follows: Firstly, to what extent is it true to say that the advertizing discourse of a firm such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» had been characterized by so-called “nationalist propaganda”? Secondly, to what extent is it true to say that the central advertizing slogans of a firm such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» actually imposed cultural standards on the masses in a manipulative manner? And thirdly, to what extent is it true to say that the style of advertizing of a firm such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» merely mimicked that of the global advertizing giants? Much of what has been said above has already gone some way in answering these types of questions, but because very specific critiques have been made pertaining to the ideological role of local capitals such as «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ», we shall need to deal with each of these issues in turn.

Let us begin with the first issue, which wants to suggest that all private, capitalist enterprises in Greece – including endogenous capitals such as that of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» – necessarily engaged in “Rightwing” or “reactionary” “nationalist propaganda” in the immediate post-war period. This has been the classic position of the Greek “Left” as a whole and is quite obvious in the academic work of writers such as Roupa (op. cit). To support such a position, Roupa (p. 258) presents us with an «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertisement which had been published in the newspaper Ελευθερία, dated 27.10.1946, and which read as follows:

«Όχι! Η Ελλάς δεν υποκύπτει ποτέ».

At face value, such discourse certainly smacks of “nationalism” and, in the context of a Civil War waged between communist-led guerillas and a “nationalist” regular army supported by the USA, the discourse seems to be openly taking sides and doing so in a manner reminiscent of “Cold War” terminology. But if one were to delve into the matter a bit more scrupulously, one would find that the Roupa interpretation is absolutely simplistic, to say the least. Five points may be made here which, put together, turn the tables upside down:

  • The «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertisement, with its phrase «δεν υποκύπτει», may be said to be directly expressing the mass popular sentiment of a new-found post-war confidence discussed above. Such confidence was both “popular” and “national”.
  • Related to the above, and based on our discussion of the Lialiouti findings regarding anti-American sentiments, it may be argued that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» discourse essentially expresses the boosted ego of a people whose struggle against Nazi Germany had come to assume truly legendary proportions in world history.
  • Further, and perhaps more importantly, the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertisement may be seen as a perfect example of a patriotic discourse fully representative of a national, endogenous non-monopoly commercial capital deeply rooted in and adjusted to local conditions.
  • The latter point may be taken to be controversial and open to further debate as to the meaning of the concept of “patriotism”. But “patriotism” at that period of time, and in the immediate aftermath of the German occupation, would cover both “Left” and “Right”: in fact, both wings would be concerned with the question of national reconstruction and would even, at times, try to cooperate for the purpose of such reconstruction. According to M. Psalidopoulos, for instance, attempts to reconstruct the Greek economy on the part of “ΠΕΕΑ” (“Πολιτικής Επιτροπής Εθνικής Απελευθέρωσης”) and the Government of National Unity in 1944 had had the official support of ΕΑΜ itself (in Paul A. Porter, Ζητείται: Ένα θαύμα για την Ελλάδα, Μεταμεσονύκτιες Εκδόσεις, Athens, 2006, pp. 25-26). Further, “Leftwing” intellectuals at the time were cooperating with a large number of mechanics and technocrats in attempts to explore various models of economic reconstruction (via the «Επιστήμη-Ανοικοδόμηση» Association, cf. Psalidopoulos, ibid.). Thus, whatever the later conflicts between “Left” and “Right”, the whole question of “patriotism” and of “national reconstruction” were not issues that belonged to the exclusive domain of either of the two sides. It is in terms of this real context that the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» advertizing discourse needs to be understood, and reducing its message to that of a “reactionary” “nationalist propaganda” is absurd.
  • But putting aside all such perhaps abstract considerations, one could pose the following down-to-earth question: what, in fact, was the political “world-view” of the proprietors of «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm? Were they hard-core “Right-wing nationalists” who used the opportunity to promote their commodities so as to brainwash the Greek masses with “Cold-War”, anti-communist ideology? Were they, on the other hand, cold, apolitical businessmen whose singular concern was profit-making? A doyen of the Greek “Left”, Stelios Elliniades, is highly informative on this question, and what he has to say is very revealing as regards the possible ideological orientations of at least some sections of Greek endogenous non-monopoly capital. In an article entitled «Τέχνη και Αριστερά: 50 χρόνια από τον Επιτάφιο» (cf. Δρόμος, 13.11.2010), he writes: «Ο Τάκης Β. Λαμπρόπουλος, της οικογένειας των πολυκαταστημάτων Αφοι Λαμπρόπουλοι, στο σπίτι του οποίου είδα αναρτημένα στο τοίχο τα πρωτότυπα ζωγραφικά έργα της Ρωμιοσύνης και του Άξιον Εστί, και ο έτερος των καινοτόμων Αλέκος Πατσιφάς, ιδιοκτήτης της ΛΥΡΑ, είναι αστοί που δεν έχουν ταμπού και προκαταλήψεις. Αυτοί οι επιχειρηματίες δημιουργούν το κατάλληλο περιβάλλον για να ευδοκιμήσει το ελληνικό τραγούδι… Στις τέχνες, φωτισμένοι αστοί και αριστεροί πάλευαν από κοινού για τον πολιτισμό…» (my emph.). Here we clearly see that at least certain representatives of Greek endogenous capital would play an organic role in the development of a “national culture”, or in what Elliniades also calls “a progressive culture”. As in 1944, so also in the 1960’s, elements of both the “Left” and of the Greek ‘bourgeoisie’ would engage in “alliances” meant to either “reconstruct” the country (1944) or to culturally rejuvenate it in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm would, not only re-clothe the Greek popular masses, but would also participate in the formation of a “national culture” through the promotion of the so-called “progressive song”. By the 1960’s, Takis Lambropoulos would be promoting the “Left-wing song” (compositions of Theodorakis and others) through the record company, “Columbia-Αφοι Λαμπρόπουλοι”, which had been in operation since the 1920’s and would finally be sold to EMI in 1969. We have elsewhere critically examined the role of the “political song” in 1960’s Greece (cf. our paper on this issue) – here, we merely want to point to the political/cultural stance of at least one member of the Lambropoulos family and draw the obvious conclusions regarding the overall social discourse of such elements of Greek society. Whatever insinuations about “nationalist propaganda” in the advertizing discourse of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm, therefore, hold no water. Perhaps we should also note at this point that much of the “political song” of the period (pre- and post-war) was itself “patriotic”, aiming at a reconciliation of the “Left” and the “Right” – consider, for instance, Ritsos’ famous poem “Romiosyne” (written in the 1940’s and later set to the music of Theodorakis), where it is explicitly declared: “This earth/Is theirs and ours; nobody can take it from us” (cf. Alan Bold (ed.) “The Penguin Book of Socialist Verse”, Penguin Books, 1970, p. 320).

The second issue, that regarding the advertizing tactics of the «ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ» firm – and  which are said to have been some form of an imposed manipulation of the tastes of the Greek consumer – has arisen due to a long-standing slogan that had been adopted by the firm and which had come to characterize the semantic core of its various promotional campaigns. Such central slogan, which was a creation of the «ΑΛΕΚΤΩΡ» advertizing company, had been consistently used starting from 1960 and continued right through to the early-1980’s. The slogan went as follows:

 «Διαλέγουμε πριν από εσάς
 για εσάς»
(cf. inter alia, athinapisovitrina.blogspot.gr).

Alternatively, the selfsame slogan could appear only slightly amended as such:

ΑΦΟΙ ΛΑΜΠΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΙ…
Διαλέγουν πριν από σας –
για σας!»
(cf. Akropolis, 5.12.1965, p. 3).

One may quite easily argue that here we have a case of discourse which openly and arrogantly admits its intention to choose fashion tastes for the popular masses in the absence of these masses. And, if that be the case, we would here have a case of “interventionism” imposing itself on the consumer. Further, to the extent that it assumes a superior knowledge of taste vis-à-vis that of the popular masses, it might even considered to be “provocative”. Such an interpretation cannot be rejected out of hand. In any case, as there is no iron law which says that al