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Empty Billboards

Photographer:Orestis Panagiotou and Alkis Konstantinidis

 

Just as ancient temples remind humanity of the once great Greek Empire, empty billboards represent Greece’s current situation. They can be now easily found in Greece’s capital, Athens. They are ragged and empty, or else carrying posters so old that the sun has bleached them illegible. As, for the moment, it is not certainly known if there are no plans to be removed, they remain, in a way, as monuments of the past, and the message they convey is the absence of message. As turnover in retail trade has dropped by 54.6 per cent since 2009, the advertising companies that own the billboards have suffered greatly from the economic crisis, as those advertised, in their attempts to reduce operational costs, have slashed their advertising expenses. Data of the Hellenic Statistical Authority show that in the first six months of 2012, the reduction in advertising expenses in total dropped by 29.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2011, a year in which turnover had already been reduced by 15.5 per cent in comparison to 2010. Thousands of employees in the sector are among the 26.5 per cent of the Greeks who are unemployed, while those who are still employed are experiencing harrowing labor conditions, often without complaint, as advertising is one of those sectors that is not represented by its own union. According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.), unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2012 was a 26.0 per cent of the labour force (economically active population), while the industrial production index (excluding construction) in February 2013 dropped 3.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2012. The turnover Index in Retail Trade fell 15.7 per cent in January 2013, compared with January 2012.