"Time to set a sign of solidarity" - How my Facebook campaign about Greece went viral

„This Facebook User will be going on holiday to Greece …“

Three days ago, I chose a picture from Wikimedia Commons, did some careful artwork on it and published the result on Facebook, telling that I would spend my holidays in Greece this year: „Dieser Facebook User urlaubt heuer in Griechenland … denn die beste Finanzhilfe ist, in diesem Land Gast zu sein.“ (www.j.mp/UrlaubinGriechenland)


In the first two days, the picture gained 121 "Likes" and was shared 237 times – not only in German language, but also by users abroad. Since I was asked the meaning of the German words, I set up another version in English (www.j.mp/HolidaysinGreece, later: www.j.mp/HolidaysInGreece):   „This Facebook User will be going on holiday to Greece … because visiting Greece is the best financial support by far!“


A huge boost was done when a good friend of mine, Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis from Bournemouth University started to share the news to his widespread contacts in the international tourism and travel industry. Suddenly, the pictures went viral on an international scale – and especially in Greece where Dimitrios did his very best to alert influencers.


The momentum was there. On the same day, I was asked to publish a header pic for Facebook timelines, too. So this was the beginning of www.j.mp/HeaderAidForGreece – which has started to spread across the internet, too …


More than 1000 shares: The campaign gains momentum

Just one day after the launch of the english sujets, the campaign had gained an enormous momentum. My „Holidays in Greece“ sujets travelled all around the world within 24 hours and were shared from New York to Hongkong. All in all, at noon of May 25th, the campaign had already reached more than 1000 shares. Facebook users shared the different sujets in German and English, commented on them and changed their timeline header to the campaign sujet:

Throughout the next days, numbers and attention began to rise at an international level. More than 2000 shares, over 100 reports on greek websites like mediagate.gr and prionokordela.gr created even more buzz around the campaign.


Another huge update followed on Mai 30th: There are now even more language versions available for the „Holidays in Greece“ campaign (see the photo gallery below):

English version: www.j.mp/HolidaysInGreece
English timeline header: www.j.mp/HeaderAidForGreece
German version: www.j.mp/UrlaubinGriechenland
French version: www.j.mp/VacancesEnGrece
Italian version: www.j.mp/VacanzeinGrecia

Traditional Chinese: www.j.mp/HolidaysGreeceTC
Simplified Chinese: www.j.mp/HolidaysGreeceSC

„Proud to have shared this!"

After just a very short time, the campaign managed already to set free a wave of appreciation, encouragement, hospitality and motivation. Some of the statements and comments are gathered in the following gallery:

A lot of comments and sharing texts revealed that the Greece and the Greek people are extremely happy and thankful to be acknowledged because of their unique country and their traditional hospitality – values that are not in crisis even now:

My learnings from this campaign: Travelling to Greece is even more important right now during the crisis. It allows the Greek people not only to maintain their earnings from a key economic sector – but also to keep their dignity. Even more, for foreign guests a visit to Greece offers the chance to break up with prejudices and to gain new respect for the country by experiencing its traditional hospitality. So we can be sure: Greek hospitality is still not in crisis.


I guess, this post by Maria Papazoglou explains why the „Holidays in Greece“ campaign reveals so many positive emotions: 


μια απλή και ανθρώπινη πρωτοβουλία, έχει ξεσηκώσει τις τελευταίες ημέρες τα social media κ έχει αναπαραχθεί από μέσα ενημέρωσης, ενώσεις, φορείς τουρισμού και απλούς χρήστες.
Η τεράστια αυτή ανταπόκριση δείχνει ότι χρειαζόμαστε απλά και ξεκάθαρα λόγια για να περάσουμε τα μηνύματα, λόγια που να μιλούν στην ψυχή μας!


„A simple and human initiative has revolutionized in the last days; it has been reproduced on social media by the media, associations, tourism institutions and ordinary users. This huge response shows that we need simple and clear words to pass messages, words that speak to our souls!

(via Google Translate)

Why did I do it?

Since there have been questions about my motivation behind the „Holidays in Greece" sujets, let me give you some background informations:

No, „Holidays in Greece" is not a purchased activity; I do not get paid for the idea and distribution by the Greek National Tourism Organisation or anybody else. I had the idea and developed the sujets on my own because I felt that the common sentiment against Greece is strongly influenced by media reports and headlines. 

With 20 years of experience in the media and tourism industry, with a lot of visits to Greece and my plans to spend this year's holidays on the Peloponnese, it was my very own intention to set a statement. 

Even more, I am overly happy that these sujets were able to create positive sentiments and an emotional counterpart to the prevailing sentiment against Greece. Therefore, it's only fair to thank everybody who contributes by sharing these sujets – and to change the common opinion about Greece and the Greek people!


„Holidays in Greece“ - the campaign on Facebook

I have written this blog post in English since the campaign has gained an international momentum. You are very welcome to like, share and use the different pictures (www.j.mp/HolidaysInGreece, www.j.mp/HolidaysinGreece, www.j.mp/UrlaubinGriechenland, www.j.mp/HeaderAidForGreecewww.j.mp/VacanzeinGreciawww.j.mp/VacancesEnGrece) for free!


My special thanks go out to Nikos Kanellopoulos (www.diafragma.gr) – without his splendid picture from Santorini this campaign would certainly have never got its optical appeal!

Kommentar schreiben

Kommentare: 8
  • #1

    Günter Exel (Sonntag, 27 Mai 2012 20:06)

    More than 100 stories and blog articles about www.j.mp/HolidaysInGreeceViral on Greek websites already … Folks – that's awesome!

  • #2

    Αννα (Sonntag, 27 Mai 2012 21:16)

    Thank you :-)

  • #3

    Günter Exel (Dienstag, 29 Mai 2012 09:20)

    Dear friends from Greece and abroad,

    the last few days showed a fantastic wave of messages and emotions, of consent and thankfulness around the „Holidays in Greece“ idea.
    Let me once again thank you all for liking, sharing and supporting this campaign!

    I am also honoured by a huge number of friendship request on Facebook throughout the last days. However, I feel a little bit overwhelmed by it, too … I try to keep my Facebook circles open for people I know personally or to whom I am in contact on a business level. Therefore I hope you'll not be too disappointed if I am not able to add all of you as a friend.

    On Facebook, I mainly share informations and links about travel, tourism, social media and marketing in German language. If you are interested in that, I would be happy if you subscribe to my updates – just click on the "Subscribe" button!

    And, of course, if you want to share further thoughts with me, you're always welcome to send me a direct message on Facebook, too!

    All the best – and keep up the spirit!

  • #4

    Konstantinos Chachamis (Dienstag, 29 Mai 2012 13:35)

    Dear Günter,

    I'd like to thank you, about your idea to "advertize" our country. I've visited Austria twice, and I believe that Austrians are very friendly people. I admire your hospitality and your kindness. I am very happy to see that one more time. Theese days, acts like yours, are very important for us. Because we are nice people, we are not thiefs or lazy and we pay our taxes.

    I'm really happy to know that there are people like you.

    Thank's a lot Günter,

    Kind Regards,

    Konstantinos Hahamis

  • #5

    Günter Exel (Mittwoch, 30 Mai 2012 16:09)

    Another huge update … There are now even more language versions available for the „Holidays in Greece“ campaign – just choose the right one to share with your friends:
    English version: www.j.mp/HolidaysInGreece
    English timeline header: www.j.mp/HeaderAidForGreece
    German version: www.j.mp/UrlaubinGriechenland
    French version: www.j.mp/VacancesEnGrece
    Italian version: www.j.mp/VacanzeinGrecia
    You are welcome to tag your friends from these countries on the respective photos – it's a great way to spread the message!

  • #6

    Günter Exel (Mittwoch, 30 Mai 2012 18:26)

    With a little help from my friends (thanks to Rosanna Leung and Dimitrios Buhalis!) we have already two new versions …
    Traditional Chinese: www.j.mp/HolidaysGreeceTC
    Simplified Chinese: www.j.mp/HolidaysGreeceSC

  • #7

    Mike (Donnerstag, 31 Mai 2012 11:37)


    Great idea. I thought of also pushing the greek Eurovision song contest participant in an viral Facebook campaign to show solidarity.
    Did you get an official feedback from the greek tourist board?



  • #8

    Günter Exel (Donnerstag, 31 Mai 2012 11:55)

    Thank you, Michael!
    I guess that everything must fit together – the right time, the right circumstances, the right message. In the first place, a campaign must be able to touch the hearts of all people involved into it. So it's not easy to try programming a success.
    No, there is no official feedback from the GNTB - but my friends from GNTB here in Vienna are very happy about it.
    All the best,