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Lévy prepares for e-day

Some may carp about the battered euro, but Maurice Lévy has only good things to say about it - and why not?

Some may carp about the battered euro, but Maurice Lévy has only good things to say about it - and why not? The European Central Bank recently awarded Lévy's Paris-based advertising agency, Publicis Groupe, an E80 million ($70.5 million) account for a euro information campaign. The agency's brief: to make the 302 million citizens of the 12-nation European Union comfortable with the euro, which will replace francs, marks and all other member currencies on January 1, 2002. Seven euro bills and eight euro coins will debut on what Lévy calls "e-day."

Publicis, the world's fifth-largest ad agency, was selected over more than 200 bidders for the ECB account. "A lot of our competitors misunderstood the mission and presented campaigns that tried to sell the euro," says Lévy. "There is no longer any question of whether we adopt the euro or not - it's all about informing people, and we understood this." Publicis' 11-language campaign, slated to kick off in September, will focus on the euro's introduction date, denominations and antiforgery features and give instructions for changing national coins and banknotes into the new currency.

After spending E98,000 testing phrases and themes on 1,000 people from the participating countries, Lévy and the ECB have chosen their slogan: "The euro. Our money." This message is "simple, strong and true," says Lévy, who doesn't intend to address the thornier issue of the euro's decline against the dollar.