The Balearics may well be one of the lethargic regions in Europe towards the single currency and the introduction of the Euro but tomorrow those small businesses which have yet to adapt to the Euro may be in for a reality check. Like it or not, 300 million citizens of the common currency bloc surrender their national currencies for the euro in January and the job of making them “favourable” to the new notes and coins is shifting into top gear. Tomorrow, August 30 and with E-Day 123 days away, the European Central Bank unveils the exact design of the new notes and kicks off the mainstream information drive to promote the changeover. The advertising agency Publicis won the task of coming up with a common signature to unite a campaign across 12 nations and 10 languages, whose shared experience includes two world wars and the recent blight of mad cow and foot and mouth disease. It produced “the Euro. Our money” to suggest ownership and pride in the project which ECB President Wim Duisenberg declared “holds out a promise which will appeal both to Europeans and to visitors who arrive from around the world.” Not much more has been said of a campaign that will run on television, posters and print in all 12 euro zone countries. All is revealed tomorrow. But it clearly faces a tough sell. Opinion polls show barely half the region want the new notes and many fear being cheated by shopkeepers using the confusion to charge higher prices. In Germany this proportion is 89 percent and even in Italy the mood of the people has soured, despite gaining the low interest rates traditionally reserved for their northern neighbours through monetary union in January 1999. This launched the new currency and fixed its exchange rate with the 11 countries who joined from day one, with Greece winning membership one year later. So the bloc is already past the point of no return, but anxiety is rising. The physical demise of notes and coins will send a cherished part of the national identity literally up in smoke as central banks burn billions of francs, lire and drachmas. In a country like Germany where the mark was a rare symbol of post-war pride, advertising can only do so much to shift opinion against entrenched prejudice. Luckily it won't have to. The main thrust of the brief is to make sure that everyone knows it is coming and can tell a real one from a fake. The seven new notes will be different in size and colour, although their design will be identical in all countries and will depict generic examples of European culture from which all national characteristics have been scrupulously removed.

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