Four months ahead of the introduction of the euro currency across twelve of the continent’s leading economies, the European Central Bank today launches a major advertising campaign designed to familiarize citizens with the new money.

Says ECB president Wim Duisenberg: “In some 100 days' time, the euro will be in our pockets. It will be our money, a tangible reality and not just the ‘virtual’ market currency which it has thus far been perceived to be."

However, the currency itself, note and coins, will be kept firmly under lock and key until January 1 2002 when bank cash dispensing machines across twelve countries will cease disgorging national currencies and start issuing euro notes. Although retailers will accept the old money for several months, most will give change in euros from day one.

The theme of the ad campaign is "look but don't touch," according to Maurice Levy, chief executive of Publicis, the Paris-based ad network responsible for the campaign. Ever the archetypal Frenchman, Levy added: “It's frustrating, but it is frustrating the way it is when you go to a show and you see a young woman take off her gloves one by one … but the excitement is still there.”

News source: New York Times