Antiquity for Publicity, or: Publicity for Antiquity?

The presence of Classical Antiquity in our world is sometimes stronger than we are aware of it. This potential is used by the creators of marketing campaigns. They use the associations the names of the ancient gods and heroes evoke to build a positive image of a given brand. Let’s have a look at three examples, chosen with the following criteria: one is crucial for the reception of Classical Antiquity in the history of marketing and the two next are the examples I have discovered most recently.

It is not widely known today that in 1947 Ajax the Great from the myth of the Trojan War gave his name to a line of detergents. This mythological hero is a bit forgotten in our times, but he belonged to the canon of education still in the late 1940s and the founders of the brand assured us that he was famous for his strength and “for marching into battle with the cleanest uniform” (, no longer active). Ajax fitted perfectly also into the first slogans used in the brand’s advertisements: “Stronger than dirt”, or even “Stronger than grease”, which in English evokes an additional association with the land of myths – Greece. But if the Greek hero resembled sometimes a Mediaeval knight in these advertisements? Well… all is possible in the field of reception:

The time passes, but the power of Classical Antiquity is as strong as ever. Today, on 21th April, the birthday of Rome, it is worth to recall a recent commercial of a kind of chips with Julius Caesar in the leading role. Though there is room enough also for Brutus in the clip:

The commercial presentations have a say also in the reception of the fundamental myths, like the one of Sisyphus. One may wonder what Albert Camus would have thought had he been given the opportunity to come accross this clip:

The research into the reception of Classical Antiquity in marketing campaings is still awaiting for a deep elaboration. A topic particularly interesting in this context may be the branch of commercial presentations directed at young audience. But this is a theme for another blog post in the future. And probably it is also worth posing the following question: Do the commercial presentations only draw the inspiration from the ancient heritage or do they also inspire us to study the ancient myths and tales, or at least to re-check some details in the Internet, while watching an especially good campaign?…

Post by Katarzyna Marciniak


Martina Treu, “Ajax”, in: Rosanna Lauriola, Kyriakos N. Demetriou, ed., Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Sophocles, Brill, Leiden–Boston 2017, p. 69.