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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » June 25, 2008
Create & Care
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Wind in Her Sails
June 25, 2008   
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Maciej Pawlicki, the commissioner in charge of the Polish pavilion at Expo 2008, in Saragossa, Spain, talks to Zofia Szelińska.

Do you like challenges?
I love challenges. I actually only get a kick from extremely difficult tasks.

What do Spaniards think of Poland?
We have done a lot of research and the results are not promising. The research shows Spaniards think of Poland as a sad, poor, cold, dark, ugly and uninteresting postcommunist country. Obviously, some Spanish businesspeople know better these days, having chosen Poland as a strategic destination for investment.

And what do Spanish people think of Polish people?
They see us positively, or even very positively. They believe we are a hard-working, honest, reliable, well-educated and talented nation, although somewhat gloomy and critical. All in all, their opinion is very positive, an opinion that has been earned by both recent and previous waves of emigrants.

Why is it so difficult to market Poland internationally? I cannot imagine how Poland could possibly be unattractive to, for example, people from sun-scorched Spain. Do they know how many lakes and islands we have? Do they know we have the Biebrza River, the Rospuda Valley and unique forests like nothing else they can see elsewhere in Europe?
They are completely oblivious to it all; their knowledge of Poland is practically zero and so when it comes to this, our job in Saragossa will be highly rewarding. It is as if we were to notify somebody that the stock they bought and forgot about has appreciated 1,000 percent. We are going to show them that the most glorious place in the world is just a three-hour flight away.

The leading theme of Expo 2008 is water and sustainable development. While a fascinating topic, it may perpetuate the image of Poland as a cold country of wild places, populated by bison and storks, which is not the image the country wants to project.
We will be perceived as a dynamic, modern and fascinating country, the leader in its region and one of the leaders in Europe as a whole. People at the Expo will see Poland as a country of creative people determined to succeed. Besides, there is nothing wrong in highlighting the Polish wilderness and bison, it is just a Polish complex to feel embarrassed about the magnificent natural beauty of Poland, which is unique.

You yourself mentioned the unique forests here-that may turn out to be a good way to start to get Spaniards interested in Poland.

Who coined the slogan "Create & Care?" What does it actually mean?
I came up with it as a summary of what we want to say at the Expo. Creativity is the keyword in our presentation and should become the keyword in the promotion of Poland in general. Unlike 20 years ago, discipline, organization and consistency are no longer the key factors in success. Today, success is determined by innovation, resourcefulness and the ability to quickly adjust to variable conditions and overcome or circumvent obstacles. It's no longer the hardware, it's the software. We Poles have it in our blood to be able to deal with any situation, if only because of 250 years of history of coping with oppression. Creativity is in our blood. The point is to make proper use of it. As for "care," it is the other element of no lesser importance than "create." It is related to the Christian heritage of our culture and identity and the heritage of Solidarity. It is about not living in a world of egoists, but caring for one another and for the culture and values that were passed on to us, the heritage of civilization and nature. The alliteration in this English phrase underlines the fact that the two tasks, so different yet so important, cannot exist without each other. We also interpret creativity as an invitation to active relaxation and unconventional tourism, hence the sails, jet skis, kitesurfing and windsurfing equipment in our pavilion. It is all so dynamic! We actually have another slogan: "Poland-Wind in Her Sails."

The Polish pavilion in Saragossa is extremely modern. Will the designers, the KIPP Projekt architectural studio in Warsaw, be as successful as architect Krzysztof Ingarden was in Aichi, Japan?
I am absolutely confident they will. Marcin Przygoda, the chief architect, came up with a very beautiful and modern vision of a sculpture-like impression of an exclusive yacht. Why a yacht? Well, Poland is a leader in the production of exclusive sailboats, 95 percent of which are sold abroad. They are beautifully designed and with fine finishing work. Inside the pavilion, these modern forms are accompanied by items that refer to traditional knowledge of the use of therapeutic waters. The pavilion is also loaded with multimedia presentations created by animated-film maker and Academy Award nominee Tomasz Bagiński, and Andrzej Strzelecki, among others.

How many visitors are you looking to attract? What do you think they will remember most from the Polish pavilion?
The pavilion's capacity will not allow more than 700,000 visitors. But then again, there are multimedia messages to hundreds of millions of people, as the Expo is in the center of media attention. Our visitors will leave the Polish pavilion much richer, because they will feel enchanted by Poland and totally in love with the country.

What events and what people will feature in the Polish cultural program at Expo 2008? Do you have an ace up your sleeve to make sure Expo 2008 audiences will have vivid and fond memories of Polish Day, July 6?
The Expo will be all ours that day. Several hundred Polish performers will come to the event July 6, suffice to mention such music acts as Raz Dwa Trzy, Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa, Sinfonietta Cracovia, Grupa MoCarta, Leszek Możdżer, Antonina Krzysztoń, Joanna Jabłczyńska, and Margo. During the preliminary round of the Polish Eurovision contest, Margo received the most votes from viewers and should have been the one to sing for Poland in the Eurovision Song Contest. The hosts of the Polish Expo concerts will be Olga Bończyk and Filip Łobodziński. We also have a few surprises in store.

What is the cost of the project you are in charge of?
Zl.28 million.

I have to ask this question: will the event prove value for money? And who is going to measure this?
There is a saying in business: you can manufacture a good product, but the real trick is to sell it. The market is getting crowded. Poland is an excellent "product," but most of the world is unaware of it. We have to be very active in the competition to grab the attention of consumers; we need to work hard to get our ideas across. The money invested in the Expo will be recouped many times over, but not in six months or 12. Solid and well-thought-out participation in the largest promotion event in several years has to be part of a long-term promotion campaign. Over the last two decades, Spaniards have excelled in promoting their country "brand." This is what I call a long-term campaign, it has to be carried out with unrelenting consistency. However, some effects are visible instantly-after our success at the Expo in Aichi, there was a sharp rise in the number of trips booked to Poland.

This is your chance to win over people abroad and bury negative stereotypes of Poland. Are such expectations too high?
We work under the marketing principle of "evoking warm feelings," to make sure that after a visit to our pavilion, everybody has positive associations with everything Polish. This way, we not only want people to feel the urge to visit Poland as soon as possible, but we will seek to evoke interest and a positive attitude to all things Polish, including Polish products and political ideals. Poland has the wind in its sails. All we need to do is keep on the right course.
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