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The Warsaw Voice » Society » October 22, 2008
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Spotlight on Poland
October 22, 2008   
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Poland was heavily promoted on CNN International during the week of Oct. 6-10. Eye on Poland: Country at the Crossroads was the name of a series of reports from Poland during which anchor Fionnuala Sweeney and a team of reporters introduced viewers to Poland, its flavors and contrasts, and highlighted the changes that have taken place here over the past years.

Diversity was the keyword. The reporters visited sites familiar from postcards, like the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw and the pier in Sopot, but they also looked into less readily accessible places like the F-16 air base in Krzesiny and the bus factory near Poznań.

Watching successive reports, viewers could find out why some giant corporations have moved their factories to Poland, where street races of the kind shown in the film The Fast and the Furious can be found, what's happening on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and what has been dubbed the Pearl of the Baltic.

Polish cities could highlight what they offer businesses and tourists before an international audience of 140 million; those that took advantage of this opportunity included Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań, Sopot and Hel.

A lot of space was devoted to the economy and business. Polish companies operating domestically or internationally as well as business personalities were featured in the main business program, Business International.

Poland is the first Central European country to be presented in the Eyes On... series which has already shown France, Brazil, China and Lebanon, among other countries. Described as a country with a proud past and a promising future, presented as a country with growing economic and political potential, Poland received a great opportunity to show off its best side, at a time when Poles are still learning how to use promotion and advertising tools to attract investors and tourists to their country.

The founding of The Warsaw Voice in 1988 was a pioneering project aimed at providing foreigners with a more in-depth look at Poland. At a time when advertising of products and services in Poland was negligible and no one even dreamed of promoting individual cities or the entire country abroad, The Warsaw Voice-the country's first English-language paper-set out to provide reliable and comprehensive news and familiarize foreigners living in and visiting Poland with local customs and the country's special character. During the 20 years since it was established, The Warsaw Voice has supported many initiatives promoting Warsaw and Poland abroad.

The Warsaw Destination Alliance (WDA) has been operating in Warsaw since 2003. This is a non-profit foundation formed by Warsaw's largest hotel chains. Members include airlines, restaurants, museums, foodstuffs companies and the National Sports Center, the main organization behind the construction of the National Stadium. The initiators of the WDA were Alex Kloszewski, managing director of the InterContinental Warsaw Hotel, and Gerd Bauer from the Sheraton Hotel. The main goal of the WDA has been to build up a positive image of Warsaw around the world as an attractive business and tourist destination and to foster its development. By working hand in hand with the city authorities, the WDA promotes coordination of public and private sector activities.

The WDA was the first to promote Warsaw in foreign media, organizing a total of six campaigns since 2004. The first promotion of Warsaw took place on BBC World that year. These professional commercials, aired in two stages, "Let's Warsaw Together" and "Get Away From the Grey", reached millions of viewers.

Taking advantage of that experience, Warsaw's City Promotion Office organized a new BBC World campaign this year, financed from the municipal budget for the first time. Between Oct. 6 and Nov. 16 Warsaw is being promoted on BBC World in three 60-second commercials in which residents of Warsaw such as Richard Berkeley, president of the New Chamber Orchestra Foundation, Agnieszka Brzezańska, a Polish artist, and Cris de la Pena, a choreographer of Latin American dances present three different images of the city. The aim of the campaign is to boost Warsaw's image abroad but also to show it in a new, unexpected and attractive light as a city of diversity, full of contrasts and surprises.

Increasingly professional promotional campaigns bring Poland measurable financial benefits. According to the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, revenue from incoming tourism grew from $6.2 billion to $10.6 billion in 2005-2007. In 2007 alone this revenue increased by 47 percent compared to 2006.

Magdalena Błaszczyk
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