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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » January 27, 2011
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The Irresistible Charm of Prewar Ads
January 27, 2011   
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Gramophones, fountain pens, cameras, eau de cologne, hand massagers, and state lottery tickets are just some of the products that tempted Polish shoppers from the pages of the nation’s prewar magazines and newspapers in the period leading up to Christmas. The press was deemed the most effective vehicle for advertisements in those pre-TV days.

More than 120 of these ads have been culled from newspapers and magazines stored in the Warsaw State Archives (APW) and are now on display at an online exhibition prepared by APW entitled Najmilszym prezentem gwiazdkowym jest… (The Nicest Christmas Present Is…).

The periodicals include Tygodnik Ilustrowany, Kurier Warszawski, ¦wiatowid, and women’s magazine Bluszcz.

To view the exhibition, point your browser at www.warszawa.ap.gov.pl/swiatecznereklamy.html or go to the APW head office in the Old Town in Warsaw and watch it on the TV screen in the window of the building on the corner of Krzywe Koło and Nowomiejska streets (heading out of the Old Town towards the Barbican).

These commercials are accompanied by commentary from prewar advertising manuals. Their advice gives a glimpse into advertising copywriting techniques back then. These were rich and varied, followed Western models and utilized the latest psychological discoveries. They might appear a little antiquated at first blush but take a deeper look and they are all too modern.
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