"Yeah, that's totally from Poland"
By Alixandra Rutnik on Dec 17, 2019
Four Polish creatives talk to us about the ad scene across the globe
Poland has been gaining traction on the map in advertising and design– there are some prolific agencies who have been creating some seriously cool ad campaigns. Some of these campaigns have already won awards. Needless to say, Poland’s ad scene needs to be highlighted, appraised, and talked about, regularly. So we asked four professional creatives in that part of the world to tell us about the Polish advertising scene so we could keep you in the know about all that’s hip and cool over there. Here is who we asked–
Dawid Szczepaniak– Executive Creative Director and partner of VMLY&R Poland who is responsible for ending the iconic Polish porn magazine Twój Weekend with “The Last Ever Issue”
Daniel Naborowski– CEO and Co-Founder of TOFU Studio who just launched an intriguing campaign about art called “The Last Judgement”
Marcin Sosiński– Executive Creative Director at McCann Worldgroup Poland who is busy working on creative campaigns that incorporate a stance on social controversies like "WWF Ecopatriots"
Tytus Klepacz– Former Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy Warsaw who recently worked on a campaign titled “Coca-Cola Offside”
And this is what they said–
L-R: Dawid, Daniel, Marcin, Tytus
How would you describe the advertising and design scene in Poland?
Dawid: When speaking about local & global creative reputation– the last decade has definitely been dominated by the big players.
The most prestigious local creative recognition (KTR agency of the year title) was handed out most often to Saatchi & Saatchi and DDB. Only in the last two years their domination was taken over by Ogilvy (2018) and most recently by VMLY&R (2019).
When it comes to global creative reputation, the key players recently are Ogilvy (they won 12 Cannes Lions last year), VMLY&R (won 5 Cannes Lions including the first ever Polish Grand Prix and Titanium), and 180heartbeats+JvM (who won 5 Cannes Lions).
Daniel: The ad scene in Poland probably looks like the other advertising scenes in Europe or The United States. We have several global agencies with global budgets, and we also have small creative studios with small budgets. It’s more of a challenge for TOFU to be recognized because we are not from the capital of Poland– Warsaw. We are a small creative and multidisciplinary studio from Gdansk– Northern Poland, but it’s not an issue.
Marcin: Advertising in Poland is responding to the same challenges that our industry is facing around the world. Poland is a constantly growing and evolving market. On one hand our advantage is that this part of Europe is facing a huge number of unique problems, challenges, and topics, which together with our clients we must respond to. When it comes to the market ecosystem of agencies on our market, in addition to large agencies renowned around the world, independent local agencies pose a real competitive threat, which they approach without any feeling of complexes.
Tytus: After many years of over-intellectualizing and complicated works, simplicity and local insights dominate in Polish festival advertising; something that will arouse the interest of the jury and will be quickly understood, assimilated, and evaluated. For two years, simple but creative ideas from Poland have been gaining recognition of jurors in the world. The last two years have been groundbreaking and have placed Polish advertising at the head of the Central and Eastern European countries. Small creative boutiques focus on design that has a very rich history in Poland– (Google: "polska szkoła plakatu").
Is there a Polish style when it comes to creative work that would make someone say "yeah, that's totally from Poland?”
Dawid: Yes, we definitely have our own unique advertising style – sadly, I must say it has become our curse. As you may know Polish is one of the most complex and complicated languages in the world. Its richness and complexity allows copywriters to play with words, the sound of words, and double or triple meanings of words at a scale that is not possible in most of the other languages.
Over the past decades this technique has resulted in hilarious and very smart campaigns that played with our language, but there is no human way to translate their context or meaning into English. As a result, no jury member in the world would ever find them interesting or award-worthy.
In addition, I believe a new style is emerging before our eyes. It has to do with a new political and social situation in Poland. Our right wing and very polarizing government create countless reasons for bold communication. It fights LGBT community, it denies climate change, it makes friends with Trump, and it tries to forbid sex education and so on.
"As you may know Polish is one of the most complex and complicated languages in the world. Its richness and complexity allows copywriters to play with words, the sound of words, and double or triple meanings of words at a scale that is not possible in most of the other languages."
Daniel: No, but I think we use elements from our own personal history in Polish design. The main point in creative work is good ideas and good designs. When we are talking about the commercial sphere of graphic design, for me the main differentiator is good design. It doesn’t matter if you are living in Gdansk or Oslo. If you are doing a good job you will be recognized sooner or later. For example, I’m from Poland and I'm a huge fan of minimalistic style in graphic design. In Norway and Sweden they have a lot of really good studios. This year I went to the Hong Kong Global Design Awards Ceremony, because TOFU was nominated and I saw minimalistic works by TOMMY LI Design Workshop and ODDITY Studio– It’s a completely different style of communication. It was impressive and inspiring. Good design lives everywhere!
Marcin: A few years back something more characteristic to a specific tone of Polish advertising could be seen. It is hard to say whether this "uniqueness" came from a specific assumption, or rather experimentation due to the fact that our Polish advertising market was in its development stage. Currently we are producing ads in similar trends as the rest of the western world. I consider this an advantage rather than a disadvantage. What can be characteristic of our market is frequent examples of playing with words. I call it "word games." An attempt to play with the Polish language in such a way that something from the advertisement would enter the colloquial language and mass culture.
Tytus: It is said that advertising is dramatization, and I believe this to be true. At last, the Polish advertising school managed to show our local problems through the lens of Poles and through the lens of our identity and culture. This makes these ideas unique. It's a bit like a matter of human trafficking– the problem exists in every country in the world, but in each one it looks a little different; each country requires different solutions, and that's why advertising becomes unique and one of a kind. One topic creates so many different stories from different lenses.What I miss in Polish advertising is a sense of humor, lightness, and a pinch of stupidity. We have already learned to do big campaigns on important matters and the time has come for silly and charming sausage commercials.
"It's a bit like a matter of human trafficking– the problem exists in every country in the world, but in each one it looks a little different; each country requires different solutions, and that's why advertising becomes unique and one of a kind."
What is your most recent project that you are the most proud of in the ad and design field?
Dawid: The strongest piece of 2019 at VMYL&R was definitely “The Last Ever Issue” for Gazeta.pl, BNP Paribas, and Mastercard. We encouraged this unusual coalition of brands to buy the longest running Polish porn magazine– we released its last issue ever that was all about gender equality, all about female empowerment, and all against sexism. The project won the first Cannes Lions Grand Prix ever given to Poland, as well as the first Polish Titanium Lion.
Daniel: It’s difficult for me to speak about our work at TOFU Studio because I’m biased, but we are definitely proud of the whole communication prepared for old XIV triptych “The Last Judgement” painted by Hans Memling in 1473 for the National Museum in Gdansk. We have prepared branding, advertising, and commercials for one of the 100 best known paintings in the history of art. For example, we produced a 700 kg x 2.5 m model of the golden sphere which was placed in the Centre of the City of Gdansk. The music for the commercial was recorded live in an old gothic church. This was not only a project, but also a kind of soulful adventure for the team at TOFU Studio.
We also believe in people and sharing goodness with each other. And for that reason, we prepare a themed non-profit calendar for a Polish foundation of our choice each year. We started with this charity project about six years ago. We have worked on ethno, dinosaurs, robots, aliens, and finally this year we have the pleasure to work with UNICEF Poland on an “African Fairytale” calendar. We are preparing this project right now and I have to tell you that we’ll definitely be proud of it. We put 100% of our hearts and beliefs in our work at TOFU. Good design can change the world and make it a better place.
"Good design can change the world and make it a better place."
Marcin: At McCann Worldgroup Poland we strive to create content that perfectly fits into the role of a brand but that is also socially useful. These kinds of ads can positively change something and give a lot of food for thought. The moment when a brand can truly add meaning to a just cause is the most rewarding for me.
"The moment when a brand can truly add meaning to a just cause is the most rewarding for me."
Tytus: I spent this year at J. Walter Thompson Dubai, but I'm coming back to my homeland soon– more challenges await. However, I am proud that I was able to transfer what Polish advertising taught me to the Middle East culture. You can see that vibe and thinking in the “Coca-Cola Offside” campaign, which I managed to prepare in Dubai. It was the Arab world’s first all-female football broadcast crew– local insight and simplicity.
Additional Noteworthy & Creative Projects by Noteworthy & Creative Polish Agencies
The Unbreakable Rainbow
180heartbeats + JUNG v MATT / Warsaw
Unilever - Ben&Jerry's
2019 Cultural Driver: Cultural Driver
To The Last Tree Standing
Ogilvy & Mather Polska / Warsaw
2018 Interactive: Gaming
"Martini Royale Casting"
If you think your country has what it takes to win an award at The One Show, please submit all creative work below!