Sorry CNN, Krakow’s Broke

The city’s miserly promotional budget for this year, coupled with reckless spending, have left Krakow broke. Krakow is the only large Polish city that will not be advertising itself on CNN International to 140 million viewers.

In an article in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, it has been revealed that Krakow’s authorities resigned from a gigantic advertising campaign for a bargain price on CNN International. Krakow was to show itself in several hundred advertising spots on the international news channel for 900 thousand zlotys. According to CNN employees an identical campaign on a TV station with fewer viewers would normally cost more.

The weak dollar and the positive approach of CNN bosses to Poland led to budget prices being offered for the campaign, which has the potential of reaching 140 million viewers worldwide. CNN offered several hundred prime-time ad slots to the authorities of Krakow, Lodz, Gdansk and Warsaw – only Krakow declined.

What’s the reason behind the sudden offer to Polish cities? The commercials are to form a background to a week-long series of CNN International programmes focusing on Poland under the banner “Eye on Poland: Country at the Crossroads.” The coverage starts on October 6th and runs through to October 12th. The station says it wants to focus on the colour and contrast of one of Europe’s fastest developing nations – from business and politics to pop culture. There will be numerous live broadcasts, and programmes will run daily, with each one devoted to a different sphere of life: business, the Euro 2012 championships, as well as relations with Russia and the USA.

Many interviews are also promised with, amongst others, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President Lech Walesa and current President Lech Kaczynski. Talks with prominent politicians, political analysts and Central European commentators are also on the schedule. Short clips showcasing Polish cities will also be broadcast. Krakow, at least, will be amongst these. A CNN International film crew spent several days here in August, though unfortunately it was raining heavily at the time. “We don’t know how we’ll come out on the screen,” Krakow officials have said.

The situation should be cause for concern for Krakow’s authorities; this coverage should be backed up by a mass advertising campaign, but for this, Krakow has run out of money. Officials from the City Promotion and Marketing Bureau can only despair, as their budget this year was only four million zloty, compared to 17 million allocated by Lodz and nine million by Szczecin (which is half the size of Krakow).

The director of the bureau said: “This expenditure was not foreseen in this year’s budget, and any money we had left went to finance the ‘rescue’ advertising campaign on the National Geographic and BBC channels earlier this year, after figures showed a 20 percent drop in visitors to Krakow.” All this is after city councillors spent three million zloty on a mock battle and a series of other events to commemorate the victory of the army of Polish King Jan III Sobieski in the Battle of Vienna in 1683.

“For that amount of money we could have had three advertising campaigns. This kind of opportunity is unlikely to present itself again, [and] it’s difficult to expect the TV station will want to feature Poland again in the next few years,” says the owner of a tourist guide for the city.

Gazeta Wyborcza also brings to light the fact that the decision against the campaign was influenced by the Epoka advertising agency, which would have produced the Krakow commercial. Their representatives persuaded City officials not to promote Krakow on CNN International in October because viewers at that time will only be interested in coverage of the US presidential elections.

“It’s crazy to miss out on such an opportunity because of the presidential elections. The increased viewing of television news is fantastic for the three Polish towns that are advertising themselves. It’s a shame because it’s too late for Krakow now. Besides, I have the impression that those who are worried about Krakow’s campaign being crushed by the presidential elections are not differentiating one simple thing. CNN International has news from the USA, [but] it doesn’t dominate, unlike American CNN where it is the main feature,” said former Polish TV U.S. correspondent Katarzyna Slawinska.

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