Exchange an Internet Ad for a Signboard

“We invite you to take part in a new campaign called ‘An Ad for an Ad.’ Each entrepreneur who decides to adapt an existing or planned signboard put on a historic building to the aesthetics of Krakow’s historic city center will receive a free Internet advertisement on, web site visited by 800 thousand Internet users monthly.”

The above notice, which was recently placed on Krakow’s official web site, is another attempt at beautifying the city center. Signboards on the facades of the old historic buildings have marred the center for many years. The problem is that obtaining a permit for a billboard can take months, as it requires the approval of the chief graphic designer of the city, the municipal department of architecture and the main architect of the city. As a result, the majority of signs in the city centre hang there illegally. Paradoxically, the law forbids removing existing signboards. If authorities remove a sign, they could be accused of damaging personal property.

The deadlock has continued for years, and the Internet appeal is the latest attempt to improve the situation. The idea consists of rewarding entrepreneurs who improve the appearance of their signboards. Those who succeed will get the opportunity to advertise for free on the web site.

The daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza quotes Filip Szatniak, the City of Krakow’s press office manager: “Krakow’s major problems are the horrid advertising banners placed on the facades of the buildings by the owners of the travel and real estate agencies. In my opinion these companies will be especially interested in promoting themselves on the city’s official web site, which is visited by a great number of not only tourists but also Krakow’s residents.”

Some entrepreneurs and business owners have misgivings about the campaign, however. They say the proposal is unclear as to how the city will promote certain companies. Who is to decide which signboard is prettier than the others? The policy is more clear with the Internet web site. All of the advertisements placed there will be designed according to the instructions of the portal administrators.

Considering the great number of Internet users visiting Krakow’s official web site, this may be an attractive offer. Making all the web advertisements look alike, however, certainly will not make them more effective.

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