Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eastward Inwestments

One of my most dedicated and attuned readers has brought to my attention the Development of Eastern Poland initiative, and its cheeky ad campaign that seems to be going very sluggishly viral:

 The disappointed therapist, the largest and most brilliant jewel in this crown of suave insinuation and guilt.

The angry Polish father-in-law who wonders why you didn't invest in Eastern Poland.

I think I've reached as far as I can into this meme, but you can see a lot more here, and download the original ad materials here.
Basically, there's a program (in Polish, English) to increase investment in eastern Poland.  Poland received funding from the European Regional Development Fund to spruce up five of its easternmost voivodeships.  (Or voi(e)vod(e)ship, according to Wikipedia.  There are sixteen Polish voivodeships.  I had to memorize them when I was learning Polish, because there are a certain number of facts you have to learn about Poland in order to justify your having attempted to learn the language.  I was initially planning on doing a post explaining exactly what a voivodeship is, because I believed that since voivode originally referred to a warlord, and since Bram Stoker's Dracula identifies himself as being descended from one, there could be an interesting story there.  I'm still looking.)  What this means, among other things, is more funding for universities, increasing Internet access, improvements to roads and the creation of bicycle routes, and this glossy advertising campaign to attract investors and tourists.  Several previous campaigns that have brought attention to the region have gone unappreciated, if not underreported, but this one seems to have caught on.

What's interesting to me is that the organizers of the initiative and people responding to it seem to be absolutely in agreement that eastern Poland today is pretty much without attributes, with a minor difference in perspective; the first insists that this makes it ideal for development from without while the second wonders, who thinks about eastern Poland?  Where is it?  Is it different from the rest of Poland?  Meanwhile, your therapist, your father-in-law, your son, your Polish Tupac roll their eyes as their exasperation becomes unbearable.  This is not true, of course, even beyond any discussion of murderous histories, national confusion, glumness and mushrooms that may or may not be on the tip of my tongue.  But it is an easier way to make a 30-second commercial.  It seems like a commonplace of coverage of the campaign that the average investor would need to do some moral reckoning to come to terms with becoming financially involved in the region--that by becoming involved in it today they would be accepting the aspects of its history that remain unacceptable.  As much as I do favor reasoning based on consuming guilt regarding situations that may or may not ever actually come to be, I would like even more to see a campaign that addressed this reticence in an intelligent and open way.



Jane said...

This makes me wish I spoke Polish. Or that I could write my dissertation on investment campaigns.

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