Warsaw: a city that disppeared

21 06 2008

[source: Gazeta Wyborcza daily 20. June 2008; author: Dariusz Bartoszewicz. photographer: Aleksander Prugar]

Don’t come to Warsaw! Poland’s capital doesn’t exist any more. Someone has hidden it from us – for good. Here is a unique look at a city covered with a curtain of advertisements.

Ściana Wschodnia

There was no war, that the world forgot to notice, but Warsaw is gone. Adverts ate it. While city council and residents have given up.

There is a battle in Warsaw again: for every house, for every block, for every street corner, for every look. Those attacking and fighting one another are media houses, advertisement agencies and global brands. See, buy, taste – you’ll be happy.

Should the city be reduced to an advertising pillar – and its inhabitants to consumers?

‘They are like cockroaches – you spray them, spray, and they get immune’ – that’s how David Lubars from Omnicom Group talked about consumers and advert.

That’s why it isn’t enough to put adverts to newspapers, on posters, billboards. That’s too little. Too soft. The message needs to be stronger… and best when ad moves through the streets.

That’s why we there are huge tubes of toothpaste, chocolate bars and washing powders driving around the city. Previously these were busses and trams. And you could even see the world through their windows. Now all you can see – more adverts.

Residents are having their windows covered with them. Why would you look out of the window? What could be better to look at then a mega-billboard outside your window in the morning?

There are those who try to protest… They complain they don’t get enough sunlight. The most desperate among them cut holes in huge adverts covering their windows – so that they are able to open windows and let some air in.

But what can an ordinary citizen do confronted with the ultimate argument that “adverts on our building will pay for renovation”…

Warsaw is gone. Instead of coming to Warsaw, you better dig old postcards and photo albums from your closets. Or visit Paris, Berlin. Maybe you can still see something there.


Rondo De Gaulle\'a






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18 responses

21 06 2008

For the ones how can read a bit of Polish – .

21 06 2008

Uups, wrong formating. Here it comes again: http://www.miastomojeawnim.pl/blog/

21 06 2008

Thanks Martin, I knew this association before, I actually wanted to add a link here, but I lost their address

22 06 2008

Bloody hell! I remember it used to be pretty bad a few years back, now it’s gone completely insane!

Totally surreal, it’s like walking around in a giant TV commercial.

23 06 2008

Last time I was in Warsaw there were no adverts at all 😀

PS Here, a vision I once found for 20 East.

4 07 2008

It’s unbelievable. When they are going to make a huge advertisment in the whole sky? When they are going to stop?

5 08 2008

it is a form of corporate graffiti…it can be read as a visual commentary for Poland’s desire to be modern…on the outside we see the new but scratch the surface and undernearth it is a different story…

29 07 2011

so true! Love it “Corporate Graffiti.” Great!

25 08 2008

yeah, it looks really bad, but there is a good side to it. some of those buildings are in a pretty bad shape, and while not all of their owners can reach for government benefits regarding renovation, at least a part (a small percentage i guess but anyways) will be renovated from the money made on the ads.

16 10 2008
Raf Uzar

It’s a complete bloody nightmare. I think one of the worst things Poland did was to give free rein to all the advertising companies. I hope for the day when a law will come into effect banning the use of small, crappy roadside adverts which, quite frankly, are an eye-sore. Bring back nature! 😉


19 11 2008
More of those adverts « Perogies and puzzled looks

[…] November 19, 2008 · No Comments Warsaw, like I’ve previously documented in Prague and Zagreb, is flush with ads. Wherever you look billboards are shilling bras, movies, soaps, you name it. It seems I’m not the only one to notice the predilection to advertising. This is a translated article from a Warsaw newspaper, plus photos. […]

22 11 2008
Henryk in Sydney

I guess that you guys are in need of town planners and regulations to control this overuse of free space.

12 04 2009
Polandian on Sunday #3

[…] New regulations in outdoor advertising – Advertising got out of control in many Polish cities in recent years. Huge ads cover many buildings in city centres. Billboards […]

24 09 2009
Irish in Poland

I feel like I’m in a corporation’s advertising department toilet bowl when I walk around he city nowadays. The visual pollution stinks, bigtime. Thankfully, I read the other day that they are finally going to do something about limiting the size of the adverts. People in opposite buildings to the gi-normous eyesores are complaining of the lights being on all night, etc. I doubt the limits will be too severe though. Fuck, I’d love to douse them in parafin and flick a match. But I guess that would be too dangerous for the residents imprisoned behind them.

29 07 2011

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I live, we have limited the advertising impact and our downtown has almost no large advertising signs. But it is a constant struggle in the USA due to the 1st Amendment titled “Free Speech.” It says Congress shall make no law limiting free speech and advertisers say it is their right to advertise so it is heavy regulated. PS. the title of this should be corrected to “disappeared.”

8 12 2012
Kevin Stracuzzi

Wow it has really gone downhill. I hope they figure it out. We are all not doing good in this coming global depression.

4 12 2014

This is crazy. At some point, you don’t know where the limit is. As I come from Barcelona, for me the limit was this: http://www.lavanguardia.com/local/barcelona/20140131/54400675320/nissan-fachada-pedrera.html. A firm taking advantage of La Pedrera (UNESCO World Heritage) renovations.

Citizens should say out loud which is the city the want to live in! In Barcelona, real state companies were literally buying the city by pieces. This is a video about a group of architects and their point of view about housing and city transformation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT1W2oHvSl0

17 03 2021
půjčka online ihned

I do enjoy the manner in which you have presented this specific situation and it really does offer us a lot of fodder for thought. Nevertheless, from everything that I have personally seen, I basically wish as the remarks pile on that folks continue to be on point and don’t get started on a soap box associated with the news du jour. Still, thank you for this excellent point and although I do not necessarily concur with this in totality, I respect the point of view.

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