Advertising

07-11-2001

Before 1989, the communist countries of Central Europe claimed to reject the values of consumerism, but that doesn't mean that Czechoslovak television was devoid of advertising, as Katerina McCreary from the Czech commercial station TV Nova remembers.

And these companies brought western-style advertising to Hungary's state-controlled television network several years before the Berlin Wall fell. In Czechoslovakia the transition was more dramatic. Bronislav Kvasnicka is a Czech advertising executive and has been working in the field for much of the period since 1989.
Today those pioneering days seem like worlds away - and all the countries of the region have seen huge changes. Poland is the largest Central European market and the general public have rapidly become used to modern advertising, according to Rupert Slade, a British advertising executive based in Warsaw.
In the Czech Republic most of the more popular ads today are produced domestically, such as the recent plethora of commercials for mobile phones and all kinds of new banking services. While in Poland, top film directors tend to be hesitant about making ads, a number of well-known young Czech directors, including the Oscar-winning Jan Sverak, have been less purist about their artistic principles. One of the most popular ads at the moment is directed by Filip Renc, famous for his recent movie "Rebelove".
This was recently put to the test by an ad for the chocolate bar Fidorka. The ad shows a little girl who throws her doll violently onto an open-topped car waiting at the traffic lights. The airbags inflate, trapping the woman who's driving in her seat. The little girl grabs a Fidorka bar from the woman's hand and runs off. Katerina McCreary again.
While in the Czech Republic it's been chocolate that has caused the biggest problems, Sandor Lazcko says that in Hungary the problem has been with sanitary products putting people off their food.
All the countries of Central Europe have similar regulatory bodies, although the regulations themselves differ. For example, in the Czech Republic the only major restriction on alcohol advertising is that it mustn't show excess or teenage drinking. Things are very different in Poland, but that doesn't necessarily stop the advertisers.
The advertisers we spoke with agreed that in all the countries of Central Europe, the public these days would much prefer to have no ads on their TV screens at all, a dramatic contrast with the euphoric days after the fall of communism, when people still believed in a new blue whiteness. Advertisers have to work harder these days as the public becomes more resistant.

07-11-2001