Thursday, 22 May 2014

Poland, advertising and ambiguous slogans.

Poland is advertising... itself! Over 150 posters of happy Polish people were put up two days ago in London as part of the marketing campaign promoting Poland. The campaign has been specifically organised for the 25th anniversary of the Iron Curtain's fall and its aim is to remind the world that it is in Poland where the process started. A video supporting the campaign will be launched in June. Yet it is the slogan - "Polska. Spring into." that causes confusion among English speakers; some even claim that it does not really mean anything. In fact, it has several meanings, and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that coordinates the campaign says that this was the plan.

True meaning

Polish media has strongly criticised the campaign organisers for the ambiguous slogan. One of the Polish news websites is citing dr Benjamin Stanley from Sussex University who claims that the slogan "has no sense", because "spring into" that translates into "wskocz/wpadnij" (jump into/pop in) should be followed by something - a place where you can actually spring into, i.e. Poland. Therefore, the slogan should read "Spring into Poland". The Polish edition of "Newsweek" quoted an anonymous Londoner who also said that the slogan is "grammatically incorrect".

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The slogan has many meanings that will be revealed.

What is confusing is the very word "spring" that can denote "a season", "a leap" or "water source". Combined with “into", it forms a phrase meaning "to jump into/ pop in", yet it needs to be followed by a place to pop into or an action to start. Arguably, we cannot really speak here about a mistranslation or an error - advertising slogans very often tend to disobey grammar and spelling rules simply to surprise and attract attention, yet we are not exactly sure what the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs had in mind when creating the slogan.

Michał Marcinkiewicz - Head of the Minister Sikorski's cabinet explains that the "slogan has been created as ambiguous on purpose, so that everyone can interpret it as they wish. It is supposed to indicate that the Poles are energetic and dynamic - he adds.

Wide-spread reach

The aim of the new campaign is to show that Poland - a country full of positive energy - has achieved a lot and it can give to Europe even more. Those achievements have been accomplished in the light of three significant changes that have taken place in the last 25 years in Poland and this year we are celebrating their anniversaries. They are: 25th anniversary of gaining freedom from communism and Soviet influence, 15th anniversary of joining NATO and 10th anniversary of entering the European Union. The campaign will continue till November 2014
and will have a wide-spread reach. The posters have already appeared in many central places in London - Heathrow Airport, Oxford Circus, Victoria and Leicester Square underground stations and on phone booths in the streets.

Moreover, a video that will be launched in June will be broadcast by top tv channels including BBC, CNN, Eurosport and Sky News to name but a few.


The debate on the grammatical correctness and actual meaning of the slogan continues. It resembles the one that we observed two years ago over the “Feel like at home” slogan promoting 2012 UEFA European Championship held in Poland and Ukraine. It was considered an incorrect literal translation of a Polish phrase “Czuj się jak u siebie w domu” which should translate into “Feel at home”.
Similarly, the “Polska. Spring into.” is thought to be wrong or even meaningless and should perhaps be amended into “Spring into Poland”.

Over to you now: do you think the slogan is incorrect? Does it mean anything to you? Share your views and drop a comment in the box below.


  1. To be honest, as a native speaker of English, it does seem incorrect, even after your explanations. It looks like someone took Poland and the full stop from “Spring into Poland.” and shuffled them to the beginning.

    But if the intention was to get people talking I'm sure they've succeeded!

  2. Thank you for your comment. Many people, especially native speakers consider the slogan incorrect. If I saw one of the posters in the street, I would feel very tempted to take some paint and just correct it.

    You are right, because the slogan is controversial, people keep talking about it and pay more attention to the campaign itself!