In times of social media, the role of news Web sites is continuously challenged. Not only is consumption declining, but so is attachment to a brand.

For more than 20 years Onet.pl, the largest news Web site in Poland, has been the go-to source for Poles during important events. Every month, it is visited by 60% of Polish Internet users.

The Meaningful Brands study by Havas Media shows that people would not care if 75% of brands disappeared. It is not enough anymore to build and promote a good product and differentiate it from the competition. To grow, one needs to make a brand meaningful by making a real difference in people’s lives.

Poles from different social groups sing the national anthem together for an Onet TV commercial.
Poles from different social groups sing the national anthem together for an Onet TV commercial.

We invited various experts, including Poland’s best sociologists, Onet journalists, our marketing team, public relations and social media experts, and an advertising agency, to gain valuable insight into the minds of millions of Poles. Nowadays in Poland, people with different political views do not want to shake hands anymore. Poland is strongly divided. A sense of community has disappeared. In the last few years, Poles have become less open and trustful. What is utterly disturbing, they consider themselves the most divided nation in the world.

In 2018, Poland celebrated the 100th anniversary of regaining independence. It posed a unique opportunity to remind Poles that more unites them than divides them.

As the largest portal, Onet.pl is a meeting place for people with different views and beliefs. Our intention was to show that no matter how different Poles are, they are still one nation. The goal of the campaign was to bring people together and help them celebrate as one country, despite the differences.

We combined journalism and advertising to create the #100latPolsko (Happy 100th Anniversary Poland!) platform. In the five months of the campaign, Onet published more than 300 articles and videos about highlights of the last century in Poland’s history. The editor-in-chief encouraged the audience to join the celebration and discuss it using the #100latPolsko hashtag. A dedicated Web site was created to feature articles, interviews, infographics, and quizzes.

We needed a strong symbol, something uniting us above all the differences. We concluded that the national anthem is one thing all Poles can relate to, so it became the main theme of an Onet commercial, filmed by top director Wojciech Smarzowski whose films comment on contemporary Poland. We showed a candid portrait of Poles divided by a definition of a “true Pole.” The commercial portrayed children, naturally devoid of prejudices, holding hands and singing together with a hopeful message for the future.

Encounters of Poles from various conflicted social groups were the key visual. We used a range of advertising outlets, mostly TV, cinema, out-of-home advertising, radio, and the Internet. We also created murals with the shaking hands motif in major cities. 

Onet also encouraged Poles to celebrate the anniversary together by offering free tickets to museums, and we released an album with the greatest Polish hits. We conducted an experiment in which we persuaded various groups of Poles to sew the Polish flag (red and white).

Murals like this one in Warsaw featuring one of the campaign’s key images were created in major cities to encourage Poles to unite and celebrate their shared history.
Murals like this one in Warsaw featuring one of the campaign’s key images were created in major cities to encourage Poles to unite and celebrate their shared history.

The campaign triggered emotions that Poles very much need in this time of divide: solidarity, a sense of community, and respect.

People who saw the campaign declared bigger openness to:

  • Different nationalities +5%.
  • Other religions +7%.
  • Different sexual orientations +13%.

Furthermore, we improved the Onet brand image and bonded with our audience, which resulted in 45% brand recommendation increase!

The #100latPolsko campaign proved that the impact is much stronger when journalism is combined with advertising. People in Poland became more open toward each other, and our mission of changing people’s lives for better continues.