If you've spent any time glumly staring at BBC World News – because, say, you're in a hotel room in rural Mongolia, all the bars are closed, and it's the only English language TV station you've got – then you might have noticed something weird about it. Unlike most BBC stations, it shows adverts. And unlike most other TV stations, many of those adverts aren’t for products. Some of them are for places.
More often than not, they're not places you've ever considered going to.
The logic behind this, one assumes, is that the sort of people likely to find themselves watching English language news stations for extended periods of time are disproportionately likely to be those who are travelling for work. Advertising on BBC World News, therefore, is a good way for a city to get its name in front of people who have NGOs/government agencies/investment funds of the sort that would come in pretty handy to an up-and-coming city.
But it does mean you get adverts like this one for Poland's third city Łódź – a city so lacking in international reputation that the primary purpose of the entire ad campaign is clearly to teach global business travellers how to pronounce its name. (Woodj, since you ask.)
Here’s the clip. It's only 40 seconds long – a series of shots of the town, narrated by an upbeat American actor – so I've transcribed it below, to enable my mockery.
Would you like to visit Poland’s – even Europe's – longest street of shops, restaurants and bars?
What I like about this claim is the slight uncertainty in the language. “We think it's the longest commercial thoroughfare in Europe.” “So say that.” “Well we want to, but we don't have the budget to check the entire continent.” “Don’t worry, Piotr, I’ve got an idea.”
On googling, though, Ulica Piotrkowska – the street in question – does turn out to be pretty darn long. It's 4.9km (3 miles) which is a lot longer than Oxford Street. Look:
And this in a city of just 740,000.
So, yes, good reason to visit Łódź.
With a modern shopping complex?
Funny the way this is a bit of an afterthought. I mean, I guess it’s to help them spread the clips out better, but it does just sound like they forgot.
Also, note the use of the word “modern”. Here it is:
Modern, see? None of your rubbish.
Would you like to see more festivals than Rio?
Googling the words “festivals Łódź” brings up links to the Łódź Design Festival, the Light Move Festival 2013, the International Festival of Comics and Games, Łódź Tango Salon Festival 2016.... which, to be fair, is a lot of festivals.
That said, Rio isn't famous so much for the quantity of its festivals as for their size: each year the carnival, the world’s largest, brings an estimated 2m people onto the city's streets. But International Festival of Comics and Games will no doubt be matching that figure any year now.
...relaxing gardens? A famous film school?
Not that famous, if we're honest. Also, I'm not sure “Roman Polanski started here” is quite the selling point it used to be.
...and entertainment all year round?
Would you be surprised how its spelt? You would!
Welcome to Łódź!
And that's when it becomes clear: as pretty as the cinematography is, the whole thing has been one long attempt to teach you how to pronounce the name Łódź. The campaign revels in the name of “Would you in Łódź?” which doesn't even make sense, but does at least work as a pun.
It's easy to mock all this (as you can tell, from the fact I just mocked all this). But on the other hand, it's probably eight years since I saw that ad in a hotel room – and I still remember it. Before watching it again today I would probably have struggled to tell you anything about the range of attractions available in Łódź – but I have never, ever forgotten how to say its name.
Would I, in Łódź? Oh yes. Oh yes I definitely Łód.
If you have seen a brilliant/terrible/brilliantly terrible promotional campaign for a city, please do get in touch. Fills the space, doesn’t it?
Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.