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How the Polish Ad Industry Rallied around Ukraine
London, UK
Polish agencies share the SAR Association of Advertising Agencies job board which supports Ukrainians and other tangible ways to help

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to force Ukrainians to flee their country, many have sought refuge in Poland, which has welcomed them with open arms. Support has flooded in across various industries and companies, including the Polish advertising agency association, SAR, which has created, a job board for Ukrainian creatives. The platform is accessible in Ukrainian, Polish and English, and supports Ukrainians in finding work within the Polish creative industry.

While many have been vocal about supporting Ukraine, Michal Rutkowski, managing director at K2 Create, reshared a post on LinkedIn about his industry friends in Ukraine and the ways in which the advertising industry can support them. Part of his sentiment included stopping campaigns in Russia, not hiring Russian production companies and halting their invitations to pitch. 

Michal shared his motivation for the post: “Simple need of the heart. Just after the invasion, I messaged Vitalii [Kapustian] and Illya [Yankovsky] and other people from Ukraine I met in the past, to check if they are OK and safe or if they needed anything. Vitalii forwarded me his LinkedIn post – the appeal aimed at boycotting Russia within our industry. It was obvious for me that I should repost it with my point of view.” 

Alongside the job board platform, production service company Radioaktivefilm has been clear in its support for Ukraine and is encouraging the ad industry to help in a number of ways, which can be found here

LBB’s Nisna Mahtani also asked 180heartbeats+JUNG v MATT, Tango Production, and DDB Worldwide about how the Polish ad industry is coming together to support Ukraine, and what their agencies specifically are doing to support the cause. 

Michal Rutkowski, managing director, K2 Create

I am proud of the whole Polish society, which is reacting great – we are united in solidarity and support for Ukraine. In the first 10 days, almost one million Ukrainians crossed Polish borders. Mostly women and children. All Poles are Ukrainians right now, helping the refugees with transportation, accommodation, food and cosmetics supply, finding work, finding schools for kids and the beginning of the assimilation process. We do understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint, the war will not stop tomorrow, unfortunately.
The advertising industry is responding great as well. The Polish advertising agencies association SAR is launching an AdAid website, an industry marketplace matching agencies job offers with Ukrainian people with agencies job needs. I am sure that all Ukrainian graphic designers, motion designers and web developers could find work in Poland.
Agencies that are working daily with NGOs operating on the Ukrainian border launched fundraisers. Many agencies are helping to collect clothes, food, hygienics, etc. My agency, K2 Create, has a special task force, which collects ideas from all the employees and helps in their implementation. We are also financing psychological help – both for our Ukrainian employees and for Polish ones, who also might be in a state of shock. And Magda Banasik, our head of creatives, who studied the Polish language, proposed to offer free Polish lessons for the Ukrainian refugees. We do solidarise with Ukraine, as we were in a similar situation in 1939 when World War II started. We do understand what they are going through. We are and always will be willing to help.
And I am sure that this is only the beginning.
Generally, I would like the international marketing and advertising community to react the way we are reacting. Maybe a little faster, but on the other hand – I understand, that these are not decisions to be taken spontaneously in one day. Many marketers and brands have already decided to leave Russia and every day, we read about more brands from different categories supporting Ukraine: e.g. Visa, Mastercard and American Express, PWC and KPMG, GM, Ford, Volkswagen and Volvo, H&M, Reserved and Zalando, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify.
The supermarkets are also withdrawing Russian products from their stock. The exodus from Russia will go on – WPP has just cancelled its operations in Russia. Cannes Lions banned award entries and delegations from Russia and I am sure, that the others will follow. On the other hand – Ukrainian creatives would have the possibility to participate for free, which is also a good sign. I do believe, that Cannes Lions should honour its Ukrainian winners from the past, giving them the possibility to send their special message to the Cannes audience, especially now, when they are soldiers fighting for their freedom. 

Marcin Gaworski, chief executive officer & partner, 180heartbeats+JUNG v MATT 

As a 180 agency, we are organising help for Ukrainian people - food, clothes, medicine, etc. Last week we supported the Polish Red Cross, who are helping Ukrainian people one the war zone. Individuals from 180 drive privately to the Polish-Ukrainian border to transport refugees. I am hosting six in my home. All the time, day and night, people are sharing something. We created a special info line on mail inside the agency. Everyone who wants to do something good to help the Ukrainian people can act. 
This mail is for gathering true information on how we can help Ukrainian people. We will open job positions dedicated to Ukrainians to support people in their immigration which is going to be enormous. We support SAR's job portal. We joined the initiative which is ‘no’ (for  Russian entries in creative festivals Effie, Cannes, D&AD, etc.). Of course, it’s difficult but it is necessary.

Gosia Zatorska Trojanowska, CEO, Tango Production

There are many, many initiatives that have been instigated by the industry in Poland.
The help that’s being provided may not appear very organised as yet, but individuals and organisations are doing what they can with the tools they have. From offering private cars for transport, preparing and distributing sandwiches at the train stations, to buying the most important things for women with young children. Many people are also accommodating families in their own homes. 
Technical crews are providing their own equipment such as tents and generators, as well as providing the fuel for it. Individuals have also organised help on the Polish-Ukrainian border providing transport into nearby cities and beyond. There are hundreds of volunteers working in the night shelters, at the train stations and on the borders – with many local restaurants and catering companies supplying free food. 
All this is being done whilst continuing to work on client projects. We know how important it is for these refugees to feel safe and welcomed once they arrive on our soil.
At TANGO we have pledged to donate 30% of our profits to the refugees that have been displaced to Warsaw and other Polish cities. Via our social platforms we are inviting people from the Ukrainian film industry to get in touch – from directors and producers to assistants and runners - so we can find appropriate employment with us or with other companies that we know of.
The needs of refugees at this time are prolific and the fastest way that we can assist is by helping directly. This week we’re organising collections of short-supply items such as baby food, clothes and household appliances that will go directly to people in shelters or those being housed by Polish families.
We see first-hand what is needed and what needs to be done… Right now we are doing everything we can and are proud to play our part.  

DDB Worldwide

In times of disaster, we look to the strength of our DDB and OMC network partners to support our people and their families who may be at risk. We have been working all week from all parts of the world on humanitarian efforts that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of those impacted in Ukraine. Nearly every member of every bordering or nearby agency is providing humanitarian assistance, including transport, accommodation, translation services, and preparing supplies for people crossing borders. The first of four chartered trains from neighbouring countries took supplies into Ukraine and brought people out earlier this week. 

We are in constant contact with our Ukrainian-based agency leaders and Russian teams. We will continue to offer assistance during this crisis, with our number one priority during these difficult times being the safety and well-being of our people and their families.

Click to see DDBs statements from their Warsaw and Prague offices.

Photo from a demonstration in Łódź, Poland by Eugene Tkachenko on Unsplash

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