Madonna in Pole position

Material girl materializes in ad spots

When 38 million Poles switch on their televisions today, their eyes are bound to pop as they take in the Queen of Pop, Madonna herself, promoting local broadcaster Radio Zet.

The humorous ad, touted as the biggest-ever international star campaign for a Central European product, features Madonna tapping on the window of a limo driven by Zbigniew Zamachowski. The locally beloved Polish character actor, who starred in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors/White,” seems to have trouble believing his own eyes as Madonna purrs, “Are you my driver?”

The closest thing he can manage in reply, before taking her for a music video-style spin around Warsaw, is a heavily accented “Ma-done-nah?”

France’s Lagardere Group, which owns the consortium behind Radio Zet with Advent International and Polish shareholders, would not disclose what the campaign cost or the deal cincher, but Lagardere president and CEO Jean-Christophe Lestra told Daily Variety that it constituted a regional first in terms of star draw.

The campaign was financed and originated by Radio Zet, said Lestra, who admitted some shock when the station’s program director, Robert Kozyra, informed him of the campaign. “I was even myself very surprised,” he said. “It’s a great combination — in Poland (Radio Zet) is a huge brand.”

The No. 2 Polish commercial station, with 8 million listeners, launches the Madonna and Zamachowski ads today on all national television stations, in 22 glossy magazines and on Radio Zet itself, to run for at least six months, with expected penetration reaching 50 views for every Pole aged 15-49, Kozyra said.

The ad, crafted by the Bum agency of Warsaw, was produced by OTO Studio (Poland) and directed by Tomas Konecki. The campaign, involving more than 100 people in the U.S. and Europe, applies advanced CGI processing to superimpose Madonna on the streets of Warsaw, using footage from her videos including “Vogue,” “Material Girl,” “Frozen” and “Hollywood.”

As for whether Madonna herself spent time on location in Warsaw, publicist Cesco van Gool of the Polish-Dutch Dragan Produkties said, “That’s not the point.”

Indeed, to Polish audiences familiar with Radio Zet’s slogan “Only the Big Hits,” the next six months may look like delivery time on the goods.

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