Nagoya in Japan recently hosted Polish Days alongside a volleyball match between the Wolfdogs Nagoya team and the Panasonic Panthers from Osaka. The event was part of a collaboration between the Polish Tourism Organisation, the Polish Embassy in Tokyo, the Polish Institute, and TG Sports – the owner of the Wolfdogs team.
The event was a great success and confirmed the effectiveness of promoting tourism at sporting events during the pandemic. At the same time, the substantial interest that the sports fans showed in the Polish information stand indicated a need for this kind of promotional synergy.
The extensive activities during the Polish Days focused on promoting Polish heritage, folk tradition, and conurbations, including the Tricity, Łódź, Kraków, Warsaw and Wrocław, and the palaces of the Opole region.
The choice of match was not random. Both the Japanese teams include Polish national team members: Bartosz Kurek is on the Wolfdogs Nagoya team, and Michał Kubiak plays for the Panasonic Panthers. As part of the project, the Wolfdogs team ran a campaign on social media underlining that the two players were from Poland, which was why Polish Days would be held during the sports event. In recorded interviews, Kurek and Kubiak recommended the places being promoted: the Tricity, Warsaw, Kraków and Wrocław. The videos were screened during the intervals between sets. The large screens also showed promotional videos produced by the POT and materials from the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Stalls with Polish products were set up in front of the entrance to the sports hall, and volleyball fans arriving to watch the game were welcomed by hostesses in Polish folk costumes. At the main entrance indoors, there was a Polish information stand fitted with the latest Me-fie device for taking selfies on a virtual trip around Poland. This form of virtual travel inspired fans to take over 100 pictures.
There was also plenty of external and clothes branding. Even the official Wolfdogs mascot sported a promotional placard and the inscription WITAMY – “welcome” in Polish – with a Japanese translation.
Before the match, the first of the Polish Days was opened by the Polish Ambassador to Poland, who also drew the five main prizes for the guests gathered at the venue. On the second day the winners were chosen in the same way by the director of the POT International Office in Tokyo. On the day of the match, the venue reported 1,550 visitors, followed by 1,500 the next day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a maximum of 1,550 people were allowed inside, i.e. half the venue’s total capacity.