Photo: Heyah - Advertising material
The campaign, created for Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa's (PTC) Heyah prepaid brand, is being terminated just days after being launched for the New Year.
“In view of the unfavourable comments that have been expressed against the campaign, as well as the emergence of ideological threads in the discussion, we have decided to end it [the campaign],” Heyah confirmed in a statement on Monday evening.
“Our decision is dictated by our wish to show respect to the feelings of our customers, as well as to adhere to business ethics, a matter which is of paramount important to us.”
Banners and television adverts featured a puckish, cartoon caricature of Lenin who entreats viewers to sign up to be part of the mobile phone brand's new offer.
Among the most prominent voices to speak out against the campaign was Lukasz Kaminski, head of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a state-backed body that investigates crimes against Polish citizens.
“I was amazed and outraged by PTC S.A's use of Lenin in its marketing,” he wrote in an open letter to the operator.
“It is irresponsible and trivialises mass crimes and their victims,” he argued, adding that young people might make “positive associations” with Lenin because of the advert.
“Lenin was one of the greatest criminals in the 20th century and personally responsible for 2-3 million deaths during the civil war in Russia and revolution,” Lukasz Michalski told thenews.pl.
“So I think that any further explanation of why its simply ridiculous and inappropriate to use this kind of person as a marketing tool,” he said (hear audio for more).
IPN has investigated, and continues to investigate a wide range of crimes committed by Stalin's wartime regime against Poles, as well as crimes committed by the communist government installed in Poland after the war.
Meanwhile, the Twoja Spawa association (Your Affair), which championed the campaign against PTC, has offered to reimburse the PTC in part for losses relating to the termination of the campaign. (nh/pg)
audio by Veronika Joy