Street posters near City Hall Park, New York 1866.


"Propaganda" comes from the Latin for "things that are disseminated". Until the industrial revolution, the term was used for advertising in general. Propaganda was used later for the systematic dissemination of political, ideological or other information. Here on the origin and scientific definition of the word "propaganda". Download PDF

In ancient times, advertising has been individually painted on the wall or laboriously hand-carved in stone and marble. Egyptians and Romans were particularly nimble-fingered in this technique.
The birth of the poster is legendary. The bases for paper production came from ancient China. In the year 105 the technique was developed by the inventor Ts'ai Lun. This first paper was made from a mix of special tree bark, hemp and rags, a composition, which for centuries has been long maintained. Marco Polo brought paper in 1292 for the first time to Europe.

Posters conquer Europe

The reproduction of printed paper was made possible only in 1440 with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. It was only later that posters began to boom, mostly only with text, which focused on official statements and political slogans (eg "down with the king") and later also announcements of organizers from the entertainment area.
The so-called "flyposting" also known as "wild posting", had led in France in 1539 to official laws for poster advertising, which led to an outright repression in 1653. In 1772 the bill-poster companies of Paris joined together in an association. In Switzerland, this was done at the suggestion of PROPAGANDA Ltd. only in the year 2001, with the Swiss Confederation of Culture Advertisers.

1798 Alois Senefelder invented lithography, the technique had been developed in the 19th Century. The artistic possibilities and its visual impact inspired artists throughout Europe. Important for the poster, which boomed mainly with political content during the French Revolution and the unrest that followed, and later during the industrialization.
The second half of the 19th Century accelerated the development in an unexpected momentum, thereby creating favorable conditions for the further development of the poster: more and more products would be sold, the poor classes needed a variety of range of things, that needed to be advertised. The founding of the first company for public postering took place in London in 1839, and in Geneva in 1900, the founding of the Societé General Affichage SGA.

Flyposting is an expression of urban culture

Around 1880 also in the cities of Switzerland mainly posters with political content were placed. As the rival political parties pasted posters over each other, the authorities enacted laws on poster advertising.

When the trained bookseller, printer of flyers and newspapers Ernst Litfass, in 1855 asked the police chief of Berlin a permission to establish public advertising pillars, he promised to curb the wild flood of posters on the trees. It was the birth of the still widespread advertising pillar. The artful poster hanging had his golden age in Switzerland at the time of Dadaism in 1917, especially in the stronghold of Dada Zurich.

In Switzerland

About 50 years later with the advent of photocopiers, the small poster was realisable for everyone. Fast and cheap communications, advertising messages could be political, commercial or reproduced invitations to cultural events. Like that DIN A3 was widespread as a small poster format. Later on offset printing was getting cheaper because of falling paper prices and the rising demand for printed matter. Now everybody could print with small budgets and even larger formats.

While in most neighboring countries permeated the A1 format, In Switzerland it was A2 (approximately 42 x 59 cm) as standard of flyposting: large enough to be well perceived - small enough to fit almost anywhere.

In Switzerland there is against every free market principle, a quasi-monopoly on poster sites in towns. A single billboard company dominates the big poster landscape. Contracts which have been partially closed almost 100 years ago with various municipalities, secured a large company posting privileges on public ground. Through solid relationships of the poster company with the political elite, these contracts could be renewed regularly. Today they still provide a massive competitive advantage over other billboard companies, who are limited to billboard on private ground only.

Through the quasi-monopoly situation the billboard company in Switzerland, largely dictates the prices. Large posters costs five to twenty times the price of neighboring countries. Only high-income commercial companies can afford several hundred or thousand francs per poster per week, small companies or cultural organisers can not afford this.

That's why the low budget flyposting wins. Because independent billposters are usually not placed on rented sites, but on free sites, and because of the mechanisms that play between the billboard companies, and so does the free market puts pressure on prices. This is one reason why this advertising medium is affordable.

For many cultural organisers, clubs, concert venues, festivals and theaters flyposters are the only financially viable way to draw attention to their events. Even well-established cultural institutions use this advertising medium regularly to fill their halls.

The company PROPAGANDA Zurich Ltd

Since 1977 the company PROPAGANDA placed posters in the city of Zurich. The founder Sandro Galli personally placarded as a cultural manager over 22 years and distributed flyers. Impressed by the high street presence of his posters soon other cultural institutions became aware of his advertising media. What had begun as a one-man operation at that time, was later to become a success story. From 1980 onwards, in addition to the regular posters we distributed more and more flyers. From 1986, the distributions were extended to all towns of Switzerland. 1994 was the real boom year for the company, which now served well-known cultural events and venues such as the Kaufleuten Club, Rote Fabrik, and theaters as regular customers. 1995 followed the key players in the music industry, international labels, and by 1997 all major film distributors. This cemented the breakthrough of PROPAGANDA, which, meanwhile, also made himself a name with promotions and other forms of special advertising.

The company PROPAGANDA Zurich Ltd had grown enormously, not only, but was able to enlarge his region also beyond the borders. In 2002 followed international BTL mandates which have been implemented all across Europe. Thanks to high quality standards and the best motivation of its staff it became in 2001 the largest ambient advertising agency of Switzerland. Since 2006, the CEO Sandro Galli is a guest lecturer of marketing at several schools: Swiss Marketing Academy, at SAWI and at KV Zurich.



In front of Olympic Theatre, New York 1875.