– All about PROPAGANDA Ltd –

Propaganda is advertising and PR

“Propaganda” comes from the Latin ‘propagare’ (to spread). Until the Industrial Revolution, the term was generally used for advertising. Propaganda was used later for the systematic dissemination of political, ideological or other information.

In ancient times, advertising messages were individually painted on the wall or laboriously carved by hand in stone and marble. The Egyptians and Romans were particularly dexterous in this technique.

The birth of the poster is surrounded by legends. The basics for paper production were developed in ancient China in 105 AD by the inventor Ts’ai Lun. This first paper was made from tree bark, hemp and old rags – a composition that was retained for centuries. Paper production only came to Europe via the Arab world in the 11th century.

Photo: Poster columns in front of the Olympic Theatre, New York 1875

Posters conquer Europe

The reproduction of printed paper became possible after 1440 with the invention of letterpress printing by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. It was only later that the boom of posters, mostly designed with text only, began. In addition to official announcements and political opinions, these posters focused on announcements from the entertainment sector.

The so-called “wild postering”, also known as flyposting, had already led to official instructions for billposting in France in 1539, which led to outright repression from 1653 onwards. In 1772, the billposters of Paris joined together to form a free association. In Switzerland, at the suggestion of PROPAGANDA AG, this only happened in 2001 with the organisation of “Dachverband Schweizer Kulturplakateure” the association of cultural billboarders.

In 1798 Alois Senefelder invented lithography, the technique of which was further developed in the course of the 19th century. The artistic expression and visual impact of this new technique inspired artists throughout Europe. Industrialisation was also decisive for the poster, which experienced a great deal of popularity during the French Revolution and the upheavals that followed, especially as billposting with political content.

In the second half of the 19th century, the development accelerated with undreamt-of momentum, creating favourable conditions for the further development of the poster: More and more products wanted to be sold, both poor and rich classes needed variety in the area of entertainment, and in view of the major political, economic, and cultural upheavals, the poster continued to serve as a vehicle for political propaganda. 1839 saw the founding of the first company for public billposting in London, followed in 1900 by the founding of the Allgemeine Plakatgesellschaft APG in Geneva.

Photo: Wild billposting near City Hall Park, New York. 1866

Flyposting are an expression of urban culture

Around 1880, posters with political content were also placed in the cities of Switzerland. As rival parties were trying to outdo each other with posters and to outdo each other with ever new ones, the authorities enacted laws on the billposting on public ground.

When Ernst Litfass, a trained bookseller and printer of flyers and revolutionary newspapers, asked the Berlin police chief for permission to put up public poster pillars in 1855, he promised to stem the flood of wild posters on the trees. It was the birth of the Litfass advertising pillar, which is still widely used today. The artful use of posters reached another heyday in Switzerland during the Dadaist era around 1917, especially in the Dada stronghold of Zurich.

Photo: Wild posters 2002 in Zurich

Small poster advertising in Switzerland

More than 50 years later, with the advent of photocopiers, the small poster became feasible for everyone. Communications, advertising messages, political content and invitations to cultural events could be reproduced quickly and cheaply. Thus DIN A3 became the widely used small poster format. Later on – due to falling paper prices and the increasing demand for printed matter – offset printing became increasingly cheaper. Now it was possible to produce higher print runs and print larger formats with even smaller budgets.

While larger formats such as DIN A1 prevailed in most of the neighbouring countries, DIN A2 (42 x 59.4 cm or 16,5 x 23,4 inch) became the standard for wildlife posters in this country: large enough to be easily noticed – small enough to be placed almost anywhere.

In Switzerland, against every free market principle, there is a quasi-monopoly for large poster sites on public grounds. Two poster companies dominate the large poster landscape. In contracts, some of which were concluded almost 100 years ago with various towns, they secured major privileges for billposting on public land. Thanks to firm relations with the political elite, these leases have been regularly renewed. Today, they still guarantee massive competitive advantages over other poster companies that have to limit their billposting activities to private property.

The position of power of the poster companies enabled them to largely dictate prices in Switzerland. Large poster panels in Switzerland, for example, cost five to twenty times more than in neighbouring countries. Large companies can afford several hundred to over a thousand francs per poster per week; small companies or cultural event organizers cannot afford such expenses.

This makes free bill posting all the more important for small budgets. Because independent billposters usually do not place the posters on rented spaces and because of the mechanisms that take place between the poster companies, the free market plays its part and thus puts pressure on prices. This is one of the reasons why this advertising medium is affordable.

For many cultural organizers, clubs, concert venues, festivals and theatres, small posters are the only financially viable way to draw attention to their events. Even established cultural institutions regularly use this advertising medium to fill their halls.


The company PROPAGANDA has been billposting in the city of Zurich since 1977. The founder Sandro Galli has been a cultural manager and DJ for 22 years and has personally placed hundred thousands of posters and distributed flyers. Impressed by the high street presence of his posters and the high advertising impact, several cultural institutes soon became aware of his advertising media and a long-standing collaboration began.

What had started as a one-man business at that time was later to become a success story. From 1980 onwards, flyers were regularly distributed alongside the posters. From 1986, the distribution was extended to more and more cities in Switzerland. 1994 was the real boom year for the company, which now served well-known event and cultural organisers such as Kaufleuten, Rote Fabrik and Schauspielhaus as regular customers.

In 1995, key players in the music industry, international labels and, from 1997, the film industry were won as clients. This cemented the breakthrough of PROPAGANDA, which in the meantime had also made a name for itself in the area of promotions and other special forms of advertising.

In 2000 Sandro Galli finally decided to convert the sole proprietorship into a public corporation. The growth of the company, which in the meantime had become PROPAGANDA Zürich AG, picked up speed.

Thanks to the strong interregional network, all areas of Switzerland could be covered with advertising. With the introduction of high quality standards and the best motivation of its employees, the company grew to become the largest cultural advertising and ambient media agency in Switzerland in 2001. It was able to expand its distribution area far beyond its borders. In 2002 and 2003, international BTL mandates followed, which were implemented throughout Europe, and the number of employees grew steadily.

In the following year, the company Swiss Distribution Service SDS was taken over, thereby massively expanding the magazine distribution sector. At the same time, the corresponding logistics department was expanded and further professionalised. Since 2005, CEO Sandro Galli has also been a guest lecturer at several marketing schools. These include the Swiss Marketing Academy, SAWI and the KV Zurich.

By taking over four more advertising companies between 2009 and 2015, the company continued on its successful expansion course. From 2012 onwards, the film promotion division was greatly expanded and in 2015 a corresponding website Filmpromotion.ch was launched. In 2016, the website Hochschulwerbung.ch was redesigned, followed one year later by the websites Ethnowerbung.ch and Gastrowerbung.ch.

After Sandro Galli built up PROPAGANDA, first as a sideline and later on a professional basis, he put the company on an impressive growth path. Contracts with public authorities, in particular with the city of Zurich, give the company exclusive access to first-class advertising space. The long-standing team of employees is well-rehearsed and has a unique know-how in the field of Out of Home advertising and ambient marketing.

Originally anchored in the cultural scene, PROPAGANDA is today very versatile and has a broadly diversified customer base across all industries. The company has an exceptionally high client focus and measures its own success by the results of its customers. This will remain the key to long-term and extremely valuable customer relationships in 2020.