Country Advertising Industries: Russia--Soviet Union

Figure 1.--This is a 1936 advertisement for the tooth powder 'Hygiene' (TEZhE). The text reads, 'Every schoolchild knows perfectly'. This seems to be a poster.

Tsarist Russia

We know very little about advertising in the Soviet Union. We suspect that it ws similar to trends in other European countries, especially Germany. Tsarist Russia of course was not nearly as industrialized as Germany. Large areas of rural Russia were virtually outside of the modern conied economy. Serfdom ws abolished (1861), but large numbers of Russians continued to live as minimally paid agricultural workers on large landed estates. The citie were different. Industrial development had begun and while still limited compared to Western Europe,its aggregate size was substantial and growing at a very rapid pace.

Soviet Advertising

Early Soviet period

The combination of World War I and Civil War had damaged the economy. The loss of territory also disrupted Tsrist commerialpatterns. The Bolshevik's pursued War Communism. This inckuded the mass confiscation of private property, arrests, flleing owners with business exoerience, and radical socialist policies was causung further economic problems. In the midst ofcall this there was little need for advertising, although political propaganda posters florished.

NEP period (1921)

To dave the flatering Soviet economy, Lennin instituted the New Economic Policy (NEP). Lenin replaced the severe food requisitioning policy with a tax (1921). This is often sited as the beginning of the NEP. The BEO of course wentbmuch further, signaling the inauguration of the New Economic Policy To revive the economy Lenin initiated the New Economic Policy which in effect restored an element of capitalism and personal rewards to the depressed economy. Esentially it was iimited use of capitalism to revive the economy which aws threateningvto bring down the Soviet experiment. One aspect of the NEP was a revivalof Russian advertising. There was thus a period from the mid-1920s to the early-30s in which Soviet commercials flourished. Even famous painters and poets participated. A good example Vladimir Mayakovsky. Mayakovsky created the most famous slogan of Mosselprom, the biggest Soviet trust producing and selling foods, tobacco and drinks - "Nowhere else, excet in Mosselprom". Sometimes. Soviet managers attempted to capitalize on the btand reconitiion of appropriated companies. For example the former "Einem" sweets factory became the "Red October" cookie factory after the Revolution. On some posters were written "CookiesRed October (former Einem)". Ak=lmost never were the firmer owners involved.

Stalinist Era

The tragedy of Soviet commercials occured in lthe mid-1930s when independent business was absolutely forbidden. In the absence of competition there were no demand for a good publicity and for that matter,high quality producrts. The quality of goods and services decreased rapidly. Another famous Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov later citated those slogan I wrote above with a sarcasm - "Nowhere else you can buy such a crap, except in Mosselprom". Another problem of Soviet commercials was total lack of goods - often it was very hard to buy the goods depicted in commercials. Soviet consumers were firtunate to find goods in general,let alone any particular brand.

Post-Stalinist era

Some goods, especially ones for army, were marked as 'Soap', 'Beef', and so on. Most of goods, and especially children ones used special brand names. The brands aftervthecStalinist era, however, did not have the same meaning as in the West. As a result, in Soviet-era advertising often was appreciated by people ironically. Slogans of state monopolies, like "Fly by Aeroflot planes" (there wasnt other air companies at all) or "Keep your money in Savings Bank" (just the same), were used to describe something absolutely nonsence, boring and known to everybody (like "Horses eat oats and hay"). Given the Soviet reward system for managers, commonly req=wardibg quantity and not quality, brand advertising had no real meaning.

Modern Post-Soviet Russia


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Created: 1:51 AM 6/12/2012
Last updated: 1:52 AM 6/12/2012