In Russia, Advertising Watches You


If you enjoyed my lovable Russkies column, and even if you didn't, you might get a charge out of the great eighties fad for drab Soviet vistas in advertising.

Probably the best remembered is this Wendy's spot featuring a Moscow fashion show:

A less successful Wendy's commercial features a Soviet Olympic team, a KGB agent, and a fine Wendy's burger:

And my favorite of the bunch, a spot for RC Cola, which plays on the actual history of Coke and Pepsi exports to the USSR. As always where Royal Crown Cola is concerned, this commercial ends tragically:

I can't find the commercial where Saveli Kramarov wants to buy a big American car with tailfins, and in fact I can find so little evidence that it ever existed that I'm beginning to doubt my own memory. That's disturbing, but an appearance by Hey Giorgy is enough to turn any frown upside down:

NEXT: After the Fall

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  1. Look, the Soviet government provided its people with two cola choices. Two! Overwhelming the primitive minds of the people with a third choice is not only bourgeois foolishness, it is also unmutual.

    Incidentally, Coke > RC Cola > Pepsi.

  2. Dr. Pepper>Coke>RC Cola>Pepsi

    1. Yes, but Dr. Pepper isn’t a cola, i.e. is not based on extracts of the kola nut.

  3. I think that commercial ran around the time of the ‘New Coke’ era, so your maths may be off.

  4. As always where Royal Crown Cola is concerned, this commercial ends tragically:

    FWIW, they also still make both C&C and Double Cola–barely.

    1. My compliments. That line was probably my best laugh today.

  5. I can’t find the commercial where Saveli Kramarov wants to buy a big American car with tailfins, and in fact I can find so little evidence that it ever existed that I’m beginning to doubt my own memory.

    I remember it too. Does that count?

    1. ::picks up notepad, begins jotting

      These bizarre shared delusions are fascinating…

  6. RC Cola was Michael Stivic’s favorite, therefore Communist, therefor needed to die.

  7. Probably the best remembered is this Wendy’s spot featuring a Moscow fashion show

    Yep. That was actually the first thing to come to mind in the other post.

  8. In Russia (and most of the rest of the world), reform means getting the government off your back, in America reform means solidifying bureaucratic controls over you!


    We won and all the KGB had to do was change its name!


    Enjoy your freedoms, AmeriKans!

    Sorry, the last one wasn’t funny. Too soon. I went a little overboard.

    1. Great Prime Minister, how cold was it?

      1. Wait . . . give me a moment. There is a Comrade Pelosi joke in there somewhere.

        1. It was sooo cold, Comrade Pelosi’s lack of razor application to either leg or twat became fashionable again for all women!

        2. Take my Speaker of the House, please!

  9. With a wide assortment of vodkas, did the Soviets even have a market for one cola?

  10. “Is next… Dayvear!”
    “Is next… Eveningvear!”
    “Is next… Svimvear!”

    1. Outstanding – I can still hear that woman’s voice. And the outfits – classic. Ranks right up there with the disappeared tailfin commercial.

  11. Single Malt Scotch>Dr. Pepper>Coke>RC Cola>Pepsi

    1. You have carbonated single malt Scotch?

      It would make my work day a lot more tolerable.

      1. You can make your own easily enough in one of these.

      2. Why would you carbonate scotch? The point is the strong flavors. Carbonation is used to reduce the intense flavor by reducing the contact area of the liquid on the surface area of your tongue. Hence the reason flat carbonated beverages taste sweeter.

  12. Tim,

    For the rest of Soviet Nastalgia Friday are you going to cover the fashion stores in Manhattan that started carrying all sorts of Soviet military accessories for the ladies?

  13. What’s with all the Soviet stuff? Is it Halloween already, or are we just trying to cheer Krugman up?

  14. Remember Dannon detente-era pitch that celebrated yogurt-extended lifespans in “Soviet Georgia” that came out around the time USSR stopped publishing such stats? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6-50poqaIE

    1. I remember that. Old Georgian peasant dudes and yogurt.

      1. Bet that’s an unsubstantiated claim, these days.

  15. Ah, yes… it certainly explains why Russians don’t like you either.

  16. That RC Cola commercial is my favorite of all time. I’ve been looking for it for years.

    I read somewhere that the Wendy’s fashion commercial caused an international incident, as the Soviet Union filed an official complaint against it.

    I loved the part in the SC bit where John Candy paraphrases a Calvin Coolidge joke.

  17. Off topic even more than my usual rants and raves, but this seems to be the most light hearted trivia thread at the moment.

    Back in the late eighties, I had a conversation and a bit of a debate with a professor on the policy of allowing gays into the intelligence services. He was a former Reagan State Dept. official and was strongly against the policy which was being implemented at the CIA at the time.

    He argued that gays were highly succeptable to blackmail. I said for closeted homosexuals no more so than heterosexual adulterers and for openly gay people there should not be a problem with blackmail at all. I added that in practical terms, that there are cases, especially with Saudi royalty, where the natural allure of our honey pots do not work, gay agents would be necessary.

    He harrumphed back that I wasn’t being serious, and left it that. Well, I thought it was a salient point even if one not likely to be found in the sort of expensive reports politicians commission to avoid dealing with controversial subjects.

    Anywho, on a highly related note, ex CIA employee Anderson Cooper is enjoying a much needed vacation:

    From New York Post:

    (Cooper) was spotted Tuesday with his muscular friend, Benjamin Maisani, at the Rambagh Palace, named the best hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. Cooper’s $3,200-a-night room features a four-poster mahogany bed and views of the gardens of the former Maharaja palace. Our source said, “Anderson’s room has a large round bathtub. On the first night it was filled with bubbles and sprinkled with red rose petals.” CNN declined to comment.

    1. The prices seem really high. Inflation is a funny thing. The $188 VCR wouldn’t compare well to a $19.99 Biglots DVD player.

      1. Thanks to how easily computer technology is mass-manufactured, it’s one of those parts of the market where the price tends to go down over time even with inflation. Pocket calculators for the simplest functions used to go for over $100 when they were first introduced. Now you can sometimes pick them up free at job fairs. Desktop PCs used to go for thousands of dollars when they were new and some still do, but I got the nice Pentium IV I’m typing this on for less than a hundred.

  18. That Wendy’s ad, created by crass capitalists who were just trying to sell hamburgers, is a devastating swipe at totalitarianism. It’s a masterpiece of satire and, sadly, a dusty relic in our politically correct age of appeasement, hope, and just getting along.

    1. Yeah, just imagine them doing that with a guy in a burqa now. (According to my sources, that bulky peasant in the smock was actually a man in drag, as was the announcer.)

      1. Who could have predicted at the time that the 80’s
        would prove to be our most enlightened era?

        1. I think it was a Reason commenter who noted that All in the Family is more ahead of its time now than when it first aired 30 years ago.

    2. And what, exactly, does it satirize?

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  20. Matt didn’t even show up in person? No chance he’s going to get hit in the face with a chair. What a gyp.

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