As capitalism replaces communism in the former Soviet Union, Russians are dealing with some of the issues that Americans have faced for decades, including a relentless assault of advertising. Moscow, it seems, is rapidly becoming one big billboard. Advertising messages are covering the entire facades of the city’s skyscrapers, and the head of the Moscow Government Advertising Committee works in a building covered by a 24-story high ad for a cell phone company. The city’s public transportation system also has been saturated with advertising. According to one report, a single car on the subway system has more than 100 ads, not counting the illegally placed stickers advertising everything from help obtaining work permits to erectile dysfunction drugs. Some of the ads are a bit risqué. One towering billboard for vodka shows a gigantic cucumber placed next to a ruler with the caption, “Size Does Matter.” The proliferation is angering some of the more conservative groups in Russia. One group refers to Moscow as a “moral disaster zone” and vows to fight “immoral advertising.” A Russian religious leader blamed the advertising for alcohol consumption by young people. The Moscow Government Advertising Committee is responding to complaints by promising to reduce the number of ads by 30 percent during the next two years.
—Posted by Jim Lovel