Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hyper-Commercialism and Irony


Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears blog has the images and translations of an TsUM advertising campaign that is pissing off many Russians.

From the UK's Telegraph:
Moscow's oldest department store, which was infamous in Soviet days for its empty shelves and churlish staff, is at the centre of controversy after telling young schoolgirls to wear Western designer clothes or else become social outcasts.

In a demonstration of the extent to which the land of Lenin has embraced consumerism, TsUM - the Russian capital's equivalent of Harrods - placed a display in its windows with the slogan: "If you don't wear Prada, you're a reject".

In a series of cartoons, a girl of about six is shown sneering at the childish pleasures of life.

One shows her turning her back on her teddy bear and toy bunny, saying: "I don't need you two any more. Now all I'm interested in is clothes."

In another she tells the unhappy bear: "You are unfashionable! Farewell!"

Standing across from the Bolshoi Theatre, TsUM has become a symbol of New Russia. Brimming with clothes and accessories, from Gucci to new Russian favourite Dolce & Gabbana, it is frequented by a growing number of affluent customers. But with its latest stunt, the store seems to have misjudged the public mood.

Russia's newspapers - broadsheets and tabloids alike - have reacted with outrage, mourning a crude attack on childhood innocence.

"TsUM likes to portray itself as a world-class store on a level with Harrods, yet it speaks with a nouveau riche accent," commented Komsomolskaya Pravda, the country's biggest newspaper, on its front page.

"It is difficult to imagine Harrods declaring that only rejects don't drive Bentleys."
Yes, I'm sure that Harrods is kicking themselves for not thinking of it themselves ...

Actually, almost all marketing of luxury items implies some level of cool or the exceptional. Given the style of the cartoons in the TsUM advertisement, I thought it was quite clear that the ads were meant to be humorous or ironic.

I suppose the perceived innocence of childhood is something you don't mess with in Russia.

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