“Russia introduces a complete ban on beef, pork, cheese from the European Union. Of course, it’s a tough decision for sellers of such type of goods.” These words were spoken by Russian prime minister Medvedev in 2014, banning the import of many Western products as a retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine. As a consequence, merchants of authentic European foods in various Russian cities were hit hard by this decision, unable to sell their products.
However, not all merchants chose to accept that. Don Giulio Salumeria, a traditional Italian grocery store in Moscow, came up with quite a clever solution to bypass this ban. Besides continuing to sell its products, it needed to make sure that people would believe it was selling real, authentic Italian products. The best way to do so? Simple: by advertising! There remained one problem, however. How could it adverstise without tipping off the police?
With a little help from agency The 23, Don Giulio Salumeria was able to design an outdoor advertisement that was able to detect police uniforms within proximity. Whenever the police would come near the advertisement, it just cycled out of its rotating, displaying an advertisement on Russian Matrushka dolls rather than Italian cheeses and wines. In that sense, it was physically hiding from authorities.
We have seen before that advertisements can be subjected to inventive usage, ranging from ‘illegal advertisement’ to more practical matters such as facilitating temporal couches or beds for homeless people. What makes this particular case interesting, however, is that it seems to carry a political tone- one connecting to issues of Westernization and (commercial) influences of Western countries in other parts of the world. The ban, together with the prohibition of certain advertisements reminds us of mayor Gilberto Kassab its Clean City law in São Paulo, removing all outdoor advertising in the city in 2011. Maybe Medvedev and Kassab should meet over some Italian wine and reconsider their drastic actions?