BUSINESS

LITTLE PUZZLE

MALCOLM GRAY October 22 1990
BUSINESS

LITTLE PUZZLE

MALCOLM GRAY October 22 1990

LITTLE PUZZLE

For many Soviet chk rrent toy advertisement near the arries a familiar message: look, b touch. That is because the giant G, -^nt store has no Lego in stock to. kibe customers attracted by a^ window display of the interior. Growing numbers of such Western promotions now brighten Moscow’s , deprived main streets. For most So citizens, however, the stereos and oth Western products featured on billboards, television and radio spots and in newspaper and magazine ads are the stuff of dreams: they are only available for hard currency, which most Soviets do not have. Still, five Western advertising firms—including London-based Saatchi & Saatchi Co. PLC—have opened or plan to open Moscow offices in

anticipation of a Soviet switch to a market economy and a convertible ruble. Michael Adams, who has directed the Moscow branch of the New York City-based Young & Rubicam Inc. ad agency for the past two years, tells newly arriving competitors not to make empty promises. “We have told our clients not to get too far in front of their ability to deliver goods,” says Adams. “Otherwise, they are risking creating confusion, envy and even anger.” He makes only modest claims for the outcome of a campaign in which ads for Colgateffmolive Co. brand toothpaste will soon ap\^on signs on the sides of municipal buses in Aw and Kiev—an approach that Pepsico Iready using. But Western-style adverx marketing are still rare in a country umers are ready to snatch goods of at nd and quality from store shelves. Ada ^ Western ad-agency representative they spent only about $15 million At market last year—about one-fifth ''e Canadian government

alone spends on advertising each year. As a result, many current ads—including the discreet appearance of the Olivetti computer company’s corporate logo in a countdown to state television’s national newscast each night—simply keep a company’s name before the Soviet public. But other firms are already promoting their products vigorously. Pepsico and Samsung Co. Ltd., a huge South Korean conglomerate best known for its electronics firm, jointly sponsor a popular television game show based on the Canadian board game Trivial Pursuit. It features teams of Pepsi-sipping contestants vying for Samsung products. But Soviet game shows fall far short of the slick product endorsements common on North American quiz programs: in Moscow, when the winners receive their prizes, stagehands wheel the Samsung television sets and video recorders before the cameras still packed in their factory shipping cartons. MALCOLM GRAY in Moscow