In Russia, Advertising Is Often Very Sexist — And Very Weird

sexist russianCentro shoes: When you’ve nothing else to wear.

Russia has come a long way since the the Iron Curtain fell in 1991, and capitalism — or an oligarchic version thereof — blossomed.But Russian attitudes toward women often remain antediluvian. As recently as 20 years ago, for instance, it was rare to see a woman driving a car, according to Radio Free Europe. Under communism, the image of the Russian woman in a propaganda poster was a dowdy worker in denim and a headscarf.

Not so today. In modern Russian advertising, women have taken on a new role: sex object.

Ads being made in modern Russia look like the kind of thing we used to see in the U.S. in the early 1970s — “sexy,” but in the most sexist way possible. None of the ads in this gallery would fly in the U.S. this century.

This was one of very few safe-for-work months in the 2011 promotional calendar for Aeroflot, the Russian airline.

This is a brand of Russian candy flavored-cigarettes targeting teenage girls.

This is anti-alcohol public health campaign from M&C Saatchi in Moscow. (The copy is in English because ad agencies post translations of their work on for international clients to see.)

In Russian pop culture, this kind of advertising — Centro is a shoe brand — is normal.

Not even beer is safe.

This lottery ad harkens to the Soviet era, in which women performed drudgery in uniform. Agency: Apostol Media, Russia.

The other Russian stereotype, the babushka, is deployed to full effect here. Agency: Instinct, Moscow.

This mobile phone company had an entire campaign of print ads similar to this.

The entire brand positioning of Bulgarian / Russian brand Flirt is ... well, you can figure it out.

It's hard to believe that M&M/Mars would approve this ad, but its agency — BBDO Moscow — published it to promote itself.

This bank ad plays off the stereotype of the dumb, rich blonde.

The woman behind the counter is, of course, from another era.

Now for something slightly more classy ...

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