Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Don't Mess with Father Frost!
I found this very interesting article in the Moscow Times: Ads Denying Existence of Russian Santa Clause Cause Outcry in Moscow
The Advertising developer Donstroy faced severe criticism after using the slogan "There's No Father Frost - but there are Discounts!" in one of its campaigns. Muscovite parents decried the ad on social media claiming that it would be "psychologically traumatic" for their children. Father Frost is a New Years icon residual of the Soviet Era, popularized in response to the Western Santa Claus.
The public outcry has been taken so seriously that the Federal Anti-Monopoly Agency, that monitors advertisement agencies and enforces advertising legislation, has gotten involved. Bureaucrats from the Anti-Monopoly Agency have stated that there's no infraction at this time - because Father Frost only comes at New Year's - but pledged to closely monitor the advertising firm to see if the ad continues closer to the New Year holiday, implying then it would be a problem.
I found this article very interesting for several reasons. First, it shows how much Russian cultural artifacts are still shaped by the Soviet legacy, despite repeated attempts to define itself to the contrary. Second, it highlights the bureaucratic limitations advertising companies have in exercising freedom of information. Third, and most importantly, it gives yet another example (after the Anti-LGBT Propaganda Laws of Putin's renewed presidency) of the deeply rooted Russian value of preserving the innocence and naivety of children. I think this story while seemingly frivolous and verging on ridiculous on the surface, draws attention to many complexities of Russian culture and society in the Post-Soviet world.