Monday, July 29, 2013

Soviet Propoganda à la 2013

"Glory to work!"
As I'm headed to a place this week called пивбар союз (Beer-Bar Union), a place with a big communist sickle and hammer right on the sign and an ad for "26 uah Soviet business lunches" below that, there's no better time than now to share this collection I've been building.
Завод імені В.О. Малишева (that's Ukrainian for Factory "V.O. Malishev"), founded over 100 years ago. It's produced everything from tractors to tanks and even designed flame-thrower tanks! This year they landed a $50 million contract producing tank parts for Pakistan.
There are still bits and pieces of the USSR that decorate the city; an emblem here, a statue of Lenin there, an old yellow inspection notice in the elevator at D's work. Last year I shared some of the noble but fading murals that grace the city. One tiny niche I've been trying to track down is old Soviet propoganda, redone and being used to sell something.

This idea first came to my attention when a set of notebooks caught my eye in the supermarket. They were blank children's school notebooks, each based on an old propaganda poster but remade to say something along the lines of "you'd better do your homework and be a good student!" Sadly, I didn't have much cash at that point, nor a camera phone, so those notebooks live on only in my memory. The back-to-school supplies are out now but all of them feature pictures of BMWs, boxers, and butterflies.

This famous poster from the 1920s is all over the place, most noticeably at cell phone shops throughout the city...
...but instead of asking people if they've enlisted, he's pictured saying Have you bought a flash drive yet?

Here he is in a newspaper for Russian-speakers living in England-
Have you done your tax return?
And here he is again, informing you that you can save money on clothes and shoes at this shop-

Or perhaps you would prefer to join OpenStack?
A student showed up to class in this t-shirt one day.

This picture from the meat section at Central Market is one of my favorites-
Have you bought pork?
For all I know, though, this could be an actual poster that's been up there for the past few decades.

Here's a woman reminding you to keep your mouth shut-
Don't chat!
And she's turned up again in 2013-
Quiet, low prices!
To round out this nostalgic collection with a reminder of the 90s (ie, post-Soviet stuff!), meet Lyonya Golubkov, a simple man who just wanted to buy his wife some boots and ended up showing the Russian-speaking world how to become millionaires*.
(*not really. For the full story, read my post on the MMM scheme and how it defrauded an entire nation.)
I'm buying my wife boots, 2013 window ad in a Ukrainian shoe store

It's been fun to hunt down all of these re-purposed ads, but what I'll really remember is the beauty of the old murals and mosiacs, slowly crumbling away.


  1. I love the remnants of the Soviet Union that are scattered around Eastern Europe! I haven't seen anything like those ad campaigns in Russia, though!

    1. Hi Polly! It seems like only this year I've noticed these kinds of ads appearing... maybe they'll turn up in Russia eventually? Or maybe Moscow is too cosmopolitan?
      Btw, I'm totally digging your new site, well done!!

  2. Such a weird interest...USSR. I don;t know many young people who'd like to live in that epoch. It's just Kharkov is close to Russia, and there people really miss the USSR.

    1. It's not a weird interest for a foreigner, Lena :p Sometimes I think it's only very old locals and (any age) foreigners who are interested in this stuff.