Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Russian brands reach success abroad «against all odds»

How come Russian brands are rarely featured in global rankings? Take Interbrand's list, for example. Of the 100 top global brands even a vodka brand is not from Russia. Well, it used to be in the pre-Soviet times. On the other hand, vast majority of the top 100 brands are prominent in the world's largest country. Why such asymmetry?

Interbrand's other list for top 40 non-monopoly Russian brands shows an explanation. It seems that Russia is best at producing either monopolies or local brands. Just a few ones of those listed may be considered global: Baltika, Lukoil, KAMAZ.

But then there are Russian software companies Kaspersky and ABBYY, good examples of local brands that have gone global. But both are apparently too small to be in either list.

Alexandra Kulikova is the editor at RBCC Bulletin, a monthly magazine produced by the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, a 95-year-old association with offices in London, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She said the asymmetry she sees is in the prevailing exports from the UK to Russia.

Kulikova played down poor coverage of Russia in the UK media and said that Britons taking such coverage for granted “are rarely seen coming to Russia”.

Of Russian brands visible in the UK she mentioned Kaspersky, Beeline, Goltsblat BLP, VTB Capital and few others adding that “their success was sport-like – against all odds”.

Now, is that a genuine outside perception of Russian brands? After all, we Russians love seeing stuff done against the odds.

UPD: Here's a good sign. Three Russian PR agencies made it to the Holmes Report Top 250 Global Rankings. CROS and Pro-Vision Group entered the list at #55 and #174, respectively, while AGT Communications ranked #58. Hat tip to

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nominations for the Silver Archer 2011 Russian PR awards revised

Board of Trustees of the Silver Archer Russian PR awards defined the following nine nominations for 2011, the 15th season:

  • Best project in business communications

  • Best project in territory development and promotion

  • Best project in social communications and charity

  • Best project in scientific achievements and innovations

  • Communications in the global world

  • Best public relations development publication

  • Master (as proposed by the Expert Council)

  • Person of distinction (as proposed by the Board of Trustees)

  • Contribution to cultural development (as proposed by the Board of Trustees)

The Board of Trustees and the Jury additionally have the right to award the 10th, Special prize.

UPD: In an opinion piece in the Sovetnik (Advisor) magazine, Nadezhda Yavdolyuk, Silver Archer's prominent Executive Director wrote: "Projects of great ideas and tight budgets were featured in the awards of 2008-2010 because or notwithstanding the crisis. A new trend [is the arrival] of large scale multilevel highly integrated projects."

Yavdolyuk wrote the new Communications in the global world nomination was created for these kind of projects. "Authors, executives and experts should beware of the multilayered information noise in which main goals and objectives can get lost," she warned.

Entries will be received from 15 November to 31 December 2011. Presentations and awards ceremony will be held on 14-15 February, 2012.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Innovating communications for communicating Russia's innovations

A roundtable on new communication techniques for innovation projects was held in Moscow by INVEL, a non-commercial partnership that unites power engineering companies, and Russian PR Association's Committee on communications in the Oil & Energy sector.

Eugeny Kuznetsov, Director of Development and Communications Department, Russian Venture Company, went back into history to see the roots of miscommunication between Russian science and its stakeholders.

“The scientific sector requires delivery orders and problem staging. In the USSR this was well understood and implemented. The market economy of today has failed to become the main customer for the sector. Therefore, the key communication has been lost,” Kuznetsov said.

He said that “in globally-integrated Russia of today, the science has fallen out of global context.”

“Websites of scientific organizations feature news republished from the media. [Authors] can't write articles for international journals up to their standards,” Kuznetsov said.

Low qualification of employees could be a reason. “Twenty years ago your wife or girlfriend would be [the choice for] a PR manager. Today, a similar process is taking place within innovative companies,” Kuznetsov said.*

He concluded that communication should become a key skill for R&D managers of innovation companies, while communicators should focus on particular innovation projects and not the topic in general.


UPD. * Svetlana Kolosova, President at PR Consultancy "Staraya Ploshchad",  presented this kind of cronyism as Russian version of the 4P's of Marketing: [Pure] devotion,  [Pure] devotion, [Pure] devotion, Professionalism.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Challenges and opportunities of regional branding in Russia

Russian chapter of IABC held a roundtable at the press center of RIA Novosti devoted to the theme of branding Russia's regions. Here are the highlights of the discussion that lasted for over two hours.

In the Russian Federation there are 83 federal subjects, including 21 republics complete with own heads of state and heraldry. Plus, of course, the federal heraldry.

Demand for regional branding comes mainly from the authorities. Igor Mintusov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nikkolo M group of companies, said: “Regional governors are interested in attracting tourists, investment, and making sure the population stays in the region.”

Since mid-90s, visual branding has increasingly been a tool for highlighting projects in Russia's regions and cities. But, according to Andrey Lapshov, President, IABC/Russia, branding a region represents a real challenge to marketers on par with global corporate marketing projects.

“Territorial branding has been practiced worldwide for over 20 years compared to 5-7 years in Russia,” Alexander Chumikov, Director, International Press Club, said. “There is not a single local agency able to handle such complex promotion projects.”

Lack of expertise leads to excessive caution which limits creativity. “[Regional] brands in Russia are created for a theme and not with a purpose,” Pavel Rodkin, branding expert at RIA Novosti, said. He also gave a brilliant example (see page 4 of the PDF document) of how Russia is viewed as a brandless desert.

To cope with the challenge, contractors are inviting international professionals as consultants. The result is much better when they are assigned particular tasks and no hidden agenda is involved. Here is a nice example of a promo video for the ancient city of Kazan, capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan will host the Universiade games of 2013. Hat tip to Oleg Manzha, Director General, Sportima.

There are easier and obviously cheaper ways to win attention from target audiences. “Any regional town in Russia can outshine Paris or Milan for a day,” Andrey Pourtov, Co-Founder and Director General,, said. “All the promotion budget should go to a single but unique project.”