MOSCOW MEETS MADISON AVENUE: The Adventures of the First American Adman in the U.S.S.R. by Gary with Nancy Giges Burandt

MOSCOW MEETS MADISON AVENUE: The Adventures of the First American Adman in the U.S.S.R.

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A Western executive's fascinating account of the toil and trouble attendant to opening a Moscow office for a transnational ad agency. With an assist from Giges (international editor for Advertising Age), Burandt recounts the travail involved in joining forces with a state-owned enterprise to establish an outpost for Young & Rubicam in what was then the USSR, whose wary citizens still equated advertising with propaganda. Wisely, Burandt--who recounts his tale in topical rather than chronological fashion--doesn't play his experiences for laughs, opting instead for a straightforward audit of what capitalists may encounter in an erstwhile empire whose people were profoundly affected by over 70 years of Communist rule. Even a putatively willing partner like the Soviet Chamber of Commerce, Burandt discovered, was hard put to overcome the bureaucratic inertia that delayed the launch of his employer's Soviet branch for over a year (until 1989). Eventually, he and a p.r. associate set up a shop for a firm that boasts many world-class clients--Coca-Cola, Colgate, DuPont, GM, Sony, etc. Along the way, the author mastered the fine art of additional incentives--i.e., modest bribes that made lower-echelon officials more amenable to bucking a system whose implicit rationale was that whatever is not expressly permitted may be deemed forbidden. In addition, he discovered that market research was less than reliable in a multicultural society where people tended to give interrogators the answers they believed were wanted. Covered as well are the lack of media in the late USSR; the training of indigenous personnel to become competitive; ways to deal with fast-buck artists more interested in quick financial killings than in enduring relationships; the expatriate community's housing woes; and the empty-shelf hardships of a centrally planned economy. An outlander's illuminating, cautionary briefing on an odyssey in what once was envisioned a workers' paradise.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperBusiness