Moscow Meets Madison Avenue: The Adventures of the First American Adman in the U.S.S.R.

Gary Burandt, Author, Nancy Giges, With HarperCollins Publishers $22.5 (222p) ISBN 978-0-88730-570-2
Burandt, unfortunately, fails to cap his claimed distinction as ``first American adman in the U.S.S.R.'' with a first-rate book about it. The Soviet Union was still extant when the Young and Rubicam agency opened a Moscow branch, the joint venture Y & R/Sovero; 18 months later, when Burandt turned the office over to his successor in April, 1990, the agency's ledgers showed a ruble profit and a dollar loss, and clients included Kodak, Xerox and Rodale Press. How it all came about ought to make an exciting, instructive tale, but Burandt and Giges, an Advertising Age editor, present a product that's likely to be a hard sell. The book's chronology is haphazard and the material covered repetitive. Yet there are wonderful anecdotes here about the frustrations of finding and equipping an office in Moscow, training a Russian staff, bribing Soviet bureaucrats (Y & R/Sovero could procure a telex number only with the pay-off of a woman's blue sweater, size 14). And poignant to read about is the agency's Colgate launch giving away 70,000 ``tiny'' tubes of toothpaste, for which Muscovites happily queued up for hours; astonishing is the tampon campaign for Johnson & Johnson after competitor Tampax, which introduced the product there, sold two million boxes in three days. J & J had planned to price its tampon at one ruble, until women, who previously had to rely on home-prepared rags, told market researchers that they would gladly pay up to five rubles. Perhaps it should be suggested to Boris Yeltsin that priority production of sanitary napkins could salvage the Russian economy? Photos not seen by PW . (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!