Brits who travel a lot on business won’t be strangers to the commercials of various national tourist bodies that appear on BBC World News, CNN and the like.  These examples of national branding are sometimes informative, often quite surprising and I suspect not always accurate, but so many have jumped on the (quite-rightly highly praised) Incedible India bandwaggon that they are now becoming wallpaper.  Time for India to “up” their game maybe.

Among the better look-alikes are the efforts of  Turkey, Macedonia, Croatia, none of which quite match the Indian production for originality or execution, but has anybody seen the latest effort from Moscow?  I caught it once and, in many respects, that was enough.  I can’t remember the strap line, “Moscow – not just any city” or something, but the production did leave me with a deep yearning to be anywhere BUT Moscow.  It was absolutely terrible!

I haven’t seen it again, but I may just have been lucky.  I can’t even find a copy on the Internet to show you, its not on any show reels that I can access and its not even on the Moscow Tourism web site.  Perhaps the Kremlin have stepped in and erased all records?  I have been trying to discover who produced it, but it seems the offending agency are, quite understandably, keeping their heads down too.  If they are smart enough to have created an integrated campaign the matching mailshot would have to be body-parts or something in the post, but happily they clearly aren’t – smart enough that is – otherwise they wouldn’t have produced this dog!

I suppose you have to give them full marks for honesty at least.  They certainly couldn’t be acused of copying the Incredible India format or of making promises that they can’t deliver.  The references to night-life and historical buildings and the campaign strap-line are all almost apologetic and the overall presentation is excrutiatingly boring, bordering on intimidating.  Even the voice-over sounds like Vincent Price!  This is definitely the Moscow I know – a place where the seats on tourist coaches are fitted with manacles rather than seat-belts, to ensure that tourists don’t get off and run for the border!

I’ve been dealing with a Moscow agency recently who were bemoaning the lack of the skills of the planners and strategists they have access to.  Maybe, the problem is deeper than this?  I’m used to weak management, strange attitudes, poor skills and lack of experience of marketers in Central and Eastern Europe – its understandable to a point, but Moscow is trying to establish itself as a major world city with all that goes with it and I’m surprised that a flagship marketing campaign this awful would have made it to the screen.  Can you help solve the mystery of the disappearing TVC?  If you know where there is a copy post the URL so that we can all see it again and if you have the story behind this by all means dish the dirt.  We all want to hear.

Michael Weaver
March 9, 2010

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