What’s not to like?
Russians think Vladimir Putin is the country’s most successful leader since 1917, according to a recent survey conducted by Romir Monitoring. Thirty-seven percent of respondents voted for Putin, while Joseph Stalin took second with 19%, and Leonid Brezhnev came in third with 11%. The survey showed that most of Putin’s supporters are young, well educated, relatively affluent members of society. Among respondents 60 years of age and older, Stalin came in first.
United Colors of ...Tinkoff?
St. Petersburg-based brewery Tinkoff is taking on the big boys of the Russian beer market with its super-premium suds – and is pulling out all the stops to capture market share. Late last year the company hired controversial Italian marketing guru Oliviero Toscani, known for his edgy ad campaigns of the ‘80s and ‘90s for companies like United Colors of Benetton. His Benetton ads featured photographs of a black woman breastfeeding a white baby and a series on death row inmates - that eventually got him fired. As Tinkoff’s creative director, Toscani has wasted no time making a stir in the Motherland. One new ad suggests a spontaneous lesbian encounter between two young women trying on clothes in a fashionable boutique, while another shows a man lying on the deck of a yacht flanked by a pair of naked women, one black and one white. The message throughout is subtle, but consistent: “Drink Tinkoff beer and set yourself apart from the crowd.” At least one of the ads has already been pulled off the air, and there is pressure from various groups to reign the company in a bit. Whether you like Toscani’s work or not, the campaign seems to be working. Sales are up 40% this year. Commercials can be downloaded at www.tinkoff.ru.
Tsum-Thing Old, Tsum-Thing New
The giant department store TsUM, across the street from the Bolshoi Theatre on Petrovka, has traditionally been one of the capital’s less stylish retailers. But the store is starting to look like an upscale Western department store – and in a couple years its handlers hope it will be something akin to Barney’s in New York. The $30 million reconstruction project calls for the total renovation of the building’s interior, which will feature a spacious, open floor plan and rack-upon-gleaming-rack of imported designer clothing, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics. Luxury goods retailer Mercury snapped up a controlling stake in the new project, meaning the second and third floors, which are already open for business, sell men’s labels like Georgio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna Sport, and Hugo Boss. Women’s brands include Sonia Rykel, Miu Miu, Emilio Pucci, and Missoni. A second, five-story building is under construction on an adjacent lot, and the two structures will eventually be linked by a suspended glass passageway – bringing the total area of the complex to over 25,000 square meters. Although fit-out and finishing work continues in the main building, the store is open daily from 10am to 8pm.
Odds And Enzo
Ferrari will become the latest entry on the luxury sports car market with the May opening of its first Russian dealership on Tretyakovsky Proezd. Owned by luxury retailer Mercury, which last year opened its wildly successful Bentley showroom at the same downtown address, the dealership will also sell Maserati. Russia is the 50th country to get a coveted Ferrari dealership. Interested buyers are advised to hurry in for a test drive before the annual allotment is sold out. If the Bentley dealership is any indication, that should be about a week after it opens.
...And the Rich Get Richer
Moscow trails only New York City in number of resident billionaires, if Forbes magazine’s new ranking of the world’s wealthiest people is to be believed. Of the 25 Russians who made this year’s list, no fewer than 23 live in Moscow; NYC has 31. Former Yukos head Misha Khodorkovsky, despite having been forced into early retirement, saw his personal wealth skyrocket from $8 billion to $15 billion over the last year. He remains Russia’s richest man, and checks in at No. 16 worldwide. Fellow oil baron, metals magnate, and the world’s most enthusiastic football fan, Roman Abramovich had to content himself with the title of Russia’s second - richest again this year. His hard-earned $10.6 billion makes him only 25th on the master list. Poor Boris Berezovsky, Russia’s former No. 1, didn’t make the list at all.
Ramstore, the New Up-market
Expats who have been around for a while may know Ramstore as the Turkish retail giant that broke the mold by opening Russia’s first Western hypermarkets back in the mid-90s. The company has developed a loyal customer base over the years, offering a wide selection of imported and domestic goods at ‘sensible’ prices. So old hands like us at PASSPORT were pleasantly surprised to find out that the company’s latest store, located on the lower level of the newly-opened business center “Novinsky, 31,” just down the street from the U.S. Embassy on the Garden Ring, is decidedly up-market.
The store has marble floors, oak wall paneling, and sleek modern shelving units; shoppers are serenaded by jazz while they shop. While much smaller than other Ramstore hypermarkets and supermarkets, some of which boast up to 35,000 items, the Novinsky location offers a much more select range of premium goods. Catering to businesspeople and diplomats who work in the area, the new store sells fresh meats and fish, over 250 varieties of cheese, bread and pastries baked on-site, and imported wines, liquors, and candies. Parking is available. The store is open daily from 10am-10pm at 31 Novinsky Boulevard, M. Barrikadnaya.