A Soviet First : Izvestia Opens Its Pages to Foreign Ads
The newspaper Izvestia, which for decades thundered against capitalists in columns of small, gray type, splashed on some green Tuesday and opened its pages for the first time to foreign advertisers.
Two pages of ads from European and U.S. companies were the first in a weekly effort “to give Western businessmen the possibility to enter into direct dialogue with future Soviet partners who are trying to set up contacts with the foreign market,” the government newspaper said in a front-page announcement.
In announcing an agreement Oct. 15 to cooperate on the advertising project with West Germany’s Burda magazine, Izvestia called advertising the “engine of trade.”
State-run enterprises are freer under President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s reforms to buy and sell on the world market to attract the new technology that the Soviet leader says his country needs to modernize its industry. But Izvestia said they need an open exchange of information with foreign firms. “There are completely new problems for us. One of them, and by far not the last, is business information.”
$50,000 Price Tag
The French firm Pechiney bought all of Page 5 in the eight-page edition, proclaiming, “French perfumes, French wines and the French effort to find comfort have been well-known to you for a long time. Now you have a chance to get more closely acquainted with industrial France.”
Karl Schlue, the Moscow representative of West Germany’s Dresdner Bank, said he did not know precisely how much the advertising cost but that a full page was about $50,000. Payment is in hard currency, which the average Soviet cannot possess legally.
Schlue said it was difficult to anticipate how often his company would advertise or what kind of results it expected.
Dresdner Bank, the first Western bank to open an office in Moscow in 1973, had a quarter of Page 6 with a green stripe matching the splash of green on the paper’s front page.
Other advertisers included Armand Hammer’s Occidental Petroleum of Los Angeles, Monsanto and the Munich-based Mann firm. Most of the firms have permanent representatives in Moscow, and Pechiney provided information about its joint project to build an aluminum factory in Soviet Armenia.
The ads represented a sharp turnabout for the central press. Soviet newspapers usually consist of four to six broad sheets of small type crammed from top to bottom of each page. They have not accepted any advertising.
In recent years, newspapers such as Moscow News, which is at the forefront of Gorbachev’s drive for greater openness and restructuring Soviet society, have begun publishing occasional ads for state-run enterprises.
The ads in Tuesday’s Izvestia almost exclusively explained the companies’ business in simple type with few illustrations. There was no change in the format of the rest of the paper.
Izvestia said that for the time being, the advertising will be carried once a week in papers distributed in Moscow and abroad. That will make up not less than 600,000 of the paper’s total distribution of about 9 million copies.
It said the advertising would stress industrial and scientific products to help bolster the Soviet economy rather than foreign consumer goods that are not for sale in the Soviet Union and cannot be purchased with consumers’ non-convertible rubles.
Ads for Aeroflot, the state-run airline, or items in constant deficit, such as toothpaste and tights will not appear.