A little myth-busting never hurts
Standing in the centre of the Red Square in Moscow in -18°C
temperatures (without the wind-chill…) recently, I was made aware
of the huge contrasts that seem to be the hallmark of the Muscovite
way of life.
I had seen this very same square on TV and on photo hundreds of
times but nothing prepared me for the vastness of it. It really is
on a different scale and so is the whole of Moscow! I was out there
on business with Clif Collier, MD of Fifth Ring, visiting an agency
that is planning on joining BBN. It was my first time in Russia,
and I travelled there with a mind as open as possible but with a
few anecdotes in mind which I had been told over the years.
I decided to fly Aeroflot to experience my first taste of
Russian service. It was courteous and unobtrusive. The food served
onboard was as good as any I have had on planes but a far cry from
the terrible fayre I was told they served. The plane was extremely
clean which cannot be said for a lot of other companies. The (very)
early morning arrival was an opportunity for me to get an idea of
what the customs would be like - having had some issues with
obtaining visas in London in preparation for the trip - and I was
efficiently dealt with. The airport terminal was vast and spotless
and I got onto a fast train into town in a matter of minutes.
Needless to say this hadn't lived up to some of my preconceptions
and I was very glad of it. I checked into the hotel at 07:00 AM and
was called within five minutes of arriving in my room to be asked
if I was happy with it. My entire stay in Moscow - all 36 hours of
it - went like a dream.
All the people I came across were extremely helpful. The team at
the agency we were visiting were extremely welcoming, young and
professional which shouldn't have come as a major surprise given
the fact advertising has only existed in Russia for the best part
of 15 years… I got the sense that people work long hours and that
they are determined to make a difference: they are passionate about
At the end of the day, it was only the contrast between the very
rich and the very poor which I saw in the streets which was a
reminder that this is a country that is only slowly getting back
onto its feet. I took the decision when I left that I would come
back and try and venture out to another part of Russia to try and
experience first hand what Russian life really is about. After all,
Moscow like every other capital city I have ever visited before,
only tells you half the story.