The St.Peterburg Times, 22.03.2005
MOSCOW — From the businessman flaunting his Versace swimming trunks at the pool to the babushka shopping for Borzhomi mineral water at the local market, Russians love labels.
Now there’s a book that lists dozens of the country’s best known brands. Superbrands, a global rating agency of trademarks, presented last week the first Russian edition of its Superbrands book, listing 43 brands chosen from 1,100 consumer products by a jury.
The Russian book includes local mobile phone operators MegaFon and VimpelCom’s BeeLine, high-end brewer Tinkoff and Moya Semya fruit juices, as well as global heavyweights like K odak, Sony and BMW.
What began in Britain as an academic research project ten years ago has bloomed into a review of trademarks published in more than 40 countries, said Bill Colegrave, international director of Superbrands.
While certain names like Gillette and Nescafe are repeated in Superbrands books around the world — including Russia’s — the local edition is about half as thick as its British or U.S. Nevertheless, advertisers see the arrival of Superbrands as a good sign for the domestic advertising industry. A committee of 19 marketing and business experts, based their choices on their "personal opinions of each brand," said Vladimir Yevstafiyev, committee member and head of Reklamny Kartel ad agency.
Superbrand’s staff combed through consumer market publications and reports by Comcon, ACNielsen and other market research companies to compile a list of Russia’s 1,100 most famous brands, said Nina Alexeyeva, another committee member and the president of Superbrands in Russia.
From this pre-selection, the jury chose a shortlist of about 300 brands that elicit the greatest "positive emotional response" from consumers.
Only 43 "superbrands," however, made it into the colorful 110-page book because many contenders declined to participate, Alexeyeva said.
That may explain why Duracell’s pink bunny appears among Russia’s superbrands, while its arch nemesis, the Energizer bunny, is absent. Pepsi is also on the list, while Coca-Cola is not.
"I don’t see the value in participating in yet another contest," Vladimir Kravtsov, a spokesman for Coca-Cola, said. Coca-Cola participates in competitions with a longer history, he said.
It’s natural that fewer people would agree to be included in a publication that hasn’t gained momentum, said Jan Valdinger, head of Superbrands Czech Republic, which is also publishing its first edition of Superbrands this year.
Another important consideration is that branding industries are less devel oped in post-communist countries than in the West or even in India, Valdinger said, speaking by telephone from Prague.
Russia’s advertising industry was worth $3.9 billion last year and is expected to grow to $4.7 billion by the end of 2005, according to the Association of Communications Agencies of Russia.
Extra publicity is especially important for domestic brands, Yevstafiyev said. Superbrands like Viola, a Finish cheese spread already popular in Soviet times, does not need an introduction. Yet Neva tour agency, also showcased in the Superbrands book, can probably use the exposure.
"We find that many more local brands are included [in the editions], than people expect," Colegrave said. The domestic advertising industry is at a similar point as U.S. advertisers were after the Great Depression, Yevstafiyev said. "Companies that spent a lot of money [on their trademarks] then, are the world’s top brands now," he said, citing Ford as an example.
RUSSIA’S 43 ‘SUPERBRANDS
By Maria Levitov