Gorbachev: former Soviet leader was an unlikely 90s icon

The death of Mikhail Gorbachev has set this well-scripted 1998 Pizza Hut ad trending. Filmed in Red Square, it was aired internationally but never ran in Russia.

Quite a coup for BBDO, although apparently the former leader of the Soviet Union refused to eat any pizza – he left that to his granddaughter.

Pizza Hut was one of the first foreign-owned restaurants to open in Soviet Russia, thanks to Gorbachev’s perestroika policies. The chain has pulled out of the country since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

It’s hard to imagine the current Russian leader taking such a benign role in popular culture. “Gorby” also featured in a Louis Vuitton luggage ad with the line, “A journey brings us face to face with ourselves”, shot by Annie Leibovitz:

And was a regular on Spitting Image back in the day.



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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.