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Opinion and Insight

We Are Specialists in Russian Soul

Embrace the ‘Ural state of mind’ with creatives Daria Ovechkina and Anton Rozhin

We Are Specialists in Russian Soul

‘Advertise like Putin is not watching’. In Russia, that’s easier said than done. But creatives Daria Ovechkina and Anton Rozhin reckon it’s more possible than you might imagine – particularly in the country’s smaller creative hubs that lie far away from Moscow… and the eyes of the Kremlin.

The pair both work at Voskhod, the top independent agency in Russia. It’s situated 2,000km from Moscow in the city of Yekaterinburg, nestled on the Eastern side of the Ural Mountains. Their location, they argue, means that the city has fostered a wild creative scene, one that acts with freedom and humour.

Daria

Indeed, the city is home to Russia’s biggest graffiti and street art festival, Stenograffia, and ‘Ural Rock’ is a big musical subgenre as the city is home to so many well-known rock musicians. “Yekaterinburg is creative from any point of view, not only advertising,” says Daria.


Anton

The city is relatively small – 1.35 million people compared with Moscow’s 11.98 million. That means it’s appealing to creatives who value a less frenetic pace of life. There are plenty of gigs and museums and galleries – but nothing takes too long to get to. 

But, argue the team at Voskhod, an agency that has been operating since 1996, operating away from the fads and glamour of Moscow also gives them a better view on the lives of ordinary Russians.


“We know how people live. The big agencies in Moscow, people think more about money, their lifestyle, cool executions. Sometimes they forget about deep ideas and how people live in smaller cities,” says Daria. “Russia is a really big country, huge. They think about their own prestige on a project, not for the brand and not about the people. We live here Yekaterinburg everyday. We look at how people live, not just in the capital but in simple, small cities. We are specialists in Russian soul. We can create ideas that appeal not only to hipsters in Moscow, but people everywhere.”

Daria and Anton are due to talk at Golden Drum in Slovenia this October and they hope that they can inspire creatives and agencies who work in non-capital cities to embrace the freedom and alternative viewpoint that being outside the bubble allows. That’s why their talk, ‘Advertise like Putin is not watching’, is relevant to independent spirits both within and outside of Russia.


“I want to encourage people from independent agencies, maybe smaller cities, to build their own way of doing things, to be brave. Not to try and repeat the ideas of big agencies, to try and think about the people around them instead. To think about the small insight and try to make a difference,” says Daria.

Ultimately, perhaps we could all learn something from what the pair call a ‘Ural state of mind’. “You cannot live under the snow without some humour!”