Brands pulling out of RussiaWithin two months from the start of the war, brands, either of their own volition or under social pressure, started limiting their business ventures in Russia to disassociate themselves from the aggressor. In fact, all 10 of the most valuable brands worldwide have ceased, suspended, or curtailed their sales, shipments, or operations in the country. McDonald’s announced that it will leave the Russian market entirely and sell the business. Apple and Microsoft have suspended sales; Amazon, Google, and Coca-Cola have suspended operations at least partially; Samsung and Mercedes-Benz have halted shipments while Toyota stopped the import and export of car parts; Disney put new content releases on pause.
Agency holdings vacating Russian operationsSimilar to brands, the big six holding groups have also announced their withdrawal from Russia. WPP decided to leave the Russian market in early March 2022, stating that its continued presence in the country would go against the company’s values. Soon after, Havas said they would suspend new investments in Russia until a peace resolution was in place. IPG was the next to announce that they would be ceding the Russian business to local management, after which Publicis followed with a like decision. Dentsu and Omnicom were the final holdings to announce their departure from the country, with Dentsu transferring business ownership to a local joint-venture, and Omnicom suspending operations and starting a process to pass on their current investments.
Agencies using their creative power for goodParallelly, marketing and advertising agencies have also been pulling out of Russia. Many agencies, especially those originating from Ukraine, have been making and calling for the making of creatives backing the Ukrainian cause and supporting the country’s courage. Banda Agency, in particular, formed a campaign #braveukraine which is open to any submissions showcasing the valiant people of Ukraine. These images have been present in prominent places around the world, including North America and Europe. At the same time, Kyiv-based agency Bickerstaff is working with the Ukrainian government on campaigns unmasking Russian propaganda. They also use the creatives to keep the people of Ukraine on the minds of those in other countries around the globe. On top of that, they also established a cooperation with humanitarian groups to help raise money for such causes.
And then there are grassroots initiatives such as the collective of digital ad experts who wage a war against propaganda on the aggressor’s online soil, dedicating their efforts to placing ads on Russian websites and social media, showing the actual events unfolding in Ukraine, and exposing the misinformation served in public media.