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New feminist ad campaign by Reebok Russia features cunnilingus joke that's promptly deleted

Meduza

On February 7, the Russian branch of the footwear and apparel company Reebok unveiled its new advertising campaign. Titled “Ni v kakie ramki” (Out of Control), the promotion is intended to “dispel myths about traditional male and female professions.” The ads are modeled on the English-language “Be More Human” campaign, which focuses on “strong women.”

Reebok’s Russian ads feature European wrestling champion Anzhelika Pilyaeva, mixed martial artist Justyna Graczyk, and Zalina Marshenkulova, the co-creator of the feminist Telegram channel Zhenskaya Vlast (Woman Power). On social media, Reebok shared several photos and videos showing the women talk about how they have succeeded in life, despite gender stereotypes.

#OutOfControl / Reebok Women
Reebok Russia

One of the ads posted to Reebok’s Instagram account generated significant interest among Internet users. The image showed Marshenkulova together with a sexually suggestive slogan she devised herself: “Don’t sit around hooked on male approval — sit on a man’s face.”

After several hours, Reebok deleted all the ads from its Instagram page. The company quickly restored the images, except for the picture with Marshenkulova and the cunnilingus joke.

Alexander Golofast, Reebok’s head market specialist in Russia, told the television network Dozhd that the brand’s management had approved all the slogans in advance. After the launch of the campaign, however, management told him that the language was “awful, horrible, and horrendous,” and demanded its removal. Golofast says he plans to leave Reebok, as a result.

Update: Golofast admits that the company’s new ad campaign was rushed to market without focus-group tests. He also told The Bell that he hired Marshenkulova to create advertisements that added some edginess and humor to Reebok’s global “Be More Human” campaign. When Marshenkulova said involving her Telegram channel would required working with its publisher, the media company “Mamikhlapinatana,” Reebok decided to sign a turnkey contract with the firm.