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Commerce Advertising in Ukraine: How the Ads Industry Has Changed in 30 Yearsby@strateh76
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Commerce Advertising in Ukraine: How the Ads Industry Has Changed in 30 Years

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Since the declaration of Independence of Ukraine in 1991, a great wave of advertising has flooded the TV screens. Back then, no one held high standards because they simply did not exist. Commercials came out bright, funny, and sometimes even strange. Let's take a closer look at how Ukrainian commerce advertising has changed for over 30 years.
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Since the declaration of Independence of Ukraine in 1991, a great wave of advertising has flooded the TV screens. And back then, no one held high standards because they simply did not exist. Commercials came out bright, funny, and sometimes even strange. Today's videos are becoming more innovative and well thought out in detail. Let's take a closer look at how Ukrainian commerce advertising has changed for over 30 years.


The formation of the advertising business in Ukraine was quite chaotic because, since the advent of Independence, the media system has been somewhat imperfect. There was no clear structure of the advertising business, a lack of specialists in advertising, and weak links with the global advertising market.


The main problem of the emerging market was the total lack of goods and services and, consequently, the lack of competition, which hampered the development of any rules and ethical standards of advertising.


If you want to get to know more about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, watch films from my article 10 Films About the War in Ukraine.

Cult 90s in commercial advertising in Ukraine


Since we did not have our advertising traditions at the time, the 90s became a period for Ukraine when Western values and traditions in advertising were the only models for us. As a result, in the 90s, the backbone of the Ukrainian advertising space was formed by foreign-made products. However, then the list of products was not as wide as we are observing now.


Mostly candy, chewing gum, and various drinks were advertised. Among the most popular were Zuko, Invite, and Yupi sweet drink powders and Gallina Blanca and Maggi broth cubes, which were auxiliary condiments in the '90s when there was no money for real meat. For example, Gallina Blanca commercials had weird songs.


At that time, the advertising market was so empty that there was no need to create special creativity. Foreign companies did not even try to adapt their ads to the mentality of the Ukrainian consumer. Commercials were simply translated, remaining incomprehensible, bright, and funny.



Domestic consumers were unprepared for the flow of advertising information. Consequently, they had no expectations about the quality of advertising. Therefore, almost any advertising was perceived surprisingly positively and produced the necessary wow effect.


Often the supply did not meet the demand, so many products did not even need advertising because they immediately bought up.


Newspapers and outdoor advertising were the main platforms for placing ads. And only after that advertising appeared on television.


A wide entrance of foreign manufacturers to the Ukrainian product market led to the appearance of network advertising agencies, such as Leo Burnet, BBDO, and DDB. They had partnerships with such marketing giants as Philip Morris, Pepsi Co., and McDonald's.


The 1997 year


However, advertising activities were still limited by a few regulations, which had many gaps in legal regulation. Given this, advertisers did not need to disguise the content of their ads (for example, in alcohol advertising) and adhere to the current prohibitions.


Smirnoff vodka commercials in the 90s


To eliminate these shortcomings, the Law of Ukraine "On Advertising" was adopted in 1996. It comprehensively defined the policy of state regulation of advertising.


Approximately until 2000, the process of advertising market formation based on developed documents and increasing additional regulatory framework was going. Non-profit organizations, such as the "Union of Advertisers of Ukraine", which in 1999 approved the "Rules of Professional Ethics in Advertising", began to appear.


Advertising during this period took on new features, and advertisers began to present it as brand advertising rather than naked goods.


Advertising for Vdala vodka in 2002


Below is a prime example of foreign commerce ads on Ukrainian television. It has a wacky superhero in a blue suit who cheerfully stretches himself to gigantic proportions to a cheerful tune.

The "orange" stage in Ukrainian advertising

In 2004, the Orange Revolution started in Ukraine, marking a new turn in the political sphere and socio-political advertising. The famous slogan "Yes!" of the Orange political forces' supporters was used as a campaign slogan and became a popular meme.



According to the VRK (All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition), the total volume of the advertising market in 2005 amounted to $835 million (about ₴4,175 billion), including in media - $511,5 million (₴2,5 billion).


Despite the annual rise in the price of television advertising, this media remains the most popular. Therefore, a significant part of the advertising budget in 2006 was spent precisely on TV ads.


In 2009-2010, the Ukrainian economy was in crisis, reflected in the advertising market. It fell to ₴8,871 billion, 24% less than in 2008.


The period from 2011 to 2013 was generally positive for the advertising sector because the economy was gradually recovering, stabilizing the Ukrainian advertising market. In 2012, a law known as the "law banning cigarette advertising" was passed during this period.


However, already in 2013, there was a decrease in the market by $3 billion (₴11,367).


This is an advertisement for the opposition party during Orange Revolution.

Commerce ads in Ukraine between the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity

This ad of the Tide washing powder has become a meme.


Mentos commercials where the crazy sheep were running around on lawnmowers were funny.


In 2012, Old Spice created an explosive mix of madness and light eroticism.


In the advertising video of the male deodorant, a handsome man in the image of Isaiah Mustafa showed a firm body and fulfilled all the most daring desires. The essence of the video was that the hero had to become the object of women's fantasies, and this fantasy should smell of Old Spice.


Subsequently, Terry Crews was invited to this role, who, in addition to a beautiful body, added to the commercials a touch of madness, which amused and surprised the audience simultaneously.


The commercials brought the company worldwide fame.


Every Ukrainian family knows Zhivchik drink - cartoon characters Zhivchik, Limonchik, and Grushka have become real friends of children. However, for parents, this drink was exclusively a children's drink, so in 2008 the company decided to shift the focus from children to the family.


The video's main idea is that "Zhivchik" makes the family happy and that in a happy family, they drink "Zhivchik".


In 2013, the company changed the slogan to "Savor with Benefits".


Advertising crisis after the Revolution of Dignity


In 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity and the outbreak of war in eastern Ukraine by Russia, the political and economic crisis led to a decline in the Ukrainian advertising market. Clients' marketing budgets decreased due to currency fluctuations, and the population's purchasing power decreased. In addition, sales dropped sharply in the eastern regions of Ukraine.


According to the results of the VRK, in 2014, the advertising media market of Ukraine lost about 1/5 of its volume in hryvnias during the previous year. However, despite the gloomy forecasts, further deterioration of the situation was avoided.


Here is an example of the ad of that time.


In the video from the juice producer "Sadochok" we see a touching story of the friendship between a grandfather and his grandson, which unfolds in a real apple orchard. The little boy can not tear himself away from the screen of his smartphone, timidly looking at the white-haired man. However, the grandfather stubbornly decided to find a common language with his grandson with the help of a small hedgehog.


By the way, the company also used the hedgehog idea in its previous commercials.

The boom of new media in the Ukrainian advertising industry


Despite the decline of external and television advertising in Ukraine, a surge of interest in new media like video blogs and social networks has leveled the situation.


According to the Ukrainian Internet Association (UIA), the volume of the Ukrainian Internet media advertising market in 2015 grew to ₴1,288 billion, which was 27% higher than in 2014. Since then, the Ukrainian advertising and communication industry has shown positive dynamics.


The press release of the Ukrainian Internet Association (UIA) states that in 2017 the volume of the Ukrainian Internet media advertising market amounted to ₴2.51 billion, which is 40% higher than the same figure in 2016. It showed significantly higher growth dynamics compared to other segments of the Ukrainian media market.

Digitalization is a new trend in Ukrainian advertising

In 2019 the advertising market in Ukraine was actively expanding by segments, showing a growth of 10%. And the dominant engine of advertising then and now is exactly the videos. It is not surprising because watching new videos on smartphones and video blogs has become almost the main activity among young people.


According to the research center WARC, in 2019 in Ukraine, online advertising was ahead of television by 74%. However, it is worth noting that television also showed a positive trend compared to 2018.


Below I gathered the most successful Ukrainian e-commerce ads, which pleased even those who never used the products and brands in question.


The idea to make an animated commercial for DoDo Socks belongs to director Roman Dzvonkovskyj. It is a funny video with bright socks from a Ukrainian brand, which dance to colorful Mexican motifs. As a result, this ad brings a smile and charge a positive mood for the whole day.


It is a powerful video from Banda Agency to promote the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which effectively conveys the image of the Ukrainian military, which absorbed the experience, values, and professions of different people. The video delivers a simple yet profound message - no one is born for war, but each of us can help protect our freedom.


The global trend of women accepting their bodies "as nature intended" has become an effective tool for many successful marketing strategies. A series of videos with Ukrainian rap singer alyona alyona for Brabrabra is a call to hear your body and love yourself despite stereotypes.


Manufacturers and brands often turn to rappers and other performers to promote their products. After all, advertising integration in a music video or individual videos commissioned by an advertiser is no longer a novelty.


McDonald's Ukraine created an incredibly nostalgic video during its quarantine about how Ukrainians miss the way things used to be. All those empty city streets, the distance, and the isolation are boring. People want to visit their favorite noisy places. That's okay, though, because the windows are always open for you at McDonald's.


2020 Effie Awards Grand Prix and the most effective advertising campaign title went to Monobank. The idea of the video belongs to Monobank, which created it according to the classic principle "Seven woes - one answer".


The original series of humorous videos really whet your appetite. In 2015, the commercial starred the popular comic character Mr. Bean, turning the commercial into a little comedy, and the phrase "You're not you when you're hungry" became extremely popular.

Ukrainian advertising after the full-scale Russian invasion


According to All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition (VRK), due to the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian advertising media market lost ₴20.8 billion. It is about two-thirds of its volume. At the end of 2021, the volume of the advertising media market in Ukraine amounted to ₴33.1 billion.


In particular, direct TV advertising in 2022 collapsed by almost 80% - up to ₴2.4 billion. At the same time, VRK predicts a 40% increase in the direct advertising market due to the return of major advertisers from FMCG, who almost completely left TV in 2021.


The advertising market in the press fell to 0 with the beginning of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, beginning in May, advertisers began to cautiously return, and over the summer, the volume of placements reached the level of 25-30% of the 2021 volume.


I do not want to cover examples of wartime advertising in Ukraine because the Russian invasion has radically changed the vector of this market.


Perhaps I will cover this topic in another article.


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