Interview with Soviet-era TV ad director Harry Egipt: erotic ice cream and nightmare chicken

The weirdo Soviet-era television ads directed by Harry Egipt are the stuff of internet legend, and we've blogged about them here on Boing Boing many times over many years. His 30-second meditation on ground chicken meat is a surrealist vegetarian nightmare that pre-dates "pink slime" hysteria by half a century; his lightly erotic ice cream ads are stil creamily creepy. How wonderful that Dangerous Minds has tracked down the director himself, for an interview.

Given that the USSR didn't have a consumer-oriented market, what was the point, they ask? Egipt replies:

During Soviet times advertising had an entirely different purpose than it would have today. For example, it shows the absurdity of Soviet planned economy that the commercials produced by a state-funded agency were sometimes prevented from even being screened. The primary purpose of advertising was not to encourage people to consume, it was not to market a product or service, but rather to inform and educate people and shape their views on society in general as opposed to finding a market for a particular product. Advertisements were targeted at a wider audience, not at a specific group of consumers.

Soviet ads were absurdly twisted in the context of contemporary advertising compared to their capitalist counterparts. Selling a product was not as important as the entertainment value, thus making the ads themselves the product to be consumed. Products often vanished from the shelves without need for any advertising but ads were produced nonetheless. At other times an ad would be produced in hopes that, at the time of airing, a product would be available for sale. Quite often adverts provided a financial basis to make television programs – with less bureaucracy and more creative freedom. To this end my adverts possessed an artistic value and looked like music videos.



  1. I remember the TV not having any advertisements at all. Then when they first started showing them they’d show them back to back for 30 minutes straight on one channel. That, thankfully, didn’t last long.

  2. For extra audio fun open a 2nd window for the chicken ad and play two of it at the same time.

  3. Judging by this and Winny Puhh, it seems that Estonia really hails as a land of bizarro.

  4. Kana, Kana — the music production reminded me of something. Maybe Throbbing Gristle or PTV? And not because of any perceived “Hamburger Lady” parallels, although there is that.

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