Why are Russians angry about a delivery service ad?

From left to right: Abdisattar the literature teacher, Natalia the reporter and Andrei the Merited Artist who 'will deliver your orders', as Deliver Club says.

From left to right: Abdisattar the literature teacher, Natalia the reporter and Andrei the Merited Artist who 'will deliver your orders', as Deliver Club says.

Delivery Club
Delivery Club, one of Russia’s biggest food delivery services, made a social ad showing the personalities of its couriers – but many people were enraged.

Unusual adverts filled Moscow on March 16, appearing across the subway and outdoor billboards. They were telling the stories of six people: a reporter, a literature teacher, a mountaineer, a football fan, a linguist and a Merited Artist [of the Russian Federation]. Each of them works as a courier at Delivery Club, one of two of the biggest Russian companies in the food delivery sector.

“Your order will be delivered by a literature teacher,” states one of the ads, showing Abdisattar, a middle-aged man with Central Asian looks. “Abdisattar is keen on mountain tourism and a father of three.” All the other ads were made in the same pattern: the name of the ‘hero’ and several personal facts. Intentions seemed to be good however the effect this advertisement had was controversial at best.

Getting closer to people

Abdisattar, with his Central-Asian looks and higher education, attracted lots of public attention - people pity the fact that a teacher has to work as a courier.

“This time we’re not advertising Delivery Club, we’re advertising the [courier’s] job,” stated Anastasia Zhbanova, Director of Product Communications and Media Partners at Mail.ru Group (which owns Delivery Club).

“We chose six different couriers and tried to show them as regular people with hobbies and talents, not just faceless employees. Some of them used to work in multiple fields – or are working in them now. Respect couriers, they are really nice people!” Zhbanova explained further. She emphasized that all six people who took part in the campaign were not actors, but actual couriers.

‘Absolutely sad’

Judging by the reaction on social media, a great number of people were not happy with the ad campaign – they found it humiliating for people who have to work as couriers to provide for themselves. Critics considered the tone of the campaign too positive, as well as ignorant of the serious issues of underpaid humanitarian specialties and migrants who can be hired only to minor positions, no matter how well-educated they are.

“Am I the only one who feels sad about multi-professional people who have no choice but to become couriers just to survive somehow?”

“Meanwhile, Delivery Club’s advert is hitting rock bottom. You could have thought about the reasons why a literature teacher has to work as a courier, but who needs thinking while you are making a campaign?”

“This ad is plain disgusting. Its point is in a smug Muscovite feeling superior over migrants. ‘Wow, some Tajik with higher education bringing food to my office! Here, have your ruble, teacher Abdisattar’,” Viktor Volkov wrote on Facebook, commenting on Zhdanova’s post.

The other side

Olga, a mountaineer, will also deliver your order, according to Delivery Club.

Several people, however, found Delivery Club’s campaign less offensive.

“I think the message is not about humiliation or racism. [The message is:] Although these people work as couriers, they have different hobbies, higher education, families… And people only see what they want to see.”

“I guess they’re trying to say that he [Abdisattar] is also a human being, with his interests, life and profession. Of course, the ad is sad – it’s easier to believe that only lowlifes work in delivery. But this man is working to provide for himself.”

Delivery Club officials also emphasized that they will keep on working to de-stigmatize courier jobs as underpaid, exhausting and unimportant. “Reactions we see, unfortunately, reflect the stereotypes of a courier’s job… Their work is hard and important, it shouldn’t be devalued,” their press-service told Govorit Moskva radio station.

Fake or real?

A new scandal erupted when people found out that the ‘couriers’ in the ads may not actually be employees of Delivery Club. At least one of six ‘heroes’, Natalia, “was a reporter, who had been working on federal TV for seven years.” She even posted a photo of her portrayed in the campaign on her Instagram page.

It doesn’t seem that Natalia actually works as a courier – her friend asked what it was all about and she replied: “Well, you don’t ask a Russian pop-star filming in ads if she really uses Always [sanitary napkins] she’s advertising!” In her bio, she doesn’t mention working for any delivery job – only as a journalist.

At the same time, Anastasia Zhdanova confirmed that Natalya actually works for Delivery Club. She has her own schedule and a work agreement. In an interview with Inc. Russia publication Natalya says she works at Delivery Club to make money as she’s fed up with media. “It’s a good choice and good money!” she claims.

“This whole story is fishy,” wrote Victor Kulganek, commenting on the post showing screenshots of Natalia’s page. That statement pretty much sums up the overall impression of the whole ad campaign debacle.

Irony

Of course, lots of people simply joked about the whole situation, mocking useless jobs and the controversy of the campaign. Many also trolled the slogan “Your order will be delivered…”

“Your order will be delivered by Delivery Club’s former marketer.”

“Your order will be delivered by a former cryptocurrency investor.”

Your order will be delivered by Queen Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Lady of Dragonstone, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.”

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