The story behind the 1998 Mikhail Gorbachev Pizza Hut commercial
As tributes pour in for former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev following his death, social media users have been rediscovering the Pizza Hut ad he once starred in.
Pizza Hut first opened in Moscow in 1990 and was one of the first foreign restaurants in Russia, closely followed by McDonald’s. Some years later, after the demise of the Soviet Union, politician Mikhail Gorbachev was asked to front one of the chain’s first TV commercials in the country. In a bizarre twist, however, it was never broadcast in Russia.
Created by ad agency BBDO, the spot was filmed in November 1997 in Moscow and aired the following year. It features Gorbachev walking through the snowy streets with his granddaughter, Anastasia Virganskaya, with Saint Basil’s Cathedral visible in the background.
Entering a Pizza Hut to grab a bite to eat, another family enjoying their lunch notice the Russian politician and begin to bicker over the impact Gorbachev had on the nation.
The father argues: “Because of him we have economic confusion.” The son, meanwhile, protests: “Because of him, we have opportunity.” Finally, the mother interjects: “Because of him we have many things... like Pizza Hut.”
Famously, it was reported that Gorbachev received $1m for filming the ad, but refused to actually eat any of the pizza. It has been noted that the money was used to fund various research projects he was working on at the time.
It was not the only time the politician dabbled in commercial work. He was once shot by Annie Leibovitz for a Louis Vuitton print ad.