A successful political campaign relies on memes that can capture the hearts and minds of the people and turn them into voters. Words like “hope,” “change,” and “poor people” work, but in Russia, where campaign season is in full swing ahead of elections on March 4, the memes are on another level entirely. Words aren’t necessary. Try tits and YouTube.
When it’s not inciting the largest anti-government protests the country has seen in decades and paying lip service to serious legal reform and authentic transparency, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party has tried to build its case among the working class with all sorts of next-level marketing tricks. The first in a string of brilliant pro-Putin campaign ads released last summer features an attractive young lady promoting the politically savvy act of ripping off her shirt to a group of her hot friends, because they would rip anything apart for their leading man. To encourage other young Russians to join in, she then announces an online contest and the grand prize of an iPad 2. With a dollop of sex, populism, and a bit of gadget lust, the ‘rip off your clothes for Putin’ meme was born.
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