Culture

Sneaky Billboard Disappears in the Presence of Russian Authorities

by Rafi Schwartz

June 1, 2015
image via youtube screen capture

Ordinarily, advertisements are designed to capture the attention of as many people as humanly possible. In a particularly Yakov Smirnov-ian turn, however, one high-tech Russian billboard is bucking convention by actively removing itself from sight in the presence of anyone from that country’s police or military.

image via youtube screen capture

The ad, reports PSFK, was commissioned by Moscow grocer and deli owner Don Guilio, whose shop specializes in authentic Italian foods. Unfortunately, Russia has placed an embargo on foods coming from both the United States and the European Union—including Italy—in response to sanctions by Western countries against Russia resulting from their military actions in Ukraine last year. That places much of Don Guilio’s Italian eats in questionable legal status.

To capitalize upon his deli’s semi-outlaw wares, Don Guilio purchased the small billboard on a busy Moscow street, just a few blocks away from Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. While the ad typically hocks the deli’s “forbidden Italian delicacies,” it’s also outfitted with pattern recognition software that instantly transforms the billboard into a mundane sign for matryoshka dolls the moment it picks up on army or police uniforms. 

Of course, it seems unlikely that this is really designed to “hide” products from the authorities in any meaningful way. Still, it’s an ingenious way to sell some delicious meats and cheeses, while calling attention to the very real effects Russia’s food embargo is having on local businesses. 

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Sneaky Billboard Disappears in the Presence of Russian Authorities