Russians use insane squirrel as mascot for anti-alcohol campaign

Trying to get Russians to stop drinking is one of the few things more doomed to failure than trying to get The Cubs to win the The World Series. Still, in both cases, you have to try – right? The Russians have purposefully turned this job over to one of the least appealing mascots ever – an insane squirrel with a terrifying case of mange. This is not as bizarre as it sounds. According to The Telegraph:

In Russian slang, delirium tremens, the moment of inebriation when people start to get the shakes and to hallucinate, is known as “belochka” or “a little squirrel.” The squirrel in the video, who is red-eyed and bedraggled, is therefore shown ranting, singing, and delivering a nonsensical monologue.

That’s kind of how I imagine Glenn Beck is when he first gets out of bed.

He talks about “chasing spiders up the walls” and finishes up by offering to kill his neighbour’s wife because she is “the devil.” “Are you a boozer?” the deranged squirrel asks in the finale. “Then I am coming around to your place.”

Just replace “spiders” with “Nazis” and “his Neighbor’s wife” with “Democrats,” and it’s practically a transcript of Mr. Beck’s show.

Demon squirrel wants you!

To say Russia has a severe problem with alcoholism is to dangerously understate the case

Alcohol is to Russians what coals are to Newcastle. Russians drink more than 32 pints of pure alcohol per capita per year, more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommended maximum. During the Cold War, the Soviet Army was constantly having to guard against its soldiers drinking the brake fluid from vehicles. In his great book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of The Soviet Empire, David Remnick expressed his total amazement at a Soviet general being sacked for drunkenness this way: “I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” At the start of World War I, Czar Nicholas threw a bone to the serfs and got rid of the government tax on vodka. This cut the government’s budget in half.

This ad campaign follows a decision to reduce the amount of alcohol permissible in motorists’ blood to 0 and the introduction of a minimum price for a half-litre bottle of vodka of 89 roubles ($2.80). To put the price issue into context consider that a Russian airline pilot has a net average monthly salary of $864 and a bus driver nets $242.

It also suggests the Russian economy is doing better. In November 2008 stockpiles of Russia’s national drink were six times higher at the start of the month than the same time a year ago because factories were producing vodka faster than they could sell it.


End times alert: Russians buying less vodka



As economic indicators go this is pretty much all four of the horsemen of the apocalypse and the opening of the Seventh Seal all in one:

The global financial crisis has grown so bad that Russians are cutting back on vodka. Stockpiles of Russia’s national drink were six times higher at the start of the month than the same time a year ago because factories are producing vodka faster than they can sell it.

Alcohol is to Russians what coals are to Newcastle. During the Cold War, the Soviet Army was constantly having to guard against its soldiers drinking the brake fluid from vehicles. As David Remnick puts it in the great Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of The Soviet Empire, ” I’m not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is to acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia.” The phrase “too much vodka in Russia” is like the phrase “Cubs win the World Series”: a linguistically logical construct with (until now) no chance of ever happening.

Marketers love putting booze into guns

Apparently the hot idea in niche alcohol sales is to put your product into a package that looks like a weapon of personal destruction.

The tequila company Hijos de Villa offers both a sidearm and a long-gun.

There’s also a choice vodka in two different iconic machine guns: The Tommy or the AK-47. Or it you want to better target your vodka, there’s also a Sniper version.

Sadly you have far fewer choices if you don’t drink the hard stuff. Wine drinkers are all liberals, right? So the best you can do is a bottle opener for your Beaujolais. And beer drinkers don’t even get that. Yep, despite its claims to be the Silver Bullet — there’s nothing from Coors (or any other brewer I could find) that had any trace of verisimilitude on the topic.

Of course you can put whatever substance you want in one of these flasks. You have a choice of one that looks like a pistol or looks like it saved you from a pistol. (If we ever become really good friends I’ll tell you the story of why I drove a bayonet through a silver flask.)

And fear not if your taste for mood altering substances run to something less potable:

Absolut apologizes for ads but I have no idea why

So Absolut is apologizing to US consumers for an ad that most of them have never seen. The ad that in Mexico and shows a map of the Americas with the parts of the US that once were part of Mexico as STILL a part of Mexico.

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states.

Apparently, some people at conservative columnist Michelle Malkin’s web site posted angry comments about this and called for a boycott. (Michelle Malkin fans angry? Who’da thunk it?*) As a result Absolut apologized for the ads after they stopped running.

This is dumb for a number of reasons.

  1. Absolut has been absolutely fearless (by corporate standards) in its willingness to be identified supporting gay men and lesbians. If that’s part of your brand you don’t dump it just because of some whiny Wingnuts.
  2. This is one where you don’t have to apologize, just say look they’re not running anymore. You say it’s over and then ignore it. Apologizing just puts fuel on this fire.
  3. Name me a boycott that has worked in the last 20 years. Name me one that has even actually generated any sustained PR problem.
  4. This apology sure isn’t going to go down well among Mexican consumers. As a matter of fact if I were a citizen of Mexico (Motto: “Too far from heaven, too close to the US”), I would see this as another example of someone ignoring my interests as a result of US bullying.

Y’know even cynical little me was surprised to find out exactly how insecure some of my fellow Americans are. Let’s here it for the USA (Motto: We Can’t Take A Joke).

*I am not going to say that either the Wingnuts or the Crybabies have better or worse columnists, but I will say that the Wingnuts seem to have a monopoly on the truly entertaining crazy women columnists.

Sex, booze and Jay McInerney … well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad

What could possibly improve booze and sex? Well, if you said “literature” instead of “mutual consent” or “birth control,” then boy, do I have a marketing campaign for you. The makers of tarted-up distilled-potato-juice Svedka have gotten in to bed with the producers of the intellectually tarted-up porn site for a summer fling. The result is a book, 2033: The Future of Misbehavior: Interplanetary Dating, Madame President, Socialized Plastic Surgery, and Other Good News from the Future. Two colons in one title? Let’s add one more – “: Soon To Be Remaindered.” To quote the press release: “The celebrated work of literature will highlight how adults entertain themselves in the year 2033.” The book is alleged to contain work by “the brightest minds in writing today.” brightlightsOddly, this list includes novelist Jay McInerney* who, last I checked, was one of the brightest minds in writing 20 years ago. In addition to the book there is a Web site for Svedka. There you can download ads featuring a “sexy fembot” named “Svedka Girl.” She looks on as coyly as a robot can next to the copy that reads, “I go both ways. Straight up or on the rocks.” The site also features a lot of party pictures of people you’ve never heard of. The campaign claims that all this is “the future of adult entertainment.” Sadly, they might be right.

(NB: I still think Bright Lights is a really, really funny book. Except for the ending. That’s just lame. Kind of like “Stripes.”)

Taking road rage to a whole new level: The AK-47 car

Kalashnikov may be the most elastic brand on the planet this side of Hello Kitty. In addition to being on what is widely considered to be the most reliable (and widely used) combat weapon in the world, it is also a brand of umbrellas, snow boards, energy drinks, knives, watches and vodka. Now it is to be a car.

Russia's biggest carmaker plans to make a high-tech version of the Soviet-era Lada car that will be named after the creator of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, the Vedomosti business daily said. "We will probably work… to create a military jeep," said the head of arms trader Rosoboronexport, Sergei Chemezov.

Adding cars and vodka to the mix of products with his name on them will certainly add to the number of people who have died from products with Mikhail Kalashnikov's name on them. The 86-year-old Kalashnikov is currently No. 2 on the lethal Russians list, well behind all-time champ Joe Stalin. While analysts applauded Mr. Kalashnikov's efforts to increase his total they say he is unlikely to catch up with Uncle Joe any time soon.


In spring young inventors turn to thoughts of flowers

So the latest in plant care: Booze and cellphones. No, you don't give the plants a cellphone and then call to talk to them, although you would need plenty of alcohol to have that make sense. First you plant your cellphone. While that is never a bad, if you wanted it to flower then you would use a new biodegradable case invented by a gent in the UK.

"Basically it's a biodegradable phone cover that has an encapsulated seed so when the phone is finished with you can take it off, plant the phone cover in the ground and basically it will biodegrade and you will get a sunflower, creator Peter Morris said.

So soon your Motorola could literally be pushing up daisies. Once it is what you want to do is get the daisy drunk. Not so you can take advantage of it you sick, sad, twisted little man. No, because a Cornell University horticulturist has discovered that plying potted plants with diluted alcohol — he apparently suggests whiskey, vodka, gin or tequila — stunts the growth of the stem but does not affect the blossoms. Ahem. That's not the only stem whose growth it stunts. Ahem. William Miller, director of Cornell's Flower Bulb Research Program says that as a result, the houseplant does not get so tall that it flops over. However, if the gardener is doing shots with his/her flora then he/she probably will flop over. Make it one for my daisy … and one more for the road.