DMB&B fights in Russian court to show P&G sanpro ad

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MOSCOW--The Russian office of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles took part in what is thought to be the country's first litigation involving the right to advertise. DMB&B sought to protect the advertising of sanpro products on television. The litigation ended unexpectedly after the plaintiff withdrew her application and left the courtroom.

Russian media and advertisers have recently come under pressure from "public morality" activists. Russian President Boris Yeltsin recently vetoed a draft law proposed by the State Duma, the country's parliament, to set up a monitoring committee to regulate the content of the broadcast material to protect "public morals.''

The case began last autumn when a Russian female TV viewer asked the Moscow Court to ban the broadcast of sanitary protection ads. She claimed such ads harm public order and enrage Russian husbands, who eat their meals in front of the TV.

Initially, no sanpro brand name or agency was named in the application. The plaintiff at first blamed ORT, the country's biggest broadcaster, for the "immoral ads.'' She then widened the attack on ORT's sales house at the time, Premiers SV, and finally the Association of Advertisers of Russia.

It took the plaintiff several weeks to find ther name of the ad agency that created the ads for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Always brand.

It then fell to DMB&B to argue its case in the Moscow district Ostankino court before a grand jury.

The woman's case got off to a rocky start when it emerged that she didn't have a husband and wouldn't say where she was employed.

In his speech to the jury, the DMB&B spokesman praised the quality of the product and argued that sanpro ads are aired in countries with even more conservative cultures than Russia. Following the spokesman's speech, the plaintiff withdrew her application and left the courtroom.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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