Leading advertising agency M&C Saatchi NY hired a Vladimir Putin impersonator to strip down to rainbow skivvies and accept the People’s Voice Award for Social Urban & City Innovation for #VirtualPride at the 18th Annual Webby Awards. It was announced Tuesday, May 20.
The Putin impersonator entered the stage in a tear-away suit, revealing a pair of Rainbow pride underwear, and delivering his 5-word Webby speech, “Vladimir say Pride is beautiful!” in his best Russian accent.
M&C Saatchi NY used its Webbys acceptance speech as another opportunity to steer attention to Russia, where LGBTQ events and public discussion were banned by the Russian Federal Assembly in late 2013.
The agency hired an impersonator of Vladimir Putin – the iconic leader of Russia and its anti-gay legislation – as the perfect ironic figure to accept the award.
#VirtualPride, created by M&C Saatchi NY in partnership with NYC Pride, used a custom-built geolocation app and Google Maps Street View to lead a live LGBTQ rights march through Moscow in exact step with the 2013 NYC Pride Parade, reaching over 5 million people in 94 countries around the world.
Hosted on the website, the parade aggregated tweets of support with the hashtag #VirtualPride.
Those who tweeted appeared as virtual spectators with their messages posted along the route’s sidelines, which were painted with rainbows and symbols of Pride, ensuring the streets of Moscow were as packed as those in NYC.
According to M&C Saatchi, more than two million users voted for the The Webbys People’s Voice Awards, and #VirtualPride was also selected as an Official Honoree in the Public Service & Activism category.
The 2014 Webby Awards Ceremony took place on Monday, May 19, in New York.
The 18th Annual Webby Awards received 12,000 entries from over 60 countries worldwide. The Webby Awards are awarded in over 100 categories and over 2 million people voted for the People’s Voice award.
M&C Saatchi New York is the recent addition to the world’s leading independent agency network, which was created 18 years ago. Launched in 2013, the NY office is currently 40+ people with capabilities spanning brand strategy, advertising, social and mobile media.
About Gay Rights in Russia
In June 2012, Moscow courts enacted a hundred-year ban on gay pride parades (until 2112). In May 2013 the courts upheld the ban, saying that parades could “undermine a campaign to instill patriotic values in the city’s youths.” The decision was issued just days after a 23-year-old man was killed in a savage homophobic attack in the city of Volgograd in southern Russia.
Later in 2013, Russia’s Parliament voted 436-0 (with one abstention) to pass a law that bans LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning) events or public discussion and prohibits individuals from providing information and / or educational materials to minors about homosexuality.
These acts have been condemned by a number of human rights groups across the world, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, according to M&C Saatchi NY.