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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Summer, New Year's Doldrums Pace Ad Trade

To everything there is a season. A time to be born, a time to die -- and a time to pull out the stops and advertise ice-cold soft drinks.

As in the rest of the world, Russia's advertising cycles take on a distinctly seasonal nature. Product marketing efforts tend to be the highest in the spring and fall, although pitches for specialized products -- soft drinks in the summer, for example, and alcohol in the winter -- take up some of the slack during the lean seasons.

Those in the advertising trade consider the first few weeks after New Year's -- when consumers are heading out on mid-winter vacations or else entrenching themselves in their homes and recovering from holiday spending -- as the "dead season," the worst time of the year for advertising.

During this seasonal lull, most companies use only about 20 percent of their average monthly advertising budgets. Their primary concern is to maintain a baseline public presence and avoid disappearing altogether from public view, according to Vladimir Yevstafyev, president of the Russian Association of Advertising Agencies.

According to the Russian Public Relations Group, or RPRG, in January 1996 only 12,302 commercials were aired on Russia's larger television channels. Only a month earlier, in December 1995, those stations broadcast 26,792 commercials; in October, they broadcast 20,302 commercials and in March, 22,527.

A similar pattern emerges in print media advertising. The Mobile agency, which monitors advertising in Russia's 50 largest publications, reports that in January those publications carried 9,969 ads, down from 20,546 in December 1995. Print advertising crested in the fall, with 21,738 ads in October, and in the spring, with 15,458 ads in March.

Second to January as a period of advertising down-time is July and August, when a significant portion of the population departs for vacation.

The months of March and October are considered the most effective times of the year for advertising, a time when Russian consumers have managed to squirrel away some money after recovering from the costs of summer vacations and New Year's gift purchases. During these seasons, they begin to consider fulfilling more modest dreams such as purchasing televisions or clothing.

However, these peak seasons do not apply to all advertisers. Quite naturally, the most intensive advertising time for summer goods is during the months of June through August.

As Pepsi-Cola marketing Manager Lyubov Galkina explains, mass advertising for carbonated beverages begins in March and April and continues throughout the summer.

Travel agencies also launch their attacks during the period from June through August. Moskva-Tur, for example, spends two-thirds of its advertising budget during the summer and at the end of winter, according to Tatyana Osadchaya, the firm's advertising manager.

And when ads for colas and exotic vacations wane from television screens, spots for chocolates and candy bars -- which analysts consider "winter goods" -- pick up the slack.

Most businesses' marketing departments determine their advertising activities according to seasonal trends. Nina Prasolova, public relations director at Merloni Elettromestici, said that in the winter and spring her company directs its advertising energies toward selling refrigerators, gas stoves and washing machines. She adds that consumer demand in the fall turns to the likes of juicers and other small kitchen wares used in food-storage preparation as winter approaches.

In some markets, advertising actually increases during the dead seasons. Advertising for audio and video equipment in June 1996 was up 10 percent over April rates, said Svetlana Filippova, the ad monitoring manager at Mobile.

In other markets, advertisers pay little heed to seasonal advertising trends. Big producers of chewing gum and cosmetics have advertising budgets large enough to maintain a steady campaign throughout the year.

A Proctor & Gamble representative, who asked that his name not be used, said seasonal factors have little influence on his company's sales volumes.

The same holds true for several chewing gum makers, including Wrigley's. Konstantin Kusmin, marketing director at Wrigley's, says the number of ads and commercials his company buys bears nearly no relation to seasonal factors.