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Michael Jackson & Pepsi on Soviet TV

May 5, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Soviet viewers will see pop superstar Michael Jackson in two ads for Pepsi Cola, the first advertiser to buy commercial time on Soviet television.

Jackson will sing and dance to his hit ″Bad,″ but he won’t be dubbed into Russian. Only the company’s ″Choice of a New Generation″ slogan and its logo will appear in the Cyrillic alphabet.

The ads are to appear on the broadcast of ″Pozner in America,″ a joint U.S.-Soviet production featuring Soviet commentator Vladimir Pozner talking with Americans on topics such as attitudes toward the Soviet Union and American family life.

Among the six commercials Pepsi plans to run are two 60-second spots featuring Jackson, the soft drink maker said Wednesday. Another will show two astronauts floating through space after their bottle of Pepsi. All six ads have been shown on U.S. television.

The five 1-hour Pozner programs are being broadcast May 17-21, in advance of the scheduled May 29 beginning of the Moscow summit between President Reagan and Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev has been encouraging foreign business to consider ventures in the Soviet Union.

Pepsi-Cola International, a Somers, N.Y.-based unit of Pepsico Inc., said it purchased five minutes of time on the Soviet Union’s main television channel. Pepsi said the ads will reach an audience of 150 million.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the American company that represented the Soviet broadcast agency Gosteleradio in the sale said previously the going rate was $10,000 for a 30-second ad.

Even as Pepsi was making its announcement in New York, Italian businessman Silvio Berlusconi told reporters in Rome that a subsidiary of his Fininvest Group had won rights to transmit Western advertisements on Soviet television.

″For the first time Soviet televison will systematically present Western advertising in its regular programming, and for the first time Western companies will be able to reach the 287 million people in the Soviet Union to promote their products,″ Berlusconi said at a news conference at the Foreign Press Association.

The three-year contract between the ad agency Pubitalia ’80 SpA and the Soviet state broadcast company was signed April 29 and begins Sept. 1, he said.

Barry Holt, a spokesman for Pepsi-Cola International, said Pepsi felt its purchase made it the first paid advertiser on Soviet television.

He said that commercials are scarce on Soviet television and that Pepsi had been told Soviet advertisers were not charged for running their commercials.

Pepsi has been selling soft drinks in Russia since 1974, and Holt said it has 20 bottlers there.

This would not be the first time Soviet television viewers have seen a Pepsi ad, however. Holt said a Pepsi ad ran free of charge on Soviet television during telecasts of the 1986 Goodwill Games.

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