The Moscow Times reports that the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has opened investigations into several business for the “unlawful” use of English words in its advertising and signage:
The companies targeted include Yaposhka-City, which owns Yaposha, a chain of Japanese fast-food restaurants; Trade Retail, owner of Bogner sportswear store; and Potential, owner of Bar BQ Cafe, the Moscow branch of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said in a statement Monday.
Yaposha faces punishment over a banner reading “Happy New Menu,” which only had the last word — Menu — in Russian. Trade Retail’s English-language banner read “Bogner New Collection,” and Potential’s October advertisement for Bar BQ Cafe used the English word “Halloween.”
Federal law bans the use of foreign words in advertising. The companies face fines of 100,000 to 500,000 rubles ($3,250 to $16,250), a spokeswoman for the anti-monopoly service told The Moscow Times.
Like any modern metropolis, Moscow is of course covered with hundreds of business trotting out English slogans, along with Chinese, French, Italian or whatever else pleases the marketing sensibilities of a relatively globalized and affluent population. I don’t think we can expect these probes to go far, and does not look like a case of some new campaign to push back “cultural hegemony” of English or some other collision of semiotic politics – which must mean that a competitor or opponent of these business owners ordered this one up.
If they are going to use government offices to bludgeon, raid, and steal competing businesses, at least they could do so in a slightly less embarrassing fashion.