How tolerance became a hallmark of a progressive brand in Russia
Event: On June 30, the Vkusville health food supermarket chain posted an advertisement on its social media featuring the family of a lesbian couple. This caused a mixed reaction from society. Many customers encouraged a boycott of the brand’s stores. Later the company apologized for the ad, deleting the picture with the family and calling the picture a “mistake.” After that, an information attack began on VkusVill, launched by pro-Western instruments of influence, mostly by the liberal social and mass media, and, supported by a tolerant public. The”Vkusville” began to be claimed over with messages about homophobia.
The purpose of the action: promotion and protection of LGBT values in Russia, consolidation and further promotion of Overton Windows in this direction, through manipulative influence on society, through technology – the illusion of universal support for one of the basic tenets of the new ethics.
Tool: mass media, social media, human rights activists.
Method: Internet activism, flash mob.
Overton’s window (window of discourse) is the concept of the presence of a framework of the permissible range of opinions in public statements from the point of view of public morality. The axis of political discourse is the greater or lesser degree of freedom, which is associated with the degree of regulation of public institutions and state norms concerning certain issues. It is possible to make any, even the most unacceptable question not only normal in society but also popular and not even amenable to criticism by using the technology.
The situation with Vkusville revealed that the third Overton Window has already opened in Russia – it is acceptable.
Society reaction – LGBT “Overton’s Window”:
Thus, Vkusville’s apology was followed by a harsh reaction from liberal journalists and bloggers who began to write condemning articles and posts. For example, the Petersburg liberal activist, journalist Renat Davletgildeev wrote in an author’s column in the Snob edition: «You sincerely want to apologize to those toxic and angry users who wrote things like “this is not a real family,” or quoting the comments of those to whom you are apologizing “not for the life of me will I go to the same store these Inhumans go to” ?» They were majorly supported by Human Rights Watch, which also criticized the brand’s apology. This wave of angry criticism in social media and “independent” mass media received a public response among young people, who paste over the shops with slogans about homophobia and also record “funny vines” in defense of LGBT people. The intelligentsia and the “progressive” public are also joining their rows.
The resonant response of Russian supporters of liberal values, journalists, bloggers, and young people who shot numerous videos on social media. networks, widely relayed by international media.
Achievements: The scandalous story helped the architects of promoting LGBT values in the Russian Federation to record the opening of the third Overton Window in the country. VkusVill, a well-known and fashionable retail network in Russia. The brand has a reputation for being
particularly customer-centric, they scrutinize who their customers are. Therefore, this suggests that a trend of a tolerant attitude towards LGBT people has emerged in Russian society (in a certain segment). Based on these data, VkusVill tried to show its progressiveness by placing advertisements for products with a lesbian couple. This is the first time that a major Russian brand has openly expressed support for and advertised people with a homosexual orientation, moreover, having done that during the so-called “Pride Month”. Consequently, in Russian society, LGBT values have become acceptable. However, to fix it for good, a campaign of persecution of the brand for apologizing to the supporters of traditional values was implemented
The Russian public has entered the third window of manipulative technology – acceptably, having programmed the youth public opinion, who today are becoming the main lobbyists of LGBT values in Russia.