Is there a place for commercial art in a "classic" Socialist society?
The obvious answer is "no". Everything's nationalized, planned and centralized, thus eliminating competition between manufacturers, services and brands. So what's left to advertise? But this answer is obvious only to those who do not understand the needs of such society and its rulers. There's still a need to promote important, although not compulsory, initiatives like investment into government bonds* :
In brief, Socialist advertising is (or, better to say, was) used for urging comsumer to part with his/her money. Besides, in 1920s, behind countless red banners and revolutionary slogans, there were mixed economics with different forms of ownership, from private to joint ventures with foreign capital, state-owned and publicly owned in between. Some of the ads looked like as if Great War and Revolution never happened:
There was competition in 1920s: state department stores vs. private commerce, state- and co-operative groceries vs. marketplace, domestic production vs. imports, etc. The most famous Soviet grocery of the period was the Mosselprom (see the headline picture) which hired two giants of Avant-garde, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Alexander Rodchenko, for its campaign. Mayakovsky coined the slogan: "Nowhere but in Mosselprom!". Some ads (by other artists) were less Avant-garde but more informative:
By the way, the Mosselprom Building still exists.
The largest department store, GUM (in the Red Square, just opposite the Kremlin), also launched a campaign aimed at the visitors arriving to the Red Capital:
Another campaign was launched by the TZh, a state-owned holding which produced perfumes and toiletry:
There's more in our album (38 images with comments). Browse it or enjoy the slideshow:
Next week, Captain Cigar will take you to 1930s.
* Sorry, this poster is of 1955 vintage, the one and only anachronism here; mysteriously, nothing from 1920s or even 1930s in our Soviet Bonds Department.