Gay-bashing, very nice: Classic anti-Soviet Wendy’s ad from 1985 (video)

Now that Russia is fully embracing gay-bashing (both legislative and literal) as a means of diverting public attention from what a disaster the country has become under Vladimir Putin, perhaps it’s time to revisit a classic Wendy’s TV commercial from the era.


I’m curious whether younger people today have any sense of just how nasty the Soviets really were.  Those of us who lived through the era – and visited Soviet Russia during some of its darker years – see what Russia is doing today to gay people, and it chills to the bone.

So, yeah, this Wendy’s ad, below, is petty.  But if Vladimir Putin wants to turn Russia back into the Soviet Union, then Russia will be treated like the Soviet Union.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Maybe it’s me, but it sure looks like the obnoxious fashion show announcer is supposed to be either transgender or lesbian. I think this was the homophobic founder’s way of casting anti-gay aspersions. Russians were not the only thing being ridiculed in this ad.

  • Jason Kirk Harder

    That’s why I upload these – glad you found it!

  • yep

  • UncleBucky

    Yeah, but I am saying that our mocking should be focused on the bad boys and girls rather than on anything Russian, y’know?

    I mean, I agree with you, but we should indicate in our mocking of Putin’s Russia that we don’t mean the victims. OK?


  • Ucccckkk! Gives new meaning to: “Sit on this.”

  • Sorry UB, look at those crowds of homophobic Russian people. If they put down those bottles of liquid potatoes and stop encouraging those primitive Rasputin priests , maybe they would be more reasonable. There is large support for gay genocide in Stalin’s old play ground. F*** the Russian people.

  • That must have been a sari lot.

  • At least the gunny sack was Hyacinth Blue, the accessories a minimalist chic, and the boots were very Macy’s counter girl 1980’s.

  • Is good no? Wake up Boris….Ok is good Natasha.

  • Brava! Yes!!

  • UncleBucky

    That’s right. This time, instead of making fun of the Russian people, we need to let the Russian government people walk all over their own moustaches.

  • UncleBucky

    Of course, when we did this, it was not just a joke, but a way of stereotyping the CCCP so that we can fight them. We didn’t care about the lady on the runway who had only one choice, and all we wanted to was to burlesque the heavy handed way of dealing with citizens.

    But now, we do know a lot of Russians. Yeah, a lot of them here who couldn’t make it there, and are not too nice here. Also, a lot of Russians there are no better, trying to get what they can. But we also know about LGBT Russians. Educated and serious Russians. Creative Russians. And truly entrepreneurial Russians who do good, not like the Russian Mafia.

    I think we have to make “Russia” like a troll on on a web site. Daylight them. Truth them. And don’t let them leave their lies about anything. Yeah, if Putin is going to be a creep, we have to call him on it.

    But there are real people there who, like in Belarus, North Korea, parts of the Middle East, parts of Africa, and parts of Asia, are going to suffer in the next generation where in other places of the world they would thrive.

    It’s a hard thing. But this time, unlike with the Wendy’s commercial, we have a better way to target our objections and to help those in distress.

  • Judge2be

    OMG! Thanks for the memories. Awesome. Boycott Russia? I meant Sowjet Yunyun?

  • Sweetie

    I tried to find one with Wendys but no one has made one of these with their burgers yet.

  • Alexandra_8

    But as anyone knows who has ever visited the countries of the former Soviet Union, we were subjected to our own propaganda here in the US. Those women are actually smoking hot.

  • irritatorofthepowerful

    Anti-Soviet, yes. Anti-gay, no. Anybody who lived through the Cold War should know that.

  • evodevo

    I always loved this commercial – so Sovietsky !

  • richardgrabman

    I worked with an Indian programmer whose family business was providing fashion clothing to the Soviets. He loved this ad.

  • Max_1

    ^^^ That ^^^

  • :-)

  • samizdat

    “Ees eevening vear.” Love that. Believe it or not, I was thinking much the same thing as nicho, in that it seemed that the depiction of Russian women was decidedly less than favorable. Which I knew to be untrue, as I had taken a class in Russian the boys Catholic HS freshman year, so I was by that time pretty much aware that Russian girls and women were every bit the same as any other women anywhere. Beautiful to homely, and everything in between.

    Putin’s just an insecure bully, and a political opportunist, kind of like Drone-bama, but more brutal and tactless.

  • Have you seen their more recent ‘Pantomime Burger King’ though? Talk about stalker-creepy.

  • MM

    Nice tie in, back then Wendy’s was run by it’s homophobic founder

  • yankeedoodle

    I was in the Army and stationed in Italy when that commercial was broadcast. I saw it on Italian television as part of an RTI news report. Apparently the Soviets were pretty pissed off about that commercial and lodged some kind of diplomatic protest. The news segment only showed the fashion show part and edited out the Wendy’s stuff, so I never knew it was a Wendy’s commercial until today. Anyway, making fun of the Soviets was staple stuff on European nightly news back then, and the Soviets gave them plenty of material.

  • Phil

    Clearly the result of what was happening in their earlier logo’s – someone was sitting on the burgers.

  • keirmeister

    Wow, take me back. That commercial started the whole “very nice!” trend for awhile. Yakov Smirnoff…are you there?

  • nicho

    My complaint with the ad is that is was mocking the people and not the government. They reinforced the stereotype that all Russian women are fat and ugly.

  • I know. But that’s in part because no longer fully remember how bad they were.

  • Sweetie

    I like how they talk about the freshness of the burger’s ingredients when it’s made with artificial props.

    An unwitting bit of ironic satire.

  • Jim Olson

    Wow. Flashback city. I was in high school in ’85 and stuff from that era just looks so outmode.

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