Advertising is a pivotal part of modern life. It reflects socio-economic developments and cultural phenomena, it shapes our lifestyle and our everyday culture. Advertising shapes dynamic processes like inclusion and exclusion of social groups in the view of social, gender-specific as well as ethnic and religious inequalities.
From 1870 to 1914, advertising made a significant contribution to the formation of consumer culture by enabling consumers to use new, often foreign goods and to experience and shape modernity in this way.
By the power of advertising, imported as well as domestic material and cultural goods were transported from one place to another, often from distant producers to ever new consumers. As a vital part of consumer policy and practice, advertising acted as a vehicle and agent of cultural transfer, as it took place in the context of economic and cultural exchange across national borders as well as in local exchanges. In the multi-ethnic Russian Empire, advertising seems to have become an instrument of intercultural and interethnic communication beyond its strategic economic function, as well as a motor of national modernization in the economic realm, but also in medicine, social affairs and culture.
Focusing on the German and Russian-German advertising in the Russian Empire, this project analyzes both as a hinge for the cultural transfer and modernization processes, as well as a medium of interethnic and cross-border communication. This approach is mainly due to the unique position and the economic contribution of German entrepreneurship in the Russian Empire compared to other non-Russian representatives of other nationalities. This case study builds up on the assumption that German-speaking advertising and advertising for German goods and services asides their economic value also did convey a specific consumer-culture and cultural identification. With regard to Russian-German entrepreneurship, I ask to what extent the German minority in the empire could be seen as intermediaries, mediators or lobbyists of German goods and cultural values.