“Daddy, I want parking!” says a blue-eyed, blonde puppet into her pink mobile phone, as she sits behind the wheel of her red, papier-mâché convertible. The camera then cuts to the oil fields of Aleppo, where a shirtless Vladimir Putin (also a puppet) is at work inside the cockpit of a tank, dodging explosions and shooting into the horizon. At first, Putin is reluctant to help his daughter. “I’m a little busy with the Islamic State,” the president says. Now he’s outside the tank and firing a pistol, but the voice on the other end of the phone is unrelenting.
He sighs, dives back into the tank, and then backs off screen. Next, Putin’s tank is steamrolling through the cars parked in front of the Kremlin, freeing up plenty of room for his daughter’s sportscar. The two then embrace, as the narrator tells us that the new Pango mobile app is just as effective in dealing with parking problems.
This is the plot of a commercial published on YouTube this Monday by the Israeli company Pango, whose mobile app allows users to pay for street parking electronically. The new ad campaign’s slogan? “We handle your needs just as well as Putin.”
The video, which is “unlisted” on YouTube (meaning visitors need to have the exact URL to watch it, and cannot find it through random browsing), has more than 75,000 views at the time of this writing.
A warning to Russian speakers: the video below contains obscene language.
Vladimir Putin is notoriously secretive about the lives of his two daughters. In January 2015, the RBC news agency published a report about development work underway to expand Moscow State University’s campus, focusing the public’s attention on Katerina Tikhonova, whose foundation was involved in the development work. Reuters later confirmed that Tikhonova is Putin’s younger daughter.
The report on one of Putin’s daughters, along with investigative journalism about the Russian Orthodox Church’s budget and the economy of the separatist government in Donetsk, eventually resulted in RBC’s chief editor, Elizaveta Osetinskaya, and many of her top team members being forced out of the company in May 2016.