Russia: it’s almost like a different country

Depending how lucky you get with your layover in Frankfurt, it’s a 14–17-hour trip from SFO to LED (the airport code for St. Petersburg is still based on the city’s Soviet name, Leningrad). So if I go on a bit much about my mid-April trip, maybe I’ve earned it. Anyway, a few things about Petersburg (as the natives call it) that you may not know:

It is customary, if not de rigeur, to take off your outside shoes when you visit someone’s house and switch to a pair of slippers, which any civilized host is expected to supply you. It is even customary when you go to someone’s house to change out of your outside shirt and pants and into, typically, a track suit. Something about the dirtiness of the air or slush outside? Maybe once upon a time. Petersburg certainly doesn’t seem particularly dirty today. In fact, it’s quite beautiful.

Front doors — for instance, from your apartment to the building’s hallway — are all doubled, as are windows. Of course, it’s an understandable accomodation to the butt-cold arctic winters in this largest northernmost city in Europe, and I suppose it works pretty well to conserve their irrepressible steam heat. But it means that, even on a nice spring day, every place you go is too freakin’ hot.

You don’t have to. I mean, maybe 10%, if you’re feeling generous, in a restaurant. Maybe. But it’s not expected. And in cabs or elsewhere, absolutely not. So though the city is very expensive — especially since W. drove our almighty dollar into the toilet (along with everything else) — that saves an assload of dough.

Unless you’re really into sausages and that kind of stuff, Russian food can be a little dull and even — when you get into all the blood-sausage stuff — a little gross. But that assumes you have to eat Russian food. It’s like England. Eat the immigrant/ethnic food, instead, and you’ll have a much better time. In England, of course, it’s Indian. In Russia, it’s stuff from Georgia, Uzbekistan and Armenia, all of which may be a little hard to distinguish, one from the next, because all of it is more or less what we think of as middle eastern(ish) — hummus, shishkebob, dolmas — and delicious.

You can get a better meal, later — much later — in St. Petersburg than in our own food-obsessed St. Francisburg. And you can get a drink all the way up till 6 am. And late restaurants and all-night bars — of all flavors and sizes — are pretty much everywhere. And even at 3 am, there’s plenty of peeps out on the street. And as long as you don’t pick a fight, it’s safe (in fact, it’s especially safe for women — my friend told me that rape is almost nonexistent in Petersburg because the men deeply respect the women. That is, until they marry them. Domestic violence is widespread).

Hold your hand down low to hail a “gypsy” cab, which is likely to just be a guy on his way home from work, rather than a pro. When he stops, you lean in and say, “I’ll give you X rubles to take me to the Hermitage,” and there’s a brief negotiation (everybody seems to know what the price is, approximately), and you jump in the front seat and you’re off. Almost nobody I saw held their hand up high to hail a regular taxi, which are typically twice as expensive. Likewise, there is a private network of minivans that shadows the city bus routes and offers the same destinations, for less. Petersburg also has a subway system. If not quite as opulent as Moscow’s, it’s still nice, with artwork and some chandeliers, not to mention it’s clean and safe and covers much of the city. In short, with its combo of private and public transit, this bustling city of 4.6 million moves its citizens around pretty damn efficiently.

Don’t drink it. Not even the locals do. Apparently, the pipes are so old in this 300-year-old town and were so neglected during the Soviet era, that you never quite know what’s gonna come out. Showers are OK– and I was also brushing my teeth with it (because have you ever tried to brush with bottled water?!?) — but nyet on the imbibing.

They’re a strange looking people.

Work + News

Croom talks director role with Adweek

DC is proud to announce Kumi Croom’s new role as DC’s first director of diversity and collaboration. Check out Kumi talking with Adweek about her goals and the progress she’s already helped to usher in.

Vaccination: our state’s best shot

As reported in AdAge and Adweek, DC was awarded the state’s $40 million campaign to bolster public confidence in Covid-19 vaccinations. And work is already underway on this critical effort.

Animating anti-smoking

The spots are animated. The struggle is real. True tales of former smokers on the perilous path to quitting.

InnovAsian: The Next Generation

DC is back with seconds of our award-winning, supply-chain-busting InnovAsian Occasion campaign now running on stations across the nation.

Kona Brewing

Not only did viewers rank the TV spots above those of market leaders Corona and Dos Equis, they gave them the third highest score for any alcohol-related ad that year. Which might be one good reason for a frothy 37% sales increase.

Beautyscape in the Bahamas

Created by DCLA for e.l.f., the fifth installment of the award-winning influencer program is now underway in the Bahamas. And garnering more heat than ever.

Two female presenting teens are at a table in a school library. One female with dark curly hair is sitting down with her back to the frame. The other is standing over the table with SweeTarts gummies in both hands and smiling.

SweeTARTS' Be Both is back

After the sweet success of last year’s 'Be Both' launch, SweeTARTS is doubling down on the campaign to Gen Z with brand new work in market now — and more to come in 2021.

CBS x Alfred Coffee · Emmy Awards

DCLA partnered CBS Studios with Alfred Coffee to reach Emmy voters and garner support for Star Trek: Picard. The timely work tapped into the diversity and inclusion central to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision.

Action shot of a pink nike shoe as it hits the concrete. The person wearing the shoe is running. A pink Rakuten logo appears above the shoe as if it popped out from her shoe indicating the runner is a Rakuten user.


Loyalty or discount program advertising often dwells in the downscale world of the coupon clipper — a turnoff to savvier online shoppers. Our strategy was to present Rakuten as every bit as premium as the brands it offered rebates on.


Even the mild-mannered have something inside that drives them wild. And thanks to StubHub that wild thing is busting out all over.

Gap · Dress Normal

Gap asked us to build consideration and generate trial for their newly launched “Dress Normal” brand platform. Thirty influential Instagram photogs helped us do just that.

This way to health insurance

Today marks the launch of our first campaign for Covered California as part of a five-year, $400-million effort to help all Californians get the health insurance they need.