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Illegal Ads: How to Promote Goods with Constraints



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In our blog, we tell a lot about how to advertise different goods or what marketing channels in Russia are more effective. Today, we will turn our attention to one more very important issue—advertising goods with constraints.

It should be immediately noted that there are certain goods in Russia, just like in any other country of the world, which ads are prohibited for one or another reason, i.e. they must not be advertised in any way and manner. The goods that are not allowed for advertising in the Russian Federation are mentioned in the Federal Law ‘On Advertising’.

List of goods not allowed for advertising in the territory of Russia:

  • goods that are illegal (under the laws in place),
  • narcotic drugs and psycotropic substances,
  • explosives,
  • human organs and tissues,
  • goods that are subject to compulsory certification,
  • goods requiring a license for their use,
  • medical services associated with termination of pregnancy,
  • tobacco and smoking articles,
  • services for writing graduation theses, diploma papers, dissertations etc.

However, there is also a list of goods, which ads are not prohibited in Russia, but are regulated individually.

Specific advertising requirements are stipulated in Russia for:

  • alcoholic products,
  • pharmaceuticals, medical products and services, traditional medicine,
  • dietary and food supplements, baby foods,
  • military goods and weapons,
  • bets and gambles,
  • financial activities and services,
  • securities,
  • annuity contract services,
  • mediation services,
  • arbitrage services.

All these goods and services may be advertised only within certain legal limits. For example, ads of alcoholic products may not involve images of people and animals, including animated characters, while ads of medical supplies and services shall contain explanations of the necessity to get professional medical advice and the existence of contraindications.

The law also thoroughly describes channels (printed media, TV, radio, OOH etc.) that may not be used for placement of ads for such goods. Apart from bans imposed by the Law on Advertising, there are also prohibitions introduced directly by advertising platforms. For advertisers who are willing to place their ads on Yandex.Direct, Google Ads, VKontakte or Facebook, there are auxiliary requirements stated by management of these platforms. Besides, lists of goods that are prohibited for advertising in Russia, can be expanded further.

So, for instance, VKontakte prohibits advertising of gambles, untrusted websites (including ones that collect personal data or contain ads forbidden by VKontakte rules), anabolic steroids, X-rated goods and services, AIT (artificially inflated traffic) activities, spam mailout etc. To advertise some goods and services (for example, medical), 18+ targeting and a disclaimer concerning contraindications is a must. If an advertiser is going to use mentions of tragic events (for instance, death, act of terrorism, funeral etc.), they will also have to back off from such ads except for ads of movies with respective targeting.

These very auxiliary restrictions, imposed not only by the Law on Advertising but also by the very platforms, cut down on a possibility of efficient advertising online promotion. After all, even if you provide all necessary documents and certificates, you can receive no in reply or a process of negotiating with the moderation service of Yandex or Google will be protracted for months. However, there is always an opportunity to minimize such risks: for example, you can prepare all documents in advance, submit creatives and adverts for moderation not on the launch date, but at least a week before to make all changes on time and have a successful launch when due etc.


  • Before you plan ads placement, make sure that your product is not on the list of goods that are disallowed in Russia.
  • Do not be afraid to promote goods that fall under extra restrictions—it is always possible to choose an effective format and a channel for ads placement to the extent permitted by Russian law.
  • When preparing an advertising campaign, please be guided not only by the contents of the Law on Advertising, but also learn requirements of platforms where you are going to have placement.
  • If ads of your goods require additional certificates or any other documents, prepare them and submit for consideration of advertising platforms beforehand.

If you are not sure whether you will be able to advertise your goods in the Russian market without any restrictions, feel free to contact us, and we will not only clear up all your doubts, but also help to prepare for promotion in the Russian market in good time.

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About the Author

Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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