A clever hack from creative agency Voskhod gave people access to the independent TV Rain with the help of the president’s face, writes Alex Reeves
As they say in the country's mass media... And an intriguing, tongue-in-cheek statement from agency Voskhod: “There is no censorship and no problems in Russia.” At least, that’s what they say officially in the country’s mass media.
There is no other opinion in Russia, ever since 2014 when TV Rain – the country’s only independent TV channel – was taken off air by all satellite and cable providers after an order from ‘above’.
But TV Rain hasn’t stopped covering the real state of affairs in Russia. It’s just that now people can only get an access to truth through a paid subscription.
In 2015 Vladimir Putin publicly declared he would ease the censorship burden. He did so again in 2016 and 2017 during his annual press conferences. But this miracle never happened.
A week before Putin’s regular press conference Russian agency Voskhod launched ‘Putin turns on the Rain’, allowing anyone to get access to TV Rain’s broadcasts for 24 hours if they presented the president’s portrait to a webcam.
The project was soon trending both in press and among ordinary users, flooding the Russian-speaking internet with a wealth of posts, memes, reaction videos and photos.
Even at the press conference itself, a journalist officially ‘turned the Rain on’ using the real president’s face.
Government officials actively used Rain’s new feature too, as they all have the necessary portrait available to them.
The agency says this resulted in 14,520,076 media impressions and a conversion rate of 16.7% (every sixth person used the new feature). In just two weeks the number of subscribers grew by 3.9%.