Interview with Alissa Gordeeva



I was born in Rostov, and my childhood memories are closely associated with this city.

I understand everything about Rostov. It’s like a family member: even if you know that your grandpa is alcoholic, you love him all the same.
I know the drawbacks of this city, why had Kirill Serebrennikov left it.

I understand why many people couldn’t stay here. But I still love it. At his point I can probably leave Rostov, but only if I could come back from time to time.

Rostov is like a jar of molasses, it pulls you in, it’s very hard to take off from here. Maybe because it’s warm and hearty.

It is a big bonus: to be born and raised in Rostov, but career should be sought in a different place. I, though, didn’t leave, and it allowed me to build an international business.

Rostov gives a very good background, a very dense understanding of life, like a dense juice.

Even our borscht is very different from, let’s say, St. Petersburg’s borscht. It’s a very dense atmosphere; it’s good for growing up.


America is a different world for me. For me it almost the same as if I’d try to discuss traditions of remote African tribe “Mumba-Umba”. It is a different way of life. Americans have a different history; we are different in small things, on the cognitive level. It’s impossible to blame either side for their differences: life is structured differently in those countries.

I personally know a couple, who lived happily for a long time, and then the wife suddenly sued her husband for not washing dishes as often as she does. While this case was being investigated, they continued to be husband and wife. At the end her lawyers won a monetary compensation for her, and her husband accepted an obligation to always put dishes into dishwasher. And after that they continued to be a husband and a wife.

But we make conclusions from the place where we live, using our own picture of the world.

There are jokes Americans don’t understand at all: sexist jokes, for example.

During all the months and even years of my stay in US, I have never heard someone criticize woman’s driving. Even in the private company. In their heads women aren’t different from men in any way. They want to see male features in women.


I am interested in politics, national as well as global. Even though I understand how complicated the situation in Syria is, I am totally against the possibility of military intervention in Syria. I am interested in the issues of human rights defense in Russia.

I actively react to everything connected with injustice. Even though I am far from being abrupt and judgemental.

I understand that there two sides to everything, that there are no right or wrong participants.

But everything associated with deception and manipulation troubles me a lot. My work, both in journalism and marketing, is connected with propaganda and manipulation. And because I often teach these things to others, I don’t accept them in life. I believe that I should either speak frankly and sincerely, or not speak at all. I would sooner offend a person than manipulate him.

Only five years ago, I was telling everyone that I am not at all interested in politics, and I actually wasn’t. But conversations some people had with me provoked them to get interested in politics. And now it’s me following them.


It was hard for me to gain respect in the predominantly male environment. If I was born a boy, that’s how I would solve any situation: I would go with them in a restaurant, drink, tell a couple of obscene jokes, and we would come to an agreement. Or I would slam my fist on the table, and they would start to respect me.

But, imagine, on the one hand that you are a woman, you should be imposing, pleasant, nice; on the other – you should solve very hard things, stand for the corporate goals. And there is a discord in that.

We had several clients, who, with all due respect to me, used to say: “Please, don’t come to negotiations table, let your assistant come, because when you begin insisting, I can hardly keep myself from saying: “Hush! Nobody gave the floor to women”.

But now being a woman actually helps. It allows me to multitask.

Versatility is built in women, who are able to upkeep the house.

Women are priceless since they undergo maternity leave training: walking the child, washing socks, cooking porridge, iron husband’s clothes – 285 tasks. And if they choose to channel all that training and energy into the business they will achieve excellent entrepreneurial results.

For example, I am more productive when I work on several documents simultaneously. Of course, there are men with similar qualities out there, they do it brilliantly, and it is great.


Some time ago I was shocked by one story. Several years ago, when we were reading a masterclass, I met a woman from a French delegation. We talked for a while, and it turned out that her first love was a boy, who had the same last name as my father had.

I had  a pattern break when I heard that this girl from a decent Armenian family, who lived in Paris, approached a boy (she was fourteen) and said: “You know, I love you”. And he answered: “Cool, but I don’t”. I thought: “Oh my god, where is this world heading!” What should happen with people, who cultivated a certain attitude of men towards women for centuries:

inaccessibility, gentle hints, when a slight swing of eyelashes meant more than a dozen words?

Why only one generation later a person can approach a guy an tell him: “You know, I love you”?

And now I will say terrible things. American men are not afraid to age, because nobody worries about losing erection. And since men don’t fear becoming impotent, they don’t till they are 70 years old. And a woman is happy with him. I think it’s a major achievement of feminism.

One of the excuses for feminism is that world is different from what it had been a century ago.

And some things in feminism are just: there is a lot of honesty and mutual respect. I understood all of this only when I came to US, where I expected to see stereotypical women with a waving feminism flag, and oppressed white heterosexual men.

I can’t say that I have accepted a right of a woman to approach a man and say “I like you”, but I have totally understood it.

There is a purity of relationship in this. There are no broken lives, sufferings, tears.

The way we have it in Russia is: ask out to a movie – “no”, next time – “yes”, first date in two weeks, sex after 90 days, marriage, without ever saying “I love you”.

It is a code that is understood by men in Russian, language we speak. I didn’t like feminism because of this sexual freedom. Even now it is less important for me that a woman has  a right to vote, work, be clever, and have an opinion. What is important is that she has the same sexual rights.

And still, southern blood flows in my veins, making me an “eastern” woman. For me woman represents vagueness, look, locks, cheeks.

We are different, made different by the god; and the strength of boys and girls is in their differences. For ages we had been gathering berries and looking over children, that’s why we talk a lot and easily find scattered clothes at home. A man had been silently sitting for hours, waiting to ambush a mammoth. He had a different objective. If he was gathering mushrooms, he would miss the mammoth. His task is to track a single target.

Feminism, in some sense, says to this development theory: “No, guys, you are similar, you have the same opportunities and abilities.”


For me, man is always on pedestal. I am one of the people who want man to set standards and boundaries.

Speaking of how great women are, I am often fascinated by men’s ability to think, find solutions without being hysterical.

I once read an interview with Konstantin Raikin in Esquire, where he said that if a man have never had a woman break up with him and if he didn’t suffer afterwards, then his soul hasn’t formed yet.

Romantic sufferings, I think, make us very mature.

Love doesn’t let us judge another person, but it gives us the ability to apply philosophical approach to a situation, if need be.

Alright, it happened – you broke up, but you can’t judge him: you still love him.

On the other hand, American man is more free. He didn’t have Soviet past or depressed and desperate mother, who in the 70s worked in the planning institute.

American man never knew what hunger is.

His grandmother didn’t become a widow after the World War II. While I respect American history a lot, nobody would argue that they have never seen grief and misfortune we’ve suffered.

If a man behaves like a man, woman quickly becomes a woman.

One of the stars of the Soviet period once said: “Do you want woman to have pedicure? Kiss he legs.”


Do you know the main difference between Russians and Americans? Our inner motto is suffering, we need a situation where we would suffer. We want to fall in love, so that we could suffer, we have a child in order to suffer, go to college with the same purpose.

In every situation we found as much suffering as we can. But American national idea is “enjoy”. Whatever happens – guys, enjoy.

My attitude towards life changed with time. But I had to lose something for it to do. I think that sufferings make us gentle and sensitive.

At any rate, I was brought up as a Russian, so I am for suffering. Worry, sorrow, loss bare the soul, sharpen the perception.

You feel every second of life. After my parents passed (they did it very quickly, over the course of one and a half years) I stopped saving money. It can happen at any moment, so I live here and now, in this particular moment.

When the love comes, the most important thing for me is not to destroy everything and everybody around me.

Imagine: a person has a heightened adrenaline at all times, and he falls in love. There is no space for everybody, and mostly for himself.

That is why controlling my temperament is my main task on the course of my life.

I am a very energetic and passionate person.

It is probably something I have been struggling with for my whole life, something that determines my pathological restraint with men. I can’t allow short relationships to myself – it’s a matter of manners as well as a matter of emotional survival.

Parachute jumping is contra-indicated to me: I would have a heart failure, because my general adrenaline level is too high all the time.


I would change myself if I could. I would become wise and tolerant a bit earlier.

I would like to get rid of egoism a bit earlier. IwouldchangesituationswhereIactedstupidly. I could act differently I were wiser, if I could see the other person. When I came to understand my mother, she had already passed.

Now I would come to an agreement with her. I would have time to say something to the father.

I had a wonderful life: wonderful people surrounded me in childhood, amazing parents, who were great coaches for me. I haven’t had a situation, which, while seeming terrible at that time, became a fascinating chance or a trampoline to something else.

Everything, except for losing family, turned out to be good later. But even this loss made me wiser. Without losing, I wouldn’t understand.

I would like to have open eyes and listen the world much earlier. But as a child I was amazed by my developed intuition, ability to foresee events, that I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on around me.

I was so focused on minor things, that I couldn’t see the big picture. And when I calmed down and accepted this, the whole world opened to me.


I can definitely pay a lot for the emotions. What do I spend money on with pleasure? On books.

We had five thousand books at home, so I was practically growing up in the library. Some people collect gold, and we are grabbers as well – we collect books. Sometimes we had such situations in my family, when we could spend the last thousand of roubles  on books, and starve for the next week. Nomoney? Thenweeatpotatoesandbread. I could move to another apartment a dozen times, but it’s and apartment I was born in.

My parents and my grandmother lived there. My friends laugh at his, saying: “Make a house-museum there already!”

Different material things never attracted me. I have (I can tell, because they are not in my house) several antique diamond rings. One of them has two emeralds and a diamond in the center. Anotherone, completelyfantastic, hasseveraldiamonds.

It was a gift to my mother – they once belonged to a courtier maid in the Polish Emperor’s court.

Theywereevenworkedmanually, notbylaser.

I don’t have to say that both things are of fascinating beauty. I have never worn one of the rings, and I wore another one only once – on a friends’ wedding. I have never felt more uncomfortable.

I don’t like gold, nor do I wear it or even understand anything in it. Whenever I wear it, I want only one thing – to take it off immediately. Iamtotallyindifferenttojewelry. Deep down, I am indifferent to clothes as well. In a sense that if I have a pair of jeans or a dress, I don’t really care how much the thing costs. I can easily wear jeans and t-shirt on a business meeting, and I’m so happy that I don’t need to prove anything with my dress-code, that I’m smart, successful and know something in my profession.


It is actually a very serious question of a huge human sorrow. A question of all religions, mystics, philosophers in the world. It is the question that at some point made me face a choice: go on with temporal life, or search the meaning of life.

I am actually afraid, that our hurry, desire to have a lot of work, a lot of contacts, romances, food, clothes is a desire to run from thinking about meaning of life.

Because it is much more fun to live life, than to think about its meaning.

When a person starts to think about it, he always stands near the dark abyss, which is terrifying to look at.

I am afraid that our whole life might be an escape from the necessity to look at this abyss.

We are supposed to fly there, jump down and fly, but we are afraid.

Nevertheless, I am for thinking about the meaning. People acquire cynicism because they are afraid to think about it. I am against thinking about meaning of life at 16, because it is always close to a suicide. But I am for thinking about it in the maturity. I think that reflecting about meaning is an indicator of a mature personality.

Turns out that we leave the eternal and priceless to the side, and keep ourselves busy with momentary, which is pleasant right now.

If you are thinking about the meaning of life, you would pay attention to others’fates, to intervention into their personal lives. If you are thinking about the meaning of life, you can’t live with lies, censure, or egoism.

There is universe. There is a history of the emergence of humankind. Nobody would disagree that there is sometimes a thought that you don’t need to say for other person to understand. There is intuition, there are signs.

There are so many undiscovered things.

Sometimes such incredible coincidences happen, that you think: “Oh god, somebody is just playing me”. And if you see this, if you read these signs, pay attention to coincidences, perceive life as a wonder, how can you not think about the meaning of life?


There is a difference between creative and craft work. Of course, we see poet or musician in the ecstasy more often; and, it seems, this is creativity, and sweeping the street is craft. But I am afraid that there is enough violinists in the symphonic orchestra, who can’t wait to pack their instrument and go home.

But have you seen old men of undistinguishable ethnicity, who repair shoes and look like Melquiades from One Hundred Years of Solitude

I remember us in the childhood, standing near one such man and looking at his work for hours. It was magic: his hands were flying, he was creating. Is he a craftsman? Yes. Is he creating? Beyond doubt.

Creativity is the way you perceive you work. I don’t know what steel makers feel, but if a person has “fire” inside, he will make steel creatively.

When you are in “drive”, you are nor bored. When you are bored, you are bored everywhere: on the kitchen, at work, in bed with a husband, with children on the exhibition. When I see posts like “Yeah! Friday!”, I can’t understand what they are talking about. Why “Yeah”? Why do you work on a job which you don’t like?

Why didn’t you come to love you job yet?

If you are bored with yourself, you will be bored with anybody else.

I don’t really need anybody now. Yes, I love people a lot, but if there is nobody around me, I would still feel very good with myself.

Recorded by Diana Dadasheva.

September 10, 2013

Celebrity scents of Russia


New trends in fragrance industry around the world has been presented by Euromonitor International Company. According to the report, this year Russians switched to popular premium brands instead of mass brand products. Most of the customers prefer to buy perfume in big and well-known store chains such as L’Etoile, Rive Gauche and Ile de Beauté, because there they can find a combination of elegant wrapping and excellent quality. Emotional part of the deal is as important as rational: Russians prefer to pay more for good service and friendly atmosphere.

Roston-on-Don`s fragrance market reflects the hot trends of Russia. BrandHouse Group conducted a full in-depth research of perfumes landscape of Rostov. According to BrandHouse Research, female customers regarded the process of buying fragrances as a serious matter. They talk about perfumes, they know all trends and innovations. They prefer well-known brands and are ready to spend a lot on fashion fragrances. Most of women pay from 1000 to 2800 roubles for 50 ml of trendy scents.

The most desirable brands are:

  • Chanel
  • Christian Dior
  • Lanvine

The main reason for buying expensive perfumes is the feeling of seductiveness and self-confidence. Valeria Gildenberg, the head of the analytical department of the BrandHouse Group, said that the tendency of buying expensive fragrances for good mood will grow this year, “Prices for perfumes had grown last year. Despite this fact, 45 percent of people haven`t changed and aren`t going to change their customer policy. If a woman likes the fragrance she doesn`t worry about the price”.

The research was conducted among 300 women from 18 to 55 years old.The main method of the research was a face-to-face interview. The research was in the first quarter of 2013.

Why personal branding is so important?


The topic of personal development and achieving success is very popular, but the personal branding is seldom associated with it. The same way are drawn political predictions: by campaign managers, sociologists, PR specialists. It’s great when they turn out to be right, but it doesn’t change the problem itself. Political elections is the same marketing war as the battle of Coca Cola and Pepsi.

It might sound seditious or paradoxical, but from the marketing point of view there is not much difference between salted peanuts and a politician. Branding of both of them requires same technology and methods. Incentives that make you take a certain brand of juice from the shelf are almost identical to the incentives that lead your hand to a particular line in an elections ballot. It is naive to assume that customers are totally aware of the chemical contents of juice they buy or that they know much about the structure of the government and know candidates’ surroundings personally. That’s why personal branding will be done better by the brand manager with a ten years of experience in sour cream industry, than a campaign manager, sociologist or an image maker. It should be done by a professional who has experience in putting a new product out in the market and promoting it.

Branding as an instrument is of the same age with the humanity. First chiefs, who led tribes on fertile lands or in battle with neighbors, had been using the same methods we use today. Branding as a technology has been developing throughout the history as a personal branding in the first place. Alexander the Great didn’t have a brand manager, he didn’t really need it. Bright charisma and leadership of the historical figures are just an unconscious use of the personal branding methods.

Politics had armed itself with marketing methods long time ago. In the 1920s the institute of propaganda was inventing and using things that are nothing more than branding. Later methods had crystallized, stopped depending on the brandmaker’s charisma, and became tools as we understand them: if you know how – take it up and do it.

Tools of branding were used totally consciously in the political processes in Russia in 90s (but since 60s in the whole world). For example, studies were conducted in order to determine the preferable parameters of the future president – even smell and color that are associated with a successfull candidate. Another example is the Barack
Obama’s victory. His brilliant campaign made it into the textbooks and became the standard of the personal branding, won all the possible awards on the international marketing competitions. I believe that the current US president is the best brand in the human history, and, therefore, studying it as a product, as a phenomenon is a professional pleasure.

PR, gaining publicity and creating image don’t substitute branding. The key difference between a brand and components that disguise themselves as a brand is the focus on a particular result. Branding has analytics, research, segmentation, entry into the market, adaptation to a target audience, sales. Branding is more trendy, market phenomenon than image or PR. Where is the place of an image maker or a PR specialist? In a team. Just with the speech writer, coach, stylist, secretary – everybody
who “make the king”.

Of course one cannot make a brand from a person without his desire and his effort. He has to becoma a member of a team that makes himself a brand. Personal branding stands close to working on yourself, personal growth and major changes in life. It requires long, hard, and thorough, though captivating, work. Branding is more like a mountain climbing than a cruise: you need to move, suffer physical and moral hardships; it requires strong will and concentration. It demands intelectual resources
of a person much more than time resources.

After all, brand, not supported by quality, goes to pieces as quickly as some top blogger types text on his iPad.

Days of PR and marketing: good ideas worth sharing


The international Forum Days of PR and Marketing in South of Russia took place on 4th – 5th June, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. There were two days, 200 participants, more than 15 relevant topics, 11 experts from three continents. BrandHouse Group became the initiator of the project.

This year forum was focused on advanced marketing practices, the best PR tools and territory branding.

Traditionally Days of PR get together prominent experts from different countries. This year special guests of the event were:

Koenraad van Hasselt (Netherlands), award-winning communications executive with 20+ years of experience in building a strong international corporate profile, developing high performing regional and global communications teams, and advancing the ambitious short-term and long-term objectives of corporations in diverse industries.
Mary Ellen Hickman (USA), founder and managing partner of the Hickman Consulting Partners, Adjunct Professor of Marketing in Marymount University. Professional marketing strategist who works with management teams to dramatically improve profitability while developing organizations to the next level. Specializes in businesses and nonprofits seeking significant growth.

Richard Linning (Great Britain), Scholar-in-Residence, Center for Global Public Relations University of North Carolina at Charlotte, consultant for European Union and World Bank funded projects in former Eastern Europe and public sector projects in the Middle East visited the Forum for the second time.

Besides there were 8 speakers who presented the Russian and European trends and the mentality issues. Among them was Alissa Gordeeva (Russia), President of BrandHouse Group. She talked about creative aspects in marketing. “Believe it or not, sincerity and honesty is a way to successful and effective marketing”, she said. “The experience of international companies proves it. If a company wants to exist for a long time, it has to behave in the honest way and to honour it`s pledges”, Ms. Gordeeva advised.

Days of PR in the South of Russia started up in 2009 by the initiative of BrandHouse Group. The first and unique in its own way event, gathered more than 200 PR-specialists from the South of Russia, including more than 100 top-managers. BrandHouse had made a real breakthrough in marketing area. The debate of that year affected the future of the PR, methods and techniques in mass communication area. During the consecutive year we had got a great number of requests to repeat the event. It was a real victory and success.

In 2011 PR-specialists gathered for the second time. “Digital Sapiens” became new topic of discussion. The way of thinking and communicating between “digital generation” was the main issue of the event. Journalists were interested in new media trends such as digital media. During two days participants shared their knowledge with each other, acquiring new techniques and methods for their everyday work.

Third Forum was held with motto “Days of PR in the South of Russia. Express yourself”. Phrase “express yourself” meant here to be beyond the standards, give dare to everyday routine. Experts shared their unique experience of avoiding frames, impressing their clients, projecting yourself in the best way. International expert Richard Linning, president of IPRA shared to participants their ideas in PR-area. All materials had been presented in non-typical and creative way.