surinenglish

Malaga, a star of Russia's World Cup

Filming on Calle Larios in February.
Filming on Calle Larios in February. / SILVIA ARÁEZ
  • The iconic Equitativa building at the end of main street is the backdrop for a chewing gum commercial that tells Russians not to be shy about speaking English to tourists

Flags from all over the world, football shirts, Cossack hats, Russian dolls, smoke flares, parties, chants and... GOAL! This has been the scene on Russian televisions these last few days to celebrate the World Cup. However, the image in question is not from a sports programme nor a news broadcast. It is a commercial for Orbit chewing gum that invites Russians to try chatting in English so that the masses of travelling football fans leave with a good impression of the country and its people.

While the commercial appears on television screens in Moscow, it is clear that the setting of this commercial is none other than Malaga's Calle Larios and in the background is the famous Equitativa building.

The filming itself took place much earlier than the World Cup celebrations began, on Sunday 18 February. Over the course of that day, Malaga's main pedestrianised street was transformed into a side street of Moscow's Red Square, host to a typical market.

"Filming in Russia during the winter would have been impossible because the streets were covered with two metres of snow, so we moved shooting to Spain. Calle Larios was perfect and the straight lines of the La Equitativa building turned out to be very similar to those seen in Russian architecture," explained Silvia Aráez, of Fresco Film, the Malaga production company that created the advert for the BBDO Moscow agency.

Fifty extras took part in the filming of the advert, Time to Talk, in which a market trader chats with a foreign football fan.

A very European street

"[Calle] Larios' 19th-century style means it is the ideal location to represent any European city," explained Rafael Guadamuro, the director of casting at Modexpor, which was in charge of the selection of the extras, who put the football atmosphere into the advert.

In fact, as well as the Orbit campaign, the road has served to mimic the streets of London for a Samsonite advert and also as a snowy northern European city as part of a publicity campaign for Saudi Airlines.

In the case of Time to Talk, the humorous clip encourages Russians to "use English, as best you can, with mistakes and an accent, so that all the world can see that we are a friendly and hospitable country", explained Grigory Rakovsky, from BBDO Moscow.

The Russians certainly won't have lost their sense of humour after defeating Spain in the match last Sunday, much to the disappointment of those treading the pavements of Calle Larios this week.