(NewsNation) — An iconic and controversial 1998 Pizza Hut advertisement was certainly a big win for Pizza Hut and its effort to bring global attention to its brand. But perhaps even more so, the Pizza Hut commercial featuring USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev was a win for western capitalism.
Patrons who spot him entering the restaurant get into an argument over whether or not Gorbachev was a good leader.
“Because of him we have economic confusion,” one disgruntled patron says.
“Because of him we have economic opportunity,” a Gorbachev supporter responds.
“Because of him we have political instability,” came the response.
“Because of him we have freedom!”
The two go back and forth, exchanging both praise and criticism for Gorbachev before eventually another patron intervenes and reminds the pair that because of Gorbachev, Russia has Pizza Hut. The proclamation gets the entire restaurant on its feet.
“Hail Gorbachev,” the restaurant proclaims while feasting on their American pizza.
The ad closes with a message: “Sometimes nothing brings people together like a nice hot pizza from Pizza Hut.”
The commercial was aired internationally, but not in Russia. It aired during the 1998 Rose Bowl matchup between Michigan and Washington State on Jan. 1, 1998.
Pizza Hut opened in Russia in 1990, shortly after McDonald’s was allowed to open shop in Soviet Russia, marking two of the first western chains allowed to do business there. Pizza Hut’s salad bar was said to be the first of its kind in Russia.
It wasn’t Gorbachev’s only appearance in an advertisement. In 2007, Gorbachev appeared in an ad for Louis Vuitton. He was photographed in a car with a Vuitton bag at his side as he rides past the Berlin Wall.
He also won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children alongside former President Bill Clinton and Italian actress Sophia Loren in the early 2000s.