Some companies are indelibly associated with one product: King with Candy Crush, McDonald’s with the Big Mac, Coca Cola with, well, Coca Cola. Whether they are able to diversify, though, is another question. Kalashnikov is the latest one product pony to attempt to rebrand itself, in a bid to move away from the AK-47, the iconic, cheap rifle beloved of rebels and revolutionaries across the world
The Russian weapons maker unveiled new logos and a range of shooting and hunting clothing at what The Moscow Times described as a ‘blowout’ event in Moscow last night, complete with patriotic Soviet songs and young women carrying gun cartridges. It also announced a rather hopeful new slogan: ‘Protecting peace’.
‘The idea is that weapons should help keep the peace, uphold justice, dignity and the right to life,’ the company said in a wonderfully ironic statement, according to the Telegraph. ‘With a weapon in hands, people can ensure a peaceful future for their families, the nation and the country.’
The company also acknowledged the heritage of the AK-47, saying, ‘In the minds of hundreds of million people around the world AK is closely tied with the struggle against imperialism and colonial exploitation, with democratic movements and the fight for freedom and independence.’ No matter, then, that former Soviet tank commander Mikail Kalashnikov, who died last year, said he found the deaths caused by his invention ‘unbearable’.
The rebrand comes as Kalashnikov, which exports 80% of its civilian weapons, struggles with the impact of Western sanctions on Russia. An order for 200,000 rifles destined for the US and Canada has reportedly been held up. That’s big numbers for a company that said it has sold 140,000 weapons so far this year, double the number in 2013.
Chief exec Alexei Krivoruchko said it's aiming to make 300,000 guns a year by 2020. Let’s be honest - most of those will probably still be AK-47s.