From the cold stares and Cold War mentions, to banging drums and ominous messages of ‘taking over the world’, viewers got a taste of the drama Olga and Valeria will be bringing to the MKR kitchen.
But Channel Seven’s decision to play up the friends from NSW’s Russian heritage has upset and offended many viewers, especially Russian-Australians.
Not because of the way the duo have been painted as the Russian baddies – MKR has always cast villain couples since the show first aired in 2010.
Or for the blatant exaggeration of Russian culture with references to vodka and war propaganda.
Rather, it’s the use of this symbol that’s prompted many fans to call for the ad’s removal, or boycott the upcoming series.
The gold symbol that features in the MKR promo is the hammer and sickle, which was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) symbol of communist power.
After the Russian revolution, the USSR adopted the hammer and sickle as the official symbol of the Soviet Union in 1922. It represented the worker-peasant alliance, with the hammer a traditional symbol of proletariat, and the sickle for the peasantry.
While it was a symbol of power to many under Stalin's communist rule, it is also a reminder to many Europeans, including Ukrainians, Polish, Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians, Romanians and Russians, of the regime that starved and shot millions in the 1930s.
This time is often referred to as the 'Holocaust of Hunger' - it's said as many as five million died of starvation, and more than 700,000 were executed during The Great Famaine, or Holodomor (death by starvation) to Ukrainians,
Much like the Nazi Swastika, the hammer and sickle is deeply hurtful and offensive to those with Eastern European heritage.
This was reflected in the comments posted by viewers upon seeing the ad:
"I used to really enjoy this show, but as a Russian-Australian, I'm disgusted by this stereotyping. You are promoting discrimination, vilifying my culture and misappropriating traditional folk songs (yes, folk, not propaganda songs) that are much loved by my family and country. We get enough this stereotyping rubbish everyday already." - Facebook.
"Bit ironic using a symbol of communism on your add for a cooking show when millions of people were starved to death, to the point of eating people & children, under that symbol. Are you trying to rub it in that we have more food than they did? Disgraceful." - Facebook.
"Blatantly obvious that Channel 7 resorts to controversial past symbology to boost ratings on a show that has gone past its expiry date. Notwithstanding that the hammer & sickle are in very poor taste to many European nationalities including Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, Romanian to name a few. Channel 7 needs to be seen to be inclusive of all viewers. This is simply shameful and in poor taste. MM, President Ukrainian Association of Western Australia." - Facebook.
"My complaint to MKR. I'm half Russian and that hammer and sickle is not representative of all Russians. It is he symbol of communist era Russia which ended around the time I was born. My family managed to escape communism which was a very oppressive regime. It was used with much propaganda. I'm sick of Russians being portrayed as people who live in the communist Soviet era. Thank you." - Facebook.
"I am disappointed and concerned with the use of the 'Hammer and Sickle' in your advertising material for the upcoming MKR season. While the symbol is still used within Russia, it is synonymous with the former USSR. It's use is illegal in many former Eastern European countries because of its roots in history. For many in the Ukranian community and diaspora, it is associated with the organised political famine of 1932-33 and the purges within the USSR. Under the USSR regime, many could not speak their own language or practice their own religion." - Facebook.
"As a Russian, and a fan of the show, I'm very disappointing and honestly offended, I hope you drop that USSR theme and I really hope it's not the soviet culinary heritage these girls are going to share with everybody)." - Facebook.
@Channel7 have you considered that using the hammer and sickle is offensive to the countries who were formerly USSR that dealt with years of suppression. It is banned in many countries and mkr is even shown in some of those countries. Why not use the Russian flag.
— Simon (@simKATmc) December 9, 2017
Dear idiots at @Channel7, do you really think the hammer and sickle flag of the USSR is appropriate to represent a Russian team? If they were German, would you display the Nazi swastika? Same thing, except communism killed far more people than fascism. Someone should be fired!
— Stacey Taylor (@StaceyTaylorUPF) January 6, 2018
As with any type of cultural appropriation, the use of the communist symbol, along with the overall representation of Russian people and their culture can be deeply hurtful.
Mamamia has reached out to Channel 7 and My Kitchen Rules for comment.
LISTEN: We unpack the very first trailer for My Kitchen Rules 2018, on The Binge...