Russian firearms manufacturer Kalashnikov launched some slick new branding centering around its storied AK-47 assault rifle in Moscow this week, which aims to redefine the image of one of the most iconic insurgent weapons of war as a “weapon of peace.”
“It precipitated not just a technological but a social revolution,” a voiceover says in a newly released marketing video according to The Guardian. “Freedom movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America could at last fight back against professional colonial armies. The AK-47 gave them the chance to demand rights and achieve justice. This is a weapon which helped people defend their families and futures, and demand the right to a peaceful future.”
Another video shows a Russian military force — equipped with the latest AKs — taking out a group of terrorists, and ends with the tagline, “Kalashnikov: promoting peace and calm.”
Sergei Chemezov — the head of a Russian state corporation with a controlling interest in Kalashnikov — said he hopes the new branding will make the company as widely recognized as Apple across the world.
The rebrand was unveiled during a Moscow party complete with women in black dresses showing off new products, an orchestra playing Russian war anthems and an announcer dressed in a Soviet uniform according to a Moscow Times report cited by The Verge, and comes amid the recent imposition of U.S. economic sanctions. Imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, the sanctions bar the sale of the rifles in the U.S. and Canada, where up to 200,000 Kalashnikovs were expected to ship annually over the next five years.
More than 100 million Kalashnikovs are estimated to have been sold worldwide according to the BBC, and 140,000 so far this year — a doubling of last year’s sales.
The AK-47 was invented in 1947 by Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died last year at the age of 94.