Kazakhstan now has one "very nice" slogan for its new tourist campaign.
Fourteen years after the former Soviet republic first banned the original Borat film in 2006 over Sacha Baron Cohen's depiction of a Kazakh journalist, the country's tourism board has now decided to embrace the fictional character for a new campaign, following the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
The series of short clips above features various shots of the country's snow-capped mountains, modern city architecture, and cultural traditions among other subjects. Each ends with a visitor commenting Borat's infamous catchphrase — "Very nice!".
The campaign is launching amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has halted tourism efforts altogether.
"It's a place you may have heard of, that's nicer than you ever imagined," a message alongside the video on Kazakhstan Travel’s official YouTube channel reads. "How can you describe a place this surprising in just two words? As a wise man said, 'Very nice!'"
According to NBC News, the new and cheeky campaign was initially pitched to the Kazakhstan tourism board by Dennis Kee, a Los Angeles native who studied in Kazakhstan and later decided to move back to the country in 2013.
"When people back home talk about Kazakhstan, their knowledge often starts and ends with Borat, so I think it was a missed opportunity not to capitalize on the first film," he told the outlet.
After Kee saw the trailer for the sequel film — which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on Friday — he and his friend, Yermek Utemissov, shared his idea to capitalize on the movie with the tourist board.
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"They just said, 'This is perfect, it's exactly what we're looking for,'" he recalls. "It's a good phrase on its own because Kazakhstan is a 'very nice' country, but the fact that it has this tongue-in-cheek element that plays into the Borat catchphrase is what makes it fun."
The two then worked together for free to craft the four 12-second ad spots. Utemissov said he wasn't worried about citizens of Kazakhstan disliking the videos.
"It’s a newer generation," he told The New York Times. "They’ve got Twitter, they’ve got Instagram, they’ve got Reddit, they know English, they know memes. They get it. They’re inside the media world. We’re looking at the same comedians, the same Kimmel show. Kazakhstan is globalized."
The travel board’s deputy chairman, Kairat Sadvakassov, also spoke to the Times, where he revealed that the group initially decided to let the hype surrounding the film "die its natural death," but Kee and Utemissov's idea allowed them to change their views.
"In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media," he told the outlet. "Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there. We would love to work with Cohen, or maybe even have him film here."
When Cohen, 49, learned of the group's newfound view of his Borat character, the actor said in an email statement to the Times, "This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country. I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world."
He added, "The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat's version."
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