As the famous expression goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
The tourism board of Kazakhstan has taken that to heart, and decided to feature the catchphrase that made the country infamous at the center of the its new travel campaign. Kind of.
A new digital ad called “Very Nice” is a twist on Sacha Baron Cohen’s intolerant and ignorant character Borat, who hails from Kazakhstan (Baron Cohen, in actuality, is from the U.K.). The former Soviet country is featured heavily in Borat’s two films, the first released in 2006 and its sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, released last Friday on Amazon Prime Video. It’s a far cry from the country’s initial response to ban the first film 14 years ago.
Instead of Borat screaming, ‘Very nice!’ after something obscene, the spots—each 12 seconds and shared on the tourism agency’s social pages—foreigners relish in the country’s natural beauty, cuisine and are surprised to the point of delivering the line
“The slogan offers the perfect description of Kazakhstan’s vast tourism potential in a short, memorable way,” Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said in a statement. “Kazakhstan’s nature is very nice; its food is very nice; and its people, despite Borat’s jokes to the contrary, are some of the nicest in the world. We would like everyone to come experience Kazakhstan for themselves by visiting our country in 2021 and beyond, so that they can see that Borat’s homeland is nicer than they may have heard.”
While Borat isn’t exactly a love letter to the country—in fact, far from it—the character is often used to reveal many of society’s own flaws and bigotry.
The new spots went viral after The New York Times interviewed the advertisements producer, an American who gives tours of the country.