Kazakhstan has a new tourism campaign, and you’ll never guess what their slogan is! Actually, you very well might guess because it’s probably one of the few things you know about Kazakhstan. And if you read my blog from a few days ago, I gave it away in that too. That’s right it’s “Very nice!”.
After years of fighting against Borat, the Kazakhstan tourism authorities have finally bitten the bullet and have decided to use Borat and his international fame to their advantage. Pundits for years have suggested they should do this, something along the lines of “you’ve seen the film, now see the reality”, but the powers to be have generally been on the stubborn side, trying to clash directly with the film franchise rather than embracing it.
That has all changed though, thanks to the creative genius of an American born – Almaty (the largest city in Kazakhstan and former capital) local, Dennis Keen. Dennis has been involved in some amazing projects in his hometown of Almaty for years including walking tours, restoring all Soviet mosaics and even hosting a tourism-themed show on Kazakhstan television. Using his time and connections, he put together a quick and catchy proposal, got some help from some pretty eager friends, and in an amazing turn of face, the local Kazakhstan tourism authorities accepted it.
The advertising campaign shows varying scenes across Kazakhstan. These include the phenomenal futuristic capital of Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), the world-renowned ski resort Shymbulak, some foreign guests receiving traditional Kazakhstani hospitality and then shopping in a traditional local bazaar. Each scene is coupled with the phrase “Very Nice!” although not in the Borat voice. This campaign is classy and well-produced, but with just enough reference to Borat to know they’re having a little bit of fun with the whole thing. Embracing it rather than fighting it.
This is a big turn-around from years of diplomatic protests and legal challenges against the film and shows a maturity and willingness to experiment which are becoming hallmarks of modern Kazakhstan.