Kazakhstan’s tourism board has adopted the Borat catchphrase “very nice” in its new advertising campaign.
The phrase is used by the film character Borat, a fictional journalist from Kazakhstan.
The first Borat film caused outrage in the country, and authorities threatened to sue creator Sacha Baron Cohen.
But the country’s tourism board has now embraced Borat as a perfect marketing tool – particularly as a second Borat film has just been released.
It has released a number of short advertisements that highlight the country’s scenery and culture. The people in the video then use Borat’s catchphrase “very nice”.
“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,” Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said in a statement.
The tourism board were persuaded to use the catchphrase by American Dennis Keen and his friend Yermek Utemissov. They pitched the idea and produced the advertisements, according to the New York Times.
The response from social media users has been positive with many saying the advertisements capitalize on the film and send a positive message.
One said: “Well done. Great way to take the publicity created by a comedian and turn it to a positive message.”
The second film itself has had a mixed reception. The Kazakh American Association has slammed the film for promoting “racism, cultural appropriation and xenophobia”.
In a letter sent to Amazon, which has distribution rights to the film, the group asked: “Why is our small nation fair game for public ridicule?”
In Kazakhstan, more than 100,000 people signed an online petition demanding a cancellation of the film after a trailer was released.
“They completely desecrate and humiliate Kazakhstan and the dignity of the Kazakh nation,” the petition said.
Others on social media branded the film as a “stupid American comedy”.
When the first Borat film was released in 2006, authorities banned the film and release of it on DVD, and people were blocked from visiting its website.
Officials felt the movie portrayed Kazakhstan as a racist, sexist and primitive country.
In the film, Borat bragged about incest and rape. He also joked that the former Soviet nation had the cleanest prostitutes in the world.
The film also caused outrage in Romania where an entire village said they were “humiliated” by the film.
The village was used as the backdrop for Borat’s house. Residents said they were told the film was going to be a documentary, but instead were portrayed as backward people and criminals.
Years later, however, the Kazakhstan government thanked Sacha Baron Cohen for boosting tourism in the country.
In 2012, the foreign minister at the time, Yerzhan Kazykhanov, said he was “grateful” to Borat for “helping attract tourists” to the country, adding that 10 times more people were applying for visas to go there.