'Very nice!': Borat's catchphrase is Kazakhstan's new tourism slogan
TORONTO -- After initially banning the first "Borat" movie, Kazakhstan now appears to have accepted the attention the second film is bringing to the country.
Kazakhstan, the home country of fictional journalist Borat Sagdiyev who is played by Sacha Baron Cohen, has adopted the character's "Very nice!" catchphrase for a new tourism campaign.
Like the first film, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" depicts the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan as a place where women are kept in cages, prostitution is a primary industry, and anti-Semitism and homophobia run rampant.
Despite the unflattering depiction, Kairat Sadvakassov, the deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said in a statement to the Huffington Post that adopting Borat’s catchphrase "offers the perfect description of Kazakhstan’s vast tourism potential in a short, memorable way."
"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," Sadvakassov said in the statement.
Sadvakassov said the government initially planned to let the popularity of the second “Borat” film, which premiered on Amazon Prime on Friday, "die its natural death and not respond."
However, "Borat" fan Dennis Keen, a U.S. citizen living in Kazakhstan who has a business running walking tours, was able to change the minds of the tourism board members to adopt the catchphrase in a series of advertisements featuring the slogan: "Kazakhstan. Very nice!"
The new tourism campaign, which was rolled out on Sunday, depicts Kazakhstan's natural landscape of mountains and lakes, futuristic-looking architecture, local traditions, and regional cuisine, with people in the ads noting that all of the sites are "very nice."
"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," Sadvakassov said in the statement.
In 2006, the Kazakh government banned the first "Borat" movie and took out full-page ads in various U.S. newspapers to refute many of the film’s "facts" about Kazakhstan.
While Kazakh Tourism seems to be embracing "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," others in the country remain unimpressed with the sequel.
Prior to the movie’s release, more than 100,000 people signed an online petition to cancel the film. Small groups also protested in front of the U.S. consulate in the Kazakh city of Almaty on the day of the film’s premiere.