The official tourism board of Kazakhstan, a nation whose government once denounced the 2006 film “Borat,” is now embracing the character’s most popular catchphrase as part of its latest tourism campaign.
No, not “My wiiiife!” The other one.
Kazakhstan Travel officially debuted its new tourism campaign — “Very Nice” — in a series of ads aimed at highlighting the actual Kazakhstan rather than the version presented by Sacha Baron Cohen in “Borat” and its sequel. The four short advertisements showcase the country’s landscapes, architecture, food and culture, each ending with a visitor remarking on the “very nice” experiences.
“Kazakhstan? Very nice! It’s a place you may have heard of, that’s nicer than you ever imagined,” reads a message posted to Kazakhstan Travel’s official social media pages.
The description goes on to tout Kazakhstan as a place where tourists can find “endless steppe, sand and epic mountain peaks” as well as modern cities. The post also boasts of Kazakhstan’s shopping malls (“with sandy beaches”) and traditional foods like “garlicky Kazakh horse sausage” and “spicy Uighur noodles.”
“How can you describe a place this surprising in just two words? As a wise man onсe said, ‘Very nice!'”
The campaign itself, however, was initially pitched to the Kazakhstan tourism board by Dennis Keen, an American who studied and eventually moved to Kazakhstan where he currently appears on a travel series, the New York Times reports. And the tourism board, after coming around to the Borat character in recent years, greenlit the idea.
“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,” said Kairat Sadvakassov, the deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, in a statement obtained by Huffington Post. “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.”
Cohen himself has since responded, telling the Times that he initially chose Kazakhstan as Borat’s homeland because “almost nobody” in America knew anything about it, allowing him to create a “fake world.”
“The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version,” he said.
Meanwhile, not everyone is so thrilled with the latest “Borat” film. President Trump has already said he doesn’t find Cohen “funny,” to which Cohen replied and said the feeling was mutual, even though “the whole world laughs at [Trump.]” Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has also responded after being filmed together with a woman portraying a reporter in one of the sequel’s scenes, saying the footage was taken out of context.