Borat, a tourist campaign from Kazakhstan and the importance of laughing at yourself in the age of social media marketing

  • When the film Borat hit theaters a few years ago , in which actor Sacha Baron Cohen posed as a journalist from Kazakhstan and presented a wild image of the country, the Kazakh government was furious. The film was banned in several countries and the actor's website was blocked for a time in Kazakhstan. However, with the premiere of the second film installment in which the character stars, the reaction in Kazakhstan has been totally different.

    From the outset, the reaction to the first film was no longer unanimously critical: as a Kazakh analyst explains in a column he published on the 10th anniversary of the first film, there were those from the country who saw the success of the film as a potential opportunity to make public relations. And, despite the rejection that the film generated at the time, the country's administrations understood, he explains, that they had to change the narrative: they had to take advantage of it to explain what exactly Kazakhstan is. Then, the government recognized that the number of tourist visas had grown by 10 after the premiere of the film.

    Now, the Kazakh tourism body has directly taken advantage of the pull of the premiere of the new Borat film to make an advertising campaign and get its tourism marketing to capitalize on the issue of the moment.

    Instead of launching a war against the film from the Kazakh administrations, as the creator hoped, another reality was found. "They made the decision to let die naturally and do not respond , " explained to The New York Times Kairat Sadvakassov, head of the tourism agency of the country. They didn't want to overreact to the pitch. But in the end they were not silent: a proposal from a tourist professional ended up bearing fruit in an advertising campaign.

    Rather than skip the film, they have used Last Database it to do tourism marketing and to remind travelers that they exist (something especially important in the context of the pandemic and the collapse of the global tourism market). The phrase that Borat uses repeatedly ( Very nice! Very nice) has become his slogan in a tourism campaign. The protagonists of the advertisement exclaim it when they cross the attractive points of the country.

    The importance of laughing at yourself in the age of social media
    The story of the Kazakh campaign in Borat is an example of tourism marketing and also an example of how something that was supposed to be negative press can be turned into something positive. But, in addition, it also serves as an example of another very important question, that of how brands should learn to be more flexible in the age of social media (something that is not always easy for them).

    For those responsible for marketing and for those who must monitor how their brand image is transmitted, any element that breaks with what they have established as the corporate image becomes a threat. Anyone who has worked as a community manager or in communication will have experienced it: someone is angry a couple of steps above the organization chart because they have not used the favorite form of the position of that director or because a consumer has done something that they did not They like it with their brand (and asking them to remove, no matter how much the manager wants, will only create a reputational storm).

    And it is that one of the key points of social networks and how they have changed the relationship between brands and customers is that, in the new era that they have opened in relationships with each other (and that already goes beyond what happens in social media), brands have ended up losing control.

    It is not just that the conversations are more and more from you to you, it is that the brands have lost total control of the discourse. In the previous scenario, only certain very specific issuers launched messages. Now anyone can do it and that means that brands, whether they want to or not, cannot control everything that is said and everything that is generated about them.

    Therefore, there is no choice but to assume that reality and live with it, which implies knowing how to accept criticism and jokes and being able to laugh at oneself. Brands cannot be taken 'so seriously' and be so static.


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