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Kazakhstan finally gives in and uses “very nice” in new tourism campaign

Despite years of rejecting Sacha Baron Cohen’s depictions of Kazakhstan in Borat, the country’s tourism board finally adopts the humorous slogan “very nice”.

Following the October 23 release of Borat’s Subsequent MovieFilm, the sequel to Borat, Kazakhstan’s tourism board has launched the campaign of a lifetime that pays homage to the Khazak journalist’s catchphrase “very nice.”

Kazakhstan’s government initially banned the mockumentary when it was released sixteen years ago, and attempted to sue its star, Sacha Baron Cohen, for his incestuous and antisemitic depictions of the small nation in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan tourism takes on Borat's catchphrase
Photo: YouTube

Now, things have definitely changed with the release of a series of new ads on Sunday that feature tourists experiencing Kazakhstan’s food, nature, and culture while repeating Borat’s two infamous words.

The description on the YouTube video simply says: “How can you describe a place this surprising in just two words? As a wise man [once] said, “Very nice!” 

Speaking to the New York Times, deputy chairman of Khazakstan’s tourism board, Kairat Sadvakassov, finally appeared to embrace the idea that any publicity is good publicity, describing:

“In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media. Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there. We would love to work with Cohen, or maybe even have him film here.”

Sadvakassov also said that while the initial plan was to let the film “die its natural death and not respond”, plans changed after Dennis Keen, a former American exchange student who settled in the country, and his colleague, Yermek Utemissov, produced the four short highlights shown in the tourism video.

Cohen noted shortly after the campaign’s release that: “This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country. I chose Kazakhstan because it was a place that almost nobody in the U.S. knew anything about, which allowed us to create a wild, comedic, fake world. The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society — the opposite of Borat’s version.”