While Kazakhstan historically hasn’t always welcomed Sacha Baron Cohen’s use of the country in Borat, it’s now capitalizing off the momentum from Borat 2 to launch a new tourism campaign. The new series of ads shows various people appreciating Kazakhstan as “very nice,” as reported by GameSpot’s sister site CNET.
The government of Kazakhstan has an uneasy relationship with Baron Cohen’s Borat–while it has been criticized by both citizens and government officials for its crass depiction of the country, the movie also increased tourism to Kazakhstan by an order of magnitudes.
Now, Kazakhstan is leaning on the infamy brought by Borat 2 to launch its ad campaign, by using one of Borat’s catchphrases. The videos show people appreciating Kazakh food, culture, cities and natural beauty, and then describing it as “very nice.”
As the New York Times reports, the man drinking out of a bowl at a market stall is actually drinking fermented horse milk–not horse urine, as depicted in Borat. “In COVID times, when tourism spending is on hold, it was good to see the country mentioned in the media,” the Times article quotes Kazakh tourism board deputy chairman Kairat Sadvakassov as saying. “Not in the nicest way, but it’s good to be out there.”
The Times also quoted Baron Cohen, who has nothing but good things to say about the actual country of Kazakhstan. “This is a comedy, and the Kazakhstan in the film has nothing to do with the real country,” he said. “The real Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a modern, proud society–the opposite of Borat’s version.”
Both Borat and its 2020 sequel use the fake-Kazakh character to reveal the ugliness of America, but that hasn’t stopped Kazakhstan’s residents from despising the fact that the film serves as many foreigners’ only image of their country. Hopefully they can gain some tourist dollars from the film’s infamy, at least.