Saturday, September 16, 2006

“Borat” – 1 Nazarbayev – 0?: The PR battle continues

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In August, I had posted a brief piece on the inevitable conflict between the PR of Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev’s trip to the U.S. on September 29 and the upcoming “Borat” film that is scheduled to open in early November. Since that time, it seems that the publicists of “Borat” have begun to pick up on this issue and are exploiting it. Recently, a string of articles in Hollywood-style PR tabloids have spun the conflict between Nazarbayev’s trip to the U.S. and the opening of the “Borat” movie in such a way that it makes it sound as if Nazarbayev had planned his meeting with President Bush explicitly to address his concerns about “Borat.” Now, the Borat publicists have begun to sink their teeth into their competitor’s work. A new article in the U.K newspaper “The Daily Mail” mocks a recently published PR piece placed by the Kazakhstan Government in the journal Foreign Affairs. In particular, the newspaper dismisses the Foreign Affairs insert’s assertions of Kazakhstan’s “evolutionary democracy.” The other target of “The Daily Mail” is the spokesperson for the Kazkahstan embassy in the U.S., Roman Vassilenko, whose words criticizing the “Borat” character are mocked extensively in the article. Perhaps the Kazakhstan government needs to hire a Hollywood PR firm to deal with the likes of “Borat”; not a beltway consulting group. I would have to say, however, that Mr. Vassilenko from the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington is starting to understand what he is up against a little better. One of his replies to the “Borat” image of Kazakhstan that is cited by the Daily Mail is allegedly the following media soundbite.

"Kazakhstan really is a special kind of 'stan and people need to know that; It's a different 'stan." That might not beat the publicists of “Borat,” but it is a start.


Anonymous Nomad said...

I am a new reader of your blog. Originally, I am from Kazakhstan. Now studying in the US. Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your perspective and knowledge about Kazakhstan.

3:23 AM  
Blogger Sean R. Roberts, PhD said...


I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. Please feel free to weigh in with your own opinions anytime you like.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Dolkun said...


Great addition to the Blogosphere, but FYI, your blog only shows the time, not the date of postings, unless I'm missing something.

Overly sensitive, playing right into Sasha Cohen's hands, and hurting Kaz's reputation worse than Borat ever could? Sure, but from what I've seen, this is the people talking, not just the government.

Personally I think Cohen's genius, but the fact is that regular people in Kazakhstan find him highly offensive. So while we can criticize the MFA for playing into Borat's hands, this may actually be a case where government policy is closely aligned with the word on street.

The fact that the only thing Kazakhstan did to deserve this was to be a real country yet unknown enough to provide the setting for Borat ... and if you remember, the terrorists on "Air Force One," and the mysterious oil interests in the second season of 24 is somehow missed by the locals.

Maybe this will serve as an example to the other victims of Cohen's humor. Gay German journalists, unite!

4:00 AM  

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