The movie Borat premiered more than a decade ago, and even as Kazakhstan prepares to host EXPO-2017, one of the world’s biggest events on sustainable energy, there are Americans who can’t seem to forget the character Borat and continue to equate him and his shenanigans with the Republic of Kazakhstan.
“Sadly, many Americans have the wrong impression of Kazakhstan. They think the country is poor, behind the times, intolerant and a big joke,” says Glenn Selig, founder and chief strategist at the global PR firm The Publicity Agency. “The film is basically fiction but for whatever reason the impression of Kazakhstan stuck.”
As a result of the movie, interest and awareness of the country has increased over the years, but not necessarily in a good way.
Mr. Selig says he recently visited Kazakhstan on business and because he was so struck by the contrast of what the country is versus what many Americans think it is, he felt compelled to do something about it.
“It was so absurdly different than what the country really is,” says Selig.
The Republic of Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, is a thriving country. The economy is the largest of all the Central Asian states.
Mr. Selig and his team came up with the image campaign, and Mr. Selig even sent a letter to Erlan Idrissov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, advising the minister of his Kazakhstan experience and his intentions.
“I have freshly returned from a business trip to Kazakhstan, where I witnessed the intrinsic beauty of your country and experienced firsthand the warm and welcoming nature of the Kazakh people,” Mr. Selig writes in the letter to Erlan Idrissov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. “It was a profound experience that presented in such stark contrast to the image I had conjured in my mind of Kazakhstan.”
Kazakhstan is not only not stuck in the past. It’s looking toward the future. Kazakhstan will play host to ASTANA EXPO-2017 next summer—an event that’s expected to attract more than 100 countries around the world to focus on innovation and sustainable energy.
“Expo 2017 is about how the world can make use of energy resources more efficiently and less damagingly,” says Yerbol Shormanov, Deputy Chairman of Astana 2017. “It will showcase the most efficient energy technologies of the future and make a compelling case for how and why they should be adopted globally.”
Expo 2017 has received little or no exposure in the United States and North America. To this day, when thinking of Kazakhstan, most Americans still picture rural towns, transportation on mules, and a poor economy.
“The minute I stepped foot in Kazakhstan I knew this needed to change,” says Mr. Selig, who is frequently quoted in the top U.S. and world news outlets for his public relations commentary. “It was so obvious to me and I knew I wanted to help the country take a big step toward dispelling the image.”
Mr. Selig says the mini public relations campaign is intended to finally undo some of the damage that lingers from Borat. It is called KazakhSTANDING STRONG.
“In our research we have found that the country has tried to shake the image in the past but has not succeeded,” says Mr. Selig. “I wanted to show the Republic of Kazakhstan that it is possible.”
Mr. Selig says the social video and content marketing campaign will begin this month.
“I hope it will go a long way to change people’s minds about the Republic of Kazakhstan. It’s really a beautiful, rich and progressive country.”
For information, and to follow the progression of the KazakhSTANDING STRONG campaign, please visit http://thepublicityagency.com/kazakhstanding-strong/.
SOURCE: The Publicity Agency
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