Song of Country

I love a bit of pop culture branding. I love what pop culture says about brands, and more importantly, the way that PEOPLE engage with brands. I guess this is why blogging and the Web 2.0 intersection interests me, because Web 2.0 is about DOING things with brands. It is about bringing brands to life in ways that show the playful side of life.

CK has a great post on Borat — one of the funniest creations of the inimitable Sacha Baron Cohen (ok let’s face it, who WANTS to imitate him) — and the way that the character has single-handedly raised the awareness of Khazakstan as a country. It is interesting example, because, undoubtedly, there is something distasteful in the Borat character (understatement) … but to have Borat making the agenda for Khazakstan’s President Nazarbayev’s upcoming meeting with President George W Bush shows the power of comedy. And in a way, it shows how to engage an audience.

And while I don’t know that you would want to "take one for the team" — especially Borat style … there is a real opportunity to build on the awareness that Borat has built. In building an audience, the challenge in moving from "awareness" to "postive perception" is about getting your story across. There is a supreme opportunity for Khazakstan to EMBRACE the Borat character … I am seeing a whole series of "come and meet my family" advertisements ("meet my sister …", "my cousin loves your country, listen to him sing your song of country", "this is my cow …"). Is that going to resonate with an audience? Is it going to build buzz? Absolutely … and it would be fun!

Just don’t let Borat feature in an ad for beachwear (see CK’s article and you will know what I mean!)


4 thoughts on “Song of Country

  1. Glad you liked the post, thanks so much. How can you not love this goofy guy? I can understand it’s tough for Kazakhstan, but the fact is…Borat has given them a real opportunity to build on the awareness. Yet they see it as only crisis.
    If they’ll be good sports then they can leave a lasting impression–rather than confer with Bush about improving their image (huh? he’s the last guy you want image advice from!). And running educational spots will only serve to make a true mockery of their country.
    I guess where we see opportunity, they see crisis. I LOVE your ideas for their ad campaign…and you must check out the parody site (
    I urge them to run ads imploring “Come and Meet My Country…It’s Nice!”.
    Also Ann had a great point…Borat/Cohen prove that Dumb is the new Smart. So wise up Kazakhstan. You’ll be better for it :-).

  2. It’s just scary the way that we are all thinking along the same lines….! I hadn’t seen your post til just now, Gavin, yet I blogged about Borat today, too. I think the opportunity here is as I said: humor goes a long way to stir interest in an otherwise disengaged community. So why not embrace it?
    And I love the “come and meet the family” — perhaps with a tag line, “we are strong breeders!” idea for a campaign. : )

  3. CK … I love the way you are bringing this edgy pop-cultural element into your branding discussions/articles (I am sure your clients love it too!).
    Ann … it’s great to see the way that the zeitgeist works! I have loved the Ali G show and characters for some time, especially the way that it provides some identification and social engagement for the disaffected communities you mention. Perhaps humour is one of the ways for us all to find common humanity.
    Humour is always a challenge for brands … what works for some doesn’t work for others, but established (and resonating) characters and properties take away some of that risk. And where the comedic essence and brand spirit align, the effect can be beneficial to both.

  4. A beautiful line: “Perhaps humour is one of the ways for us all to find common humanity.”
    I have saved it. I will quote you when I use it so that’s why your nose will itch and ears will ring.

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