A film launch, the River Thames and Borat wearing a facemask as a thong

A film launch, the River Thames and Borat wearing a facemask as a thong

The Background

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ll probably already be aware that Borat is back.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakh creation, who first took the world by storm back in 2006, has already attracted more than his fair share of attention and controversy in recent weeks thanks to a run-in with Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

So, to announce their exclusive rights to his latest movie, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Amazon channelled the spirit of Central Asia’s top self-publicist.

The Big Idea

It’s the trope that has become a millstone around the neck of a whole industry. 

The one they warned you about on your first day. 

The one some agencies and creatives proudly claim they’ve ‘never had to resort to’.

They floated it down the Thames.

What They Did

Early on 22nd October, PR Whatsapp threads across Britain began to light up with rumours that someone had only gone and done ‘it’.

Sure enough, later in the day, the stunt revealed itself. Sporting an over-stretched facemask in place of a mankini, adopting a seductive, wide-legged stance and toting his trademark thumbs-up, an over-sized, inflatable Borat made its way past Tower Bridge and along the river before docking up for a round of selfies.

Pictures were quickly beamed to the world’s media. Whether any other carefully-planned campaign elements took place I have no idea – by now, the damage was done.

Within hours, it felt like the whole country had seen it, had a little laugh, and quickly moved on with their lives.

The Review

While you may have thought the return of big, brash and stupid PR stunts would be welcomed with open arms, much of the industry response was quite the opposite.

This smacks of navel-gazing to me.

Outside of agency-land, no one knows or cares what a ‘trope’ is. They don’t study every element of a campaign for signs of plagiarism or creative influence. They care not a jot if someone else has done it before.

I would argue this campaign gives ‘the public’ a little bit of what they need right now. 

Some light relief. A momentary chuckle. A glimpse of a man wearing a facemask as a thong before they scroll on through the everyday hellscape of their Twitter feed.

It may not live long in the memory. But it’s done its job nobly.

In Hindsight

This is neither the time nor the place to get into a debate about whether this campaign is ‘meta’. But… this is Meta!

For if Borat had helmed the brainstorms himself, this is exactly the kind of ludicrous undertaking he’d have pitched to the client and somehow managed to get signed-off.

It may well have been the very first idea on the table. Sometimes the first idea is the best.

4 stars (very nice!).

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