30 Jan 2013

Come to Romania! Our women look like Kate

The beer is cheaper, our women are hotter, and we’ve never photographed Harry naked – Romania cheekily hits back at the rumoured UK campaign to deter Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants.

Romania hits back over anti-UK adverts (screengrab)

At first, it sounded like a spoof. Was the UK government really considering launching a negative advert campaign to put off potential Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants from coming to Britain?

The government’s staying tight-lipped about its plans – which has allowed us all to have our fun. At Channel 4 News, we imagined what such an advert might look like, and you sent in your suggestions for how to, as one minister apparently put it, “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold”.

They ranged from “Morris dancers” to the warning that, if you come to Britain, you should be prepared for the eventuality that “Katie Price will probably marry you at some point”.

The adverts are reportedly an attempt by the government to head off a potential influx of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria when rules are relaxed next year.

We may not like Britain…

But in Romania, they have gone one better. No doubt a little put out by the suggestion that Britain is so much better than their native land that they will need anti-UK propaganda to prevent the entire population instantly fleeing, the newspaper Gandul has hit back, launching its own campaign to bring Brits to Romania.

The Romanian adverts from Gandul (screengrab)

“Our draft beer is less expensive than your bottled water,” reads one of the adverts, put together by Romanian advertising firm GMP.

“We serve more food groups than pie, sausage, fish & chips,” reads another.

Mihai Gongu, creative director of GMP who came up with the ads alongside senior art director Alina Zaharescu, said the campaign was meant in a “friendly spirit”.

“We have grown quite familiar with negative publicity directed against us – not necessarily from the UK, it used to come from other parts of Europe,” he told Channel 4 News.

“We were amused, and most importantly we felt inspired.”

He said the adverts were intended to be humorous.

We tried our hand at British humour. Mihai Gongu, from Romanian ad agency GMP

“We tried our hand at British humour and, like with all things in the beginning, we probably didn’t get everything right. Some of the messages are also self-ironic, addressed at us, Romanians.

“But the invitation is sincere. If you come over to Romania you will see beautiful places, meet wonderful people and, most importantly, get rid of some of the nuisances back home in the UK. What better argument to convince you that we will not head for the UK in our hundreds of thousands when the labour borders open?” he said.

“We’d love for this to become a dialogue between the two people – the British and Romanians, relaxed and humorous. We’ll chat and eventually meet anyway – whether it’s at your place, or – as we suggest it – ours.”


Other people have fought back on Twitter with the hashtag #avoidbritain.

“KFC UK does NOT deliver,” wrote @molkircho, in a line which could convince many fried chicken fans that Romania is far superior to the UK.

Bulgarian student Yuliya Kosharevska, who lives in Bristol, told Channel 4 News she agreed with the new advert, “although its goal is just to mock the immature plans of the British politicians.”

She added: “As a matter of fact, there are plenty of Brits doing business in Bulgaria already. In the end, isn’t this the point of the EU, the globalisation and the peace, people being able to decide alone where they want to live without any governments interfering?”

A noble point – although for those who are beginning to see Bulgaria and Romania as havens full of accepting, hilarious, welcoming people, perhaps a stronger one has been made on Twitter by Maria Angelova.

Why stay in the UK when it can – at least in January – be so pithily summed up in two words, as Maria did: “Cold, and drunk.”

Why stay in Britain? Romania is better - according to the tongue-in-cheek adverts (screengrab)