“Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”, a comic movie launched in Autumn 2006 in which a British humorist caricatures a Kazakh character, raises a whole series of questions on how foreigners see this people. But warped cross-cultural prejudices are not just limited to the two countries.

Indeed, on an ever more complex global scale, diplomatic relations are paramount . This must be the reason why public-relations companies specialized in improving the image of a given nation are currently thriving, as the examples of both Russia and the United States illustrate.

For all their knowledge of advertising, specialists nevertheless often face difficulties in transforming the common perception of countries. Since a country is not commercial product, national branding mostly results in a hit-or-miss approach, where they have to fight against long-established stereotypes and real historical records.

Eager as countries may be to invest money in such companies, the effective result mostly derives from sheer luck.

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"National branding: A new sort of beauty contest", The Economist, Nov 9th 2006

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