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Press Like for Bulgaria in order to love it!

БНР Новини
Photo: Veneta Nikolova

As much as we hate to admit it, it is a fact! We, Bulgarians, do not know how to present a good face to the world. Then we should not be surprised that at best foreigners associate this country with the Black Sea, skiing in Borovets, Rila Monastery, yoghurt and Hristo Stoichkov.

It seems that a few sporadic advertising campaigns of brand Bulgaria as a holiday destination abroad have not yielded any desirable results. Many people continue to associate their notions about the country with the ​​notorious "Bulgarian umbrella", the so-called "Bulgarian connection" in the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II, but also with alcohol tourism, corruption, gangsters, Roma Gypsies ... Bulgaria is much more than that! The question is how to say that to the world.

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In any case, this won’t happen through the institutions assigned with this creative task that requires plenty of imagination and a strong sense of measure. Starting from advertising videos affirming painfully familiar tourist clichés all the way to the inadequately designed national tourist logo, this country seems stuck in an image trap that it cannot undo. In the meantime, bureaucracy and the lack of accountability factor in the picture as well.

Suffice it to recall the latest project for Bulgaria’s logo and slogan that crashed and burned in a major row for corruption more than a year ago. Back then an attempt was made to replace the familiar yellow-orange simulacrum of the sun or a rose depicted everywhere in leaflets and banners. A team of "creatives" invented an absurd medley of bizarre stylized figures that had to focus on various travel experiences here. For the purpose, 1.4 million lev has been spent from the Regional Development Operational Programme of the European Union. The sad story behind this is that this amount could have been utilized for far more appropriate targets. The problem is that the country lacks a unified vision for promoting brand Bulgaria abroad. It's not only about our tourist advertising, but also about the overall image of the country.

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But how should we present the multifaceted Bulgarian identity abroad in a modern, accessible, comprehensive way devoid of clichés and false pathos? The solution has not come from highly paid foreign consultants or from local companies who have won public procurement tenders. Rather, it has come from a team of young Bulgarian designers who have been living in Berlin for years and have devoted all their creative energy to this challenging project.The result is more than promising. Without any financial support from the government, their project Like Bulgaria has succeeded for only one year in reaching 3 million Internet users from all parts of the world and has won them for the cause of Bulgaria.

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Nikolai Tonkov, Olga Kovgan and Rumyana Alexandrova have designed their own logo of the country and have uploaded it on Facebook. As soon as they launched it for the first time displayed the word BULGAR1A in a circle on a green background, the symbol collected so many likes that the enthusiasts decided to create a dedicated website about Bulgaria. In it they present its nature, history, culture and Bulgaria’s most famous people showing photos from absolutely fantastic, but in most cases little known places or of a few celebrated Bulgarian artists and athletes. These images are often accompanied by playful captions such as Only Bulgarian chickens lay colored eggs, a 200 m long beach to play Frisbee, and The Real Lord Of The Rings /dedicated to Bulgaria’s Olympic champion in rings, gymnast Yordan Iovchev / and other funny ideas that won’t leave anybody indifferent.

The Like button attached to them promotes the mass distribution of the messages across the internet and has reached even the remotest parts of the planet. Simple but effective! „People need to connect Bulgaria with something positive, to see beautiful things, so that they could instantly like the country and why not put it in their plans for future holidays”, says Rumyana Alexandrova and adds:

"We want to show not only the things that are usually involved in advertising Bulgaria, but most of all that we have cultural tourism, traditions and countless alternatives for sports. After all, our national advertising has many flaws, and our goal is for people to understand that we can offer much more than a delicious Shoppe salad, some good brandy and the sea. In short, we aim to present Bulgaria as a modern country for young people."

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It seems that the volunteers from the Like Bulgaria project are about to guess the right approach to improving Bulgaria’s international image. In the meantime, the public institutions assigned with the same task could learn a lesson from them or support them. In this way, apart from the standard all-inclusive packages, cheap alcohol and bar crawling organized in local resorts for just peanuts, Bulgaria could finally become known with its millennial history, magnificent scenery and most of all - with its undisputed contribution to European culture.

English version: Daniela Konstantinova

Photos: Veneta Nikolova


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