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This blog celebrates the singularities and unexpected revelations of the Balkans. That is on the good days. Other times there is just news from the 'industry' and my opinions on it.

Macedonia's New CNN Tourism Ad Gets Domestic Criticism

December 26, 2008 • Comments Macedonia

Macedonia's latest tourism ad for CNN and other international television networks was officially presented at an event on Wednesday at Skopje's Museum of Contemporary Art. It began running on Christmas; in fact, I saw the first one at 12:05AM on CNN.

The spot cost the government 190,000 euros just to create and untold millions more for broadcasting between now and April. It was made by the eminent Macedonian filmmaker Milcho Manchevski.

It is accompanied by a website, which was reportedly created only 2 weeks ago or so, because the director insisted on it. When Macedonia released its first CNN ad three years ago or so, it was criticised for not having any website stated on the clip. A repeat of the problem has thus been avoided with the new website, Macedonia Timeless, but there seems to be no clear specific direction or focus for either the video or the website, as can readily be seen.

The knives were out immediately from domestic critics. Articles such as this one from AI TV capture criticisms of apparent blemishes: reflectors from the filming appearing in a scene in Veles (the director replied that they were 'intentionally' put there) and of the light not seeming to strike the correct side of one character, compared to the position of the sun. Reader comments complained of other issues, such as Albanians complaining that there was no image of a mosque in it. Indeed, considering that they would like to get more tourists from Turkey, not mentioning the country's rich Ottoman heritage seems somewhat odd.

However, the most troubling criticism was the uncanny resemblance in theme (a magical book illustrating a country), tone and use of nationalistic symbol with a previous clip created by the Republic of Georgia. The director stated he had not seen that clip. Either eventuality (deliberate plagiarism or studious ignorance) does not bode well for the country's professionalism and (lack of) market research.

AI put the two videos side-by-side so that they can be compared- see them here.

The government has announced that the video spot will run in several languages and countries and be accompanied by several more on related themes in what will amount to a very large expenditure of state advertising funds. A businessman in Skopje told me today that the general tenor of the campaign was akin to 'firing a cannon blindly, when we should be using a laser on the specific markets to be attracted.'

Anyway, we will see.


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Christopher Deliso

Christopher Deliso

Chris is an American travel writer and journalist, author of travel guides on the Balkans for Lonely Planet, and travel articles for Travel Intelligence and Hidden Europe Magazine. He is the director of the Balkan news website