I’ve been to Romania several years ago…taxi rides from the airport to the hotel were an adventure at the least. I clearly remember I was completely freaked out when a fat guy in a stained shirt with a toothpick in the corner of his mouth took me on a most nerve wrecking ride of my life. We went through building sites and unfinished roads and I already saw myself dumped in the bush in Bucharest (not Budapest) outskirts. Yet, I am still alive and always remember this trip fondly. I met some great people (including the mass murdered taxi driver, who was actually a super friendly guy who just didn’t speak much English, and had tasty food, I’ve been to surreal bars and however sad Bucharest may have looked in places, it had grand style. I’ve in fact not been that impressed anywhere else. From enormous buildings and wide boulevards, or a tiny wooden church in the middle of the city with a priest smiling and waving at me seeing I am taking a photo to a shocking sight of a dead stray dog on the side of the road.
Many things have changed now, of course…I am seeing more and more talk about re-branding Romania. Some pretty determined and passionate people have taken things in their own hands, and it is a pleasure to follow their efforts and support the cause quietly from my little corner of the world, which is non less than Budapest the city notoriously and regularly mistaken for Bucharest.
Ioana Negulescu a.k.a The Happyholic is a graphic designer or Graphic-Designerd as she likes to call herself. She is the person behing the facebook page Romanianology and the “Discover the Mania in RO+MANIA” campaign. She was the first person to start a re-branding campaign like this as a single person, not an agency. She IS the one who decided people need to know Romania is not just about beautiful wild nature and crazy legends, but that it is a THE place to be. By creating a series of super funny prints she tells you the opposite of what you would expect a promo poster to say. They say: DON’T COME TO ROMANIA!…if you don’t want to have the time of your life.
The newest campaign on the block, based on the geographical confusion between Budapest and Bucharest seen on the print at the beginning of this post, is one by ROM, the national chocolate bar of Romania. Two years ago chocolate brand Rom genious campaign which Americanized the packaging and played on the Romanian’s national pride won a Grand Prix at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. It seems it wasn’t enough though, because just this week Rom launched a new campaign, which sets out to straighten out the confusion between Budapest and Bucharest…all the way.
First see to video, it is funny:
But it doesn’t end there. There are T-shirt collections (and totally cool ones I must say)
Both Bucharest and Budapest got new welcome signs
A billboard set up as a special and gentle reminder to Bruce of Iron Maiden before their gig in Bucharest just a couple of days ago was hilarious.
Their sense of humor was confirmed soon after they realized there is a typo in bucharestnotbudapTest.com when they quickly created this
And if after all of this you feel you might forget that Bucharest is NOT Budapest, there is an add on you can install that will add ‘not Budapest’ extension to all Bucharest instances on the internet. Your wikipedia Bucharest entry will then look like this
In case you have not realized by now, Romanians are smart:) See for yourself (again)!
If nothing else, you have to give credit to Romanians for their sense of humor. And as if the above mentioned weren’t enough to prove it to you, gandul.info (The Thought) launched a “Why don’t you come over?” campaign as a response to British “Don’t come to UK” campaign, aimed at Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who want to live and work in the UK. “We may not like Britain, but you will love Romania. Why don’t you come over?” is the tagline of the campaign. It was a zero Euro budget campaign and ” it was a perfect example of a brand (Romania) understanding that part of its national personality (scrappiness and street smarts) could find an expression in this humorous assault on British insular self-sufficiency.” (John McNeal, Don’t Mess With Romania)
And then, after all the smart and creative Romanians and humorous marketing campaigns, there is Yvette Larsson of The Bucharest Lounge. If you start to talk about re-branding Romania you can not leave her out. Yvette is Swedish and in love with Romania. She says: ”With the Bucharest Lounge I ‘d like to put Bucharest on the European map. I’d like to see Bucharest as a city, to stand tall and proud, not to be mistaken for Budapest and I would also like for the world outside Romania’s border to get to know the landmarks of Bucharest. Face it. Very few know about Romanian landmarks except for the Romanians themselves. I would like to see campaigns from the advertising industry that are stating a clear and inviting identity of Bucharest. The days to refer to Bucharest as “ Little Paris” are gone. Bucharest is in itself a unique being, with its own landmarks, history, abundance of culture which is to be seen and experienced in architecture, folklore, the music scene, literature, art, and more.” Following her facebook page, talking to her and seeing her enthusiasm, you’d never ever believe her connection to Bucharest and Romania is purely emotional, meaning that she has no Romanian roots.
If you are in Bucharest, there is a Bucharest Lounge meetup today, I am sure Yvette will be happy to see you.
So, what is your next trip? Any chance you might give Romania a go?