Keep calm and move to Romania: British ad campaign backfires despite Government efforts

The UK government’s recently proposed strategy to discourage a new influx of eastern European immigrants has made some Romanians respond with a counter-attack, prompting a diplomatic row between the two countries

Romanian online mag has launched a pro-Romanian counter-offensive

In one of the latest attempts to make the country look worse than it actually is, the far right of the Tory-led coalition government allegedly proposed drastic measures in dissuading potential incoming eastern European immigrants from descending on Britain’s once gold-paved roads of chips, drizzle and rocknroll. As local media reports, the proposed negative ad campaign would “focus on the downside of life in the U.K” including the infamous weather conditions, social welfare cuts and lack of job prospects.

The restrictions preventing some 30 million Romanians and Bulgarians as nationals of the newly accessed EU states to live and work in the UK is set to expire in January 2014, prompting fears within the more patriotic circles of the British government that the country might experience another immigration inferno after the well-known invasion of the cheap-laboured Polish plumber some ten years earlier.

The left-leaning daily The Guardian responded by calling its readers to design poster images for this potential anti-British campaign. Some of the results were tongue-in-cheek, others perhaps closer to the truth:

Bucharest was quick to hit back. Why don’t you come over? reads the slogan for a pro-Romanian campaign, designed by a local online magazine and aimed exclusively at Brits.

Then the official Bucharest jumped in. Over the weekend, the Romanian foreign minister told The Observer how the British talk of keeping the restrictions for Romanians to live and work in the UK had caused “serious concerns”. Likewise, the Romanian ambassador to the UK diplomatically expressed his regrets that “Romanians and Bulgarians are in the middle of a game in which they do not belong.”

Bulgarians took it to heart as well. “Keep calm and move to Bulgaria” reads one of the posters. They’ll probably have to do a bit better than that but hey, it’s a nice t-shirt start.

However, what makes the whole conundrum more ludicrous than David Cameron hosting a G8 summit in Transylvania is probably the UK government’s very own worldwide campaign from last year, peculiarly titled – GREAT. Well, it focused on “promoting Britain as one of the best places to visit, live, work, study, invest and do business”. Great, yeah? You can even read about it on the website of the British Embassy in Bucharest.

The reality is that the UK’s latest diplomatic blunder was entirely unnecessary. Most Balkan migrants actually prefer places where they have more cultural and historical links, like Italy and France in the case of Romanians, rather than the British Islands. If anything, the eastern Euros might have imagined those British roads were gold-paved back in the pre-1989 communism era but hardly in the gruesome world of today where anyone with a proximity to the internet knows they are actually paved with chewing gums.

Perhaps this could all end as a stimulating commercially-driven piece of advertising discussion (advercussion?) beneficial to both parties, i.e. Romania gets some free publicity while the Tories can cash in on discouraging the invading Romano-Bulgars who hadn’t previously known about shit weather and lack of employment.

And yet there is only so much a negative campaign can do to discourage the most persistent ones who still dream of British Islands of Trickies, Morrisseys and Dizzy Rascals strolling down those hazy platinum-paved roads where coolness, self-irony and aristocratic allure mix with grit and grime of the working class stoicism, so rest assured you may still be seeing those tracksuit-wearing Bulgaro-Romanians joining the international legions of mercenaries in the UK in the near future, happily taking jobs ordinary Brits wouldn’t do in a lifetime, like cleaning that loo and keeping calm cause shit is at stake.