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In a light-hearted response to British fears of mass immigration from Romania next year, a newspaper has launched a campaign inviting British people to come to Romania instead.
“Half of our women look like Kate. The other half like her sister.” Kate, of course, is Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge - but the idea is that Romanian women are all as good-looking as she is.
The message forms part of a Romanian media campaign called “Why Don’t You Come Over?", launched by the daily newspaper Gandul in response to British fears of large-scale Romanian immigration to the UK once the remaining restrictions on working in Britain expire at the end of the year.
The newspaper features a series of adverts, such as “Charles bought a house here in 2005," Tthe Prince of Wales is a known fan of Transylvania and has property there], and, “We speak better English than anywhere you’ve been in France.”
Another says: “Our draft beer is less expensive than your bottled water,” while yet another makes a reference to the hugely popular UK car programme, Top Gear, whose presenter said a mountain route in the Carpathians was the “best road in the world”.
Each advertisement has the slogan: “We may not like Britain, but you will love Romania.”
Many Romanians have backed the campaign on the newspaper's Facebook page. "Ceausescu went to London in 1978. He came back shortly", one reader writes, recalling the former Communist dictator's London state visit.
Mihai Gongu, a creative director at a Romanian advertising agency, says he proposed the campaign as a humorous response to the many lurid articles on Romanians in the British press, “which build on the idea that Romanians are the No 1 problem”.
The media in the UK has certainly taken to the subject with relish, gleefully reporting on the differences between welfare benefits in the UK and Romania and carrying interviews with unnamed, generic-sounding Romanians, who invariably say they can't wait to come to Britian and go on welfare.
Few point out that most Romanians who want to come to Britain are probably already there, as the labour restrictions are far from impossible to get round.
British officials, reluctant to go against the drift of the public conversation, have done little or nothing to counter crude negative stereotyping of Romanians.
Early this week, the British media reported that ministers are considering running a negative advertising campaign that would dissuade Romanian and Bulgarian would-be migrants from heading to the UK.
“The negative campaign would correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold, while also focusing on the downside of life in the UK, majoring on the changeable weather,” Britain's Daily Telegraph reported.
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