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2 Feb, 2013 11:52

Awful weather, poor cuisine: Romanian newspaper launches prank anti-UK ad campaign

Public fears in the UK over mass immigration by Eastern Europeans has prompted a peculiar response from Romania: One newspaper published a series of ads playing on British cultural stereotypes, and saying why people should move to Romania instead.

“Our draft beer is less expensive than your bottled water,” one of the ads proudly states, hinting at the high costs of living in the UK.  Another ad made fun of British cuisine: “We serve more food groups than pies, sausage, fish and chips.”Other ads touched upon politics, weather and even women: "Half of our women look like Kate. The other half, like her sister."The 'Why don`t you come over?' ad campaign was designed by the online Romanian newspaper Gandul and GMP Advertising firm in response to numerous reports in the British media about a possible government initiative to launch a negative ad campaign discouraging Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to work in Britain."I wouldn’t say we were deeply offended by the British initiative, but we felt it deserved an answer that tackles this ridiculous fear of us invading the UK. The solution was to turn this [false] problem on its head and invite the British to invade us instead,” said Mihai Gongu, Creative Director at GMP Advertising.Gandul added that the campaign is also a sincere call for British people to visit Romania and to see that “Romania is a much better country and Romanians a more decent people than the negative image painted by some recent stories in British and international media.”

Romanians welcomed the ads with widespread enthusiasm, and quickly began to design their own posters with a special application launched by the newspaper. Gandul's prank campaign comes amid hype in the British media predicting that hundreds of thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians will come to the UK for work after immigration restrictions are lifted at the end of the year. Some of the government measures circulated by the media included an advertising campaign painting a negative portrait of the island in order to decrease the number of immigrants.Official responses were lessplacid. Titus Corlatean, Romania’s foreign minister told Sunday’s Observer that potential measures against Romanian immigrants’ working rights in the UK had caused “serious concerns” in the east European country. The British ambassador to Romania was summoned to Bucharest on Friday for a meeting with the minister for Romanians abroad, Cristian David, to discuss immigration in a “balanced and rational way.”Mark Harper, the UK’s immigration minister, had previously suggested the possibility of restricting access to the NHS for some Romanians in Britain – a topic which was also a high priority in Friday’s meeting.“Once you are in a space, you cannot have limited rights. If you start limiting health, why not limit other public services?” said David. Further meetings will be held in an attempt to resolve the problem. The UK has also recently introduced changes to the citizenship test. The ‘Life in the United Kingdom’ test and handbook are aimed at immigrants who want to settle permanently in the UK. The test will now include many cultural questions, while overlooking a lot of practical issues.