A Borat Premier & Searching for Borat

“I have never heard you laugh that hard before,” my wife of seven years said to me as we left a Traverse City Film Festival showing of the film Borat last Sunday, August 6, 2006 at two o’clock in the morning.

She was right, and I couldn’t remember laughing that hard either. At one point during the film I was laughing so hard I literally couldn’t relax my torso enough to get my behind back down into my seat. I was holding on to the arms of my theatre chair for dear life as every piece of me spasmed with laughter. Even through the pain I couldn’t look away. I wasn’t alone. It seemed the whole audience felt the same way. Did I mention Borat is a funny film?

I am always looking for tie-ins between my social life and my work life as Director of Client Services at an online marketing firm. In this case I wanted to jump on my bicycle to get right home and hit the search engines to see what people are saying about Borat.

In only its second year the Traverse City Film Festival has become a great success. While dozens of films were shown this year, likely none will be remembered like Borat. The full name of the movie is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. One of the reasons Borat had such a big impact in Traverse City (TC), is that the film has not been officially released yet. In fact its official premier isn’t until next month in Toronto. The national release may not be until November. The film is also a bit controversial because of the comic nature of Sacha Baron Cohen the film’s star. Cohen plays a character named Borat Sagdiyev. Borat is a journalist from Kazakhstan. He leaves his home country to travel to the United States to do a series of reports to help the people of Kazakhstan understand American life. Along the way he unwittingly offends just about everyone. Much of the laughter from the audience in TC may have been due to the shock people felt from the zany things the character did during the film.

When I went to the search engines to find out more about the film there wasn’t much to be had. A few sites mentioned that they now have the trailer available for viewing. A couple of articles surfaced that mention the film playing at the TC Film Fest. I wasn’t able to find much about any of the rumored controversies that buzzed amongst the festival goers last week. There were no reviews that I could find. This is probably because barely anyone has seen the film.

I even went to Google Kazakhstan. Yes, Google Kazakhstan at Google.kz. I typed in Borat and looked for pages only from Kazakhstan. I did find a few negative comments in the pages I could read in English. I didn’t spend time with the non-english pages. Overall not much out there.

How exciting. To be part of a cultural phenomenon before it becomes a phenomenon. I realized that by writing this blog, I would likely get hundreds if not thousands or tens of thousands of readers directly from search engine results pages. Count yourself among them now. There are several reasons this page appears well in the search results for the keyword Borat (at least for now). I don’t want to go into detail here about how search engine optimization works, just point out that is does work. This blog also exemplifies the power that blogs can have on influencing public opinion in the information age.

On my bike ride home from Borat I wondered what people were saying online about the movie. Little did I know then that my own curiosity and initiative would make me a big part of that process. Remember folks, if you want to drive traffic to your website from the search engines, you need to provide relevant content that the search engines can find and index. You need to talk about something that people are searching for. And it certainly helps if you’re one of the first ones to start the buzz.