You want me to do what?

A few months ago, I received a message from a girl who works at an advertising agency here in Riga. The agency was involved in a pitch to make a promotional video for the Latvian Institute about Latvia taking over the Presidency of the European Council in 2015 – and, get this, they wanted ME to be involved. Seemingly, my foreigner’s opinion and insight would be invaluable. Although she didn’t sound like an escaped lunatic, or seem to be on drugs, I re-read the message a couple of times, and Googled the advertising agency and the Latvian Institute to make sure that they did actually exist.

Even though I was still half-convinced that it was some kind of hoax, or potential ambush, my curiosity won out over my common sense – as usual – and I agreed to a meeting. When I got there, it seemed that everyone in the agency had read the blog as they were all grinning at me; I was just happy they weren’t aiming at me. 

The receptionist offered me tea (“with milk, right?”) and I was shown to a meeting room where an intimidating number of people were assembled. One girl broke the ice by saying “Our receptionist just said “You know you’re all going to be in a blog post tomorrow, right?” and I made a mental note not to write a blog post about it – the next day, anyway… 

It had been a long time since I’d been in an advertising agency or had anything to do with brainstorming sessions so I was really nervous that I’d just be sitting there like a lemon with nothing useful to add. But, as it turned out, they were wonderfully open people with lots of ideas and I realised that I really wanted to work with them – and to produce a video that Latvian people could be proud of (but not some cheesy crap – I draw the line at cheesy crap).

When I got home, I sent a message to my friend, telling her that I was alive, that I’d had the meeting and met some really cool people, including some bloke called Eriks. 

Ginta: Oh my god! Eriks Stendzenieks? He’s like THE advertising/PR guru in Latvia! 

Me: Oops. 

I guess you never know who’s reading your blog…

Anyway, I put together some ideas, wrote a short essay on Latvia and fired it off to the charming, ruggedly handsome Eriks. Around a week later, I was informed that the agency had won the pitch – naturally.

So, we got together a few more times, tossed around various concepts, drafted and fine-polished some scripts and eventually came up with the final version. Unfortunately, I was in Berlin while they were filming it, but when they sent me the final video…

I love it. I think the tone is perfect. I like to think that you can hear a little bit of me in there at times, but they’ve managed to strike the perfect balance between Linda and the Latvians. Even though the weather was absolutely awful that week, they’ve still made the country look amazing. And I must admit that I go a little weak at the knees when the actor smiles at the end. I take my hat off to the fine people at Mooz Advertising – it truly was a pleasure to work with all of you and I’m so happy that I had a small part in making this video. While my blog will probably be my main legacy here, I’m happy that I can also say that I had a hand in this.

So please, watch, enjoy, let me know what you think. I’ll carry on cracking coconuts in the meantime…


About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Humor, Humour, Latvia and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

179 Responses to You want me to do what?

  1. I. Loved. It. So cool and well done babe! It’s such a good video and the script is very funny about the food, and the fact that Latvians don’t smile. etc but based on the video alone and the rolling of the stands all over the country, I would visit.
    Very nice indeed. 🙂 🙂

  2. LAMarcom says:

    I LOVED it!

  3. Laura says:

    This video really makes me want to visit Latvia! A great thing to be part of, well done Linda!x

  4. aedoxsey says:

    Excellent video, captures the real essence of Latvia. What a great legacy. Congratulations!!

  5. Maris Ozols. says:

    Ha ha. Him lugging the podium around made me think of Tony Hawks ‘Around Ireland with a fridge’!

  6. Maris Ozols. says:

    Well done Linda? You deserve it. You’ve been like a breath of fresh air to counter the all-pervasive Latvian seriousness.

  7. vizma says:

    Loved it! charming without being cloying. Who knew Ms O’Greidija had a softer side 🙂 It’s definitely a winter ( er, winner)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha ha! Yeah, I try not to let the softer side show too often – can’t have people thinking I’m a big softie really 😉 Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Linda, this was wholly charming and heart-warming. I was born and raised in the US Midwest, and there is a strong resemblance of personalities on the video to those I grew up with. The landscape, the lifestyle and the gentle sense of humor–it makes me just a little homesick for a country I’ve yet to visit.
    Congratulations on you and your team’s hard work. I hope the video will continue to be well-received and well-reguarded!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I hope so too! Obviously, you can’t please everyone but I think we’ve done a pretty good job! Glad you liked it! 🙂 Now you’ll have to visit!

  9. Ilze says:

    Actually I don’t care what your opinion about Latvia and Latvians is. So you don’t care about my opinion about your creative work either, I presume. However, with your blogging you show that you wish to be a public person. So enjoy, here it is — my opinion. Despite the video is not for Latvians, I watched it twice. Nothing to be proud of IMHO. Along with blatant lies about half-year snowing, absolute flatness and some more it is not the first and only attempt to present Latvia as taiga inhabited by weird people (this time with high-speed Internet LOL). Moreover, I really wonder what makes you believe that good English makes someone a better person or even a whole nation better. With one thing I can agree though: narrator’s pronunciation is strange — both times I heard belly dancers following opera singers, but not sure he really meant that. And for the next time you will wish to do something good for poor Latvians, please think twice does the collaboration with state structures and enterprises constantly winning competitions is the best way to do this for an independent blogger.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oh well – guess you can’t please everyone! But you’re entitled to your opinion!

    • Mārtiņs says:

      Ilze, I do not think Linda is to be blamed the most in the final product. Was she the author of the whole concept?

      • Mārtiņs says:

        But the idea to attract somebody to look from another countries perspective is valuable. We do not notice many things. Cannot compare ’cause too much of daily routine just goes without saying.
        I can say I like British conservatism, national pride and independence – they still have pounds! Their common law, case law system (especially in the States) seems absurd and undemocratic. But would they be criticising it if they lived with it all their lives? They’re raised on it.
        So there are plenty of things we even do not notice or pay attention to. So pointing out uniqueness, differences, comparison by someone from somewhere might give you a better understanding of who you are.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Maybe she likes Eriks and doesn’t want to blame him 😉

  10. Kristine says:

    Love it! I can definitely hear the “Linda” in some places 😀

  11. Diana says:

    Linda! Great job! This must have been such a fun project! I loved the part where he was on the “waterfall.” Again…congrats!

  12. 1. That guy is a spunk. I’m now thinking all Latvian men are exactly like him. 2. I now want to go to Latvia. Is that weird?! 3. WELL DONE!

  13. Mārtiņs says:

    What is the aim of making that video? To attract tourists? To inform that we are taking the never-ending the EU Presidency? Or just to say “hey! there is a country called Latvia!” Did you know it?

    These video are all alike. Polished, HD filmed, a bit of shy boasting (we are unique (come on, show me a country who isn’t)).

    I can conclude there is no life in it. Too formal. No dialogue, real-life plot or situation. Just at the end the handsome male says “welcome”.
    I’d create something flashing, more self irony, sketch, fragment of an interview from an accidentally met person (for instance – and event and how did it feel, a local point of view), a tourist telling about impressions of Latvia but at the end he was in Lithuania; something showing how the life goes by. Crises in parliament? Crises in the EU? Latvian politicians coming. EU get ready to another success story in 2015. We can fix anything. I’d offer something like that.
    This one doesn’t stand out. We had it before. Boring and predictable.

    I’d rather visit Germany after seeing this than go to Birch sap Amber-land near the sea.

    I did a research. Yeah, true. Most of the country official promotional ads are quite the same and does not arise any interest, neither tell anything (or vice versa too much of everything in one video) about a country or people.
    This was different a bit, nevertheless something else being advertised.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Hi Martins, the purpose of it was to introduce Latvia to the rest of Europe as the future head of the EU council. I know that a lot of these videos are very samey but I do feel that this one has an added charm to it. It’s a step up from a pianist standing in a field saying ‘lauki, lauki’ anyway 😉

      • Mārtiņs says:

        True. Pianist idea was to tell that we have lauki? My wild guess.
        About the video – I see (and like) your contribution – birch sap, smiling, and probably sauna. And most probably something I didn’t notice. In short – I appreciate the contribution on your side but I do not like the general concept at all.

        I can add one delfi commenter to express to underline my standpoint:

        09.07.2014 20:02
        Kaut kad varētu arī nereklamēties kā īpatņi un pāķi? Nav jau tā, ka nav patiesība, tik vienkārši apnikuši visi šie odainie ezeri, marinēti gurķi un dabā neeksistējošais “dabiskums”. Pagalam vienveidīgas tās reklāmas.

        He says – could we stop representing our selves as weirdos and peasants? It’s not that it’s not true, all these mosquito lakes, pickled cucumbers and non-existing natural naturalism has become boring. Too much alike are all these advertisements.

        We need new ideas! Something metrosexy or at least we need to say – we have city life too. We have been viewed from this perspective, we’ve been drawing the same picture again and again, for too long.

        Maybe nobody gives a shit (pardon) about self-advertising and the country is recognised indirectly – scandals, championship, kung-fu legends, smoke a weed, oktoberfest, tallest buildings, wine drinking culture, support in local film production (actually this works on me by wanting to witness nature in China, vividness in Italy, busy life in New York, stunning women in Brasil… ) That is another story. Not a short time campaign anyway.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ask and you shall receive 😉 This video is just the first installment, focusing on nature and culture. There will be a second one that focuses on business and innovation…

  14. 1WriteWay says:

    I LOVED the video … actually makes me want to go to Latvia (I do like trees). The smile at the end got me too 🙂 I know you say you had only a small part in this, but, really, the video captured pretty much every thing you’ve ever written about in your blog: the forests, the smiling (or lack thereof), the widest waterfall, the internet speed, etc. I think much of you is in this video because it seems very much influenced by your blog, in particular your sense of humor (I cracked up at the parts where they mentioned half the country is forested and then the other about the waterfall). Maybe you’ll be ending your stay on a positive note after all 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yep, it feels that way! From zero to hero 😉 Last November, the country was spitting on me – funny how things turn around! Glad you saw a little bit of ‘me’ in there 🙂

  15. barbedwords says:

    Well, I don’t know what you’ve been moaning about all this time – Latvia looks AMAZING!!! Great job!

  16. linnetmoss says:

    It’s fabulous! My favorite moment is sexy Latvian Man loosening his tie!

  17. Anita says:

    A job well done – thanks to all of you!

  18. pollyheath says:

    How awesome – great work! His accent is adorable.

  19. Zimbabve says:

    I was a bit worried at the beginning of the post, thinking there must be a funny, but somewhat cruel video circulating around, now that you are involved. Leotards, weird Janis-es and lots of misery:D But all the worry was for nothing, great job! This is one of the very few publicity materials that to me as a Latvian and an expat feels both genuine and suitable for foreign audience.

  20. OMG! IT’s Wonderful! I’m going to post it on FB for my American Latvian friends. They’ll no doubt LOVE it!

    So amazing the far reaching effects of your blog Linda! You should be very proud. (I also hope you were well paid!)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, they took care of me 😉
      Thanks for posting it on FB! Did your friends like it??

      • They both loved the video and thanked me. Larisa shared the video. You’re famous girl! Ariana loved it as well. I described you as a fellow blogger we who I’ve become chums with. Arianna posted something like, “Thank God it isn’t that Irish lady who is always making fun of Latvia and saying terrible things! ” Her next post said, “Oh wait! This IS her!”

        I responded saying that you say nice things as well, which is why you were consulted. Silence…

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Yeah, people don’t seem to notice the positive posts – guess it’s easier to dislike me than to admit there’s some truth in what I say!

      • I suspect she’s only read one post. But the Latvia American community is very strong In terms of trying to preserve the culture, which I admire. However, sometimes in those cases, things are adhered to, which maybe could be rethought, just because they have strength in numbers. It’s true of any culture. They are both lovely women who I admire a great deal. I hope Ariana is not offended. I think you’re great.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Nah, I’m sure she’ll be fine! And the video couldn’t really be any more positive without making people feel ill 😉 I was interviewed by a Latvian-Californian magazine today – I made a point of mentioning that any Latvian Americans I’ve met are great at preserving the culture. Guess it depends on how she edits it but I know what I said and it was a positive interview!

      • I think you’re positive. And hell girl, these are your experiences! You don’t go looking for it. You just talk about it.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Exactly! I do seem to have more weird experiences than most though 😉 But hey, it keeps life interesting!

      • Sure does, and your delivery is great.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Thanks! It’s great when people ‘get’ it 🙂

      • Hope you don’t mind me asking. Did you listen to the sound byte on my blog about Mario the Italian stallion?

      • Expat Eye says:

        Um, I’m not sure – when did you publish? I haven’t been around WP that much this week!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Then no 🙂 Yesterday was a bit nuts 😉 I’ll get to it though!

      • No worries. I was just curious. One of the interesting things about coming out is, I’m getting a few readers from Japan and Hong Kong who must have heard my podcasts. Japan has downloaded my interviews the most. It’s just weird to put a voice behind the words.

        I’m a huge fan of an Irish dialect. I’d love to hear the voice of dinner of the people I read.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Soon you’ll be a global superstar 😉 No stopping you! Any negative reaction at all?

      • From your mouth to God’s ear! Nothing negative. Not much reaction at all except from some college friends on fb. I don’t really use db much. I should try to. But I rarely get any reaction at all on my blog. The only likes I get are from you, sharn, Sean and eye dancers. Don’t get me wrong! I’m grateful! But it makes me wonder sometimes…

        I love merging the two because I’d like to pull together my yt channel, and all the other outlets. But who knows…. i keep hoping something will pop.

      • Expat Eye says:

        It will probably happen when you least expect it! Some post that you thought was totally innocuous will strike a chord! That’s what happened to me anyway!

      • Really? Which one was it?

      • Expat Eye says:

        The thinking of moving to Riga one 😉 I just thought I’d was posting a few pics of my local area and hopefully waking up a few people. I didn’t think it would turn me into public enemy number one overnight 😉 Hopefully yours will happen in a positive way though!!

      • I don’t care how it happens, if it happens! 🙂 It is interesting to see that people who have downloaded the podcast are probably the ones who are checking out my blog. One cool thing that’s come about, Keith is adding about 8 of my songs into his rotation and putting in a block of music featuring Julie London tonight! We’ll see…

      • Expat Eye says:

        Sounds great! I guess it just takes time – and patience! It will happen!

      • You’re so great! Thanks for the words of encouragement! If you find my sound byte to be a bit over the top, don’t hesitate to say something! !!! (My adhd is apparent. 😉 one of the reasons I love writing. Easier to edit. )

      • Expat Eye says:

        True dat! 🙂

      • If you have any suggestions, don’t be shy!!!

      • Expat Eye says:

        I guess it’s easier to become ‘famous’ in a country the size of Latvia! And I think I was one of the first foreigners here to start writing a blog! I guess just keep plugging away at it and keep the quality…

      • Thanks. It is true that writing about Latvia has cache. No one else is doing it. I started creating video montages to go along with my singing, for the same reason. Still trying to figure out how best to use them. I love doing it. But it’s a lengthy process.

      • Expat Eye says:

        A lot of it is trial and error I suppose! You can never really tell what will touch or tickle someone! 🙂

      • Right? That’s why I tend to go with what tickles me.

      • That’s very cool about the magazine.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, she was really nice. Latvian girl married to an American and living over there.

  21. cornishkylie says:

    Brilliant! You should be proud to have been involved 🙂

  22. Heather says:

    The video is FABULOUS! Congrats!!

  23. Eilish says:

    Great promo!! Definitely I can see a lot of you in it. You did pretty good job, Linda. And let’s give an Ata Boy to Eriks for having your input, smart guy. Oh, love that Latvian smiling, v.e.r.y. please to meet you!

    • Expat Eye says:

      VERY! 🙂
      Ata Boy Erik! It was a good idea – it’s for foreigners so it made sense to get a foreigner’s input. I doubt any other agency did so he really deserves the credit for that 🙂

  24. Gypsy says:

    Very captivating; I actually wanted to see where he’d cart that podium next. Well done to you and the production team. You truly are one talented lady.
    And that SMILE at the end … oh, my! Does it come with every Janis?

  25. Mārčuks says:

    Haha! “That’s why latvians are closer to the nature than average european finds normal.” Sounds familiar. 😀

  26. Jude says:

    Hahaha it’s cold here six months of the year and our food is to be eaten not discussed (do yiu reckon I can taste it related to your previous post) And 50% of our land is covered in forests! The O’grady touch is alive and well!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I wonder how many Latvias you could fit into Canada! Thanks Jude! Hoping the O’Grady touch will be around for a while yet 😉

  27. I love it! It’s so hard for a promo video like that not to be cheesy, I honestly don’t know how you (and Erik) managed it. Nice work!!

  28. Mārčuks says:

    It was the Eriks Stendzinieks tweet from which I got to know about expateyeonlatvia, by the way . 😀 He retweeted Your post about women toilets in Latvia. 😀

  29. Alie C says:

    That was great, and what a fab momento to have of Latvia!

  30. I know the guy who narrated it… and that doesn’t go together with the guy in the clip. Not at all, not even an itsy-bitsy. But, hey, apart from that it’s great!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, yeah, the American accent seemed a bit odd to me at first too – and it’s sounds like he’s saying ‘winner’ instead of ‘winter’ 😉
      But I really, really like his delivery of the script so it’s grown on me!

  31. dang. super cool!! it’s so well done! i’m sad we won’t be around to celebrate and see your guy pictured in the MIDDLE!

  32. Lilue says:

    Have you seen some of the other vids posted by the LV institute, eg. this one: ? Is this LV humour?!

  33. Cindi says:

    Oh Linda, the video is fantastic!

  34. Europeen says:

    OMG! I saw the video before you made the post about it and when I saw the vid I was was like – WHO in Latvia has such a sense of humor and such excellent English skills?! 😀 good job! but, in my opinion, that “Jānis” in the video looks too good to be true…

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, well, I don’t mind really – I could look at him smile all day 😉 And thank you very much! But Erik did most of the heavy lifting!

      • Europeen says:

        And congratulations – as far as I have seen, the video also got many good comments on DELFI. that’s rare!!! and, by the way, do you have a plan to start a blog about your German era once you move to Germany? I truly hope so! I bet there are maaany weird things in Germany, too. 😉

      • Expat Eye says:

        And I’m determined to find every last one of them 😉 Yep, I’ll be starting a new blog shortly!
        I read some of the comments on there alright – you’re right, it does seem to be mostly positive… first time for everything! 🙂

  35. Great work! Thank you! Honestly… 🙂

  36. Anna says:

    OH MY GOOOOOOOOD! I love this so much! I am actually misty-eyed, except I was laughing throughout the video too!

  37. Fantastic! That’s really good. Definitely the right tone – not cheesy (oh but come on though there’s a place for cheese) and put a positive spin on things while staying genuine and truthful.

  38. OK, I take it the whole smile thing came from you…? Must have done!

  39. Salam says:

    I liked it.

  40. I think it’s an excellent video – it’s a little quirky and humourous and makes the country look good. 🙂 Great work!

  41. lizard100 says:

    Yee haar! Watched it now! Good and funny!

  42. lizard100 says:

    Okay. is I should watch it with the sound but I’ve been doing ‘sound effects’ stuff with the kids this week and the tv was on. So watching it without the sound and feeling cheeky. I like the way it’s a bit like a Eurovision set change filler oh and the bit in top if the hills looks like a wheelie bin. But I will watch if honest!

  43. Daina says:

    Kudos! I saw it as soon as the Latvian Institute tweeted it the other day, and immediately thought, “I wonder who wrote that?” because I had a difficult time imagining a Latvian writing it. 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha! Well, it was mainly Erik – with a little bit of input from me 🙂 He angled and untangled my ramblings 😉

      • Daina says:

        No matter who wrote which bit and had which idea, the teamwork obviously worked out really well, because the finished product is great. It generally does a good job of conveying what Latvia and Latvians are like. My only quibbles are the fact that it makes it look like the country is every less populated than it is, and that it’s mostly populated by men – which we all know is not the case at all!

        And now I’m trying to figure out if I know the narrator, and I also think I recognized the guy starring in it. Yes, it’s a small Latvian world for sure…

      • Expat Eye says:

        We probably could have squeezed all 1.9 million people in somewhere 😉 But it’s kind of the Latvian nature to be a bit of a loner, I think. And they have a little bit of a party at the end 😉 If we’d had women in there, I would have insisted on leopard print so it’s probably just as well they’re not 😉 The VO is Ivars Embrikts – must find out about the actor 😉

  44. June says:

    Wow! That looks great, Linda. Well done to all involved. I’d be tempted to go if it wasn’t so similar here! And that smile – swoon!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I know, right?! If there’s a wrap party, I’ll definitely try to take advantage of him 😉 In a non-creepy way, of course 🙂
      And thank you!!

  45. Yes, video is nice, and it travelled already from my friends on facebook, which also worked on it.:) More of all I am happy that you met creative and nice people- Latvians. 🙂

  46. freebutfun says:

    Good work, Linda! Love the video (and the smile)

  47. Vika Nikitina says:

    One of my friends in Jelgava sent it to me and I actually just watched it a few days ago- I didn’t know you were involved! Great job! 🙂

  48. cantaloupe says:

    Hahaha. There’s a comment on it that simply says, “Where’s potato?” I enjoyed that. Also the smile. The smile was pretty stellar.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha! Yeah, I laughed out loud at the ‘Where’s potato?’ comment! Potato make Latvian happy so it was a bit of an oversight I guess 😉
      And yes, yes it was – like sunshine 🙂

  49. NancyTex says:

    That video is fantastic – and you should be proud of your contributions!
    p.s. the actor’s smile is knee-weakening material, for sure.

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