Country for sale: Low recognition, free delivery

Since Kazakhstan became an (almost) household word early last year, nation branding has been all the rage among tourism and business delegates from...

Since Kazakhstan became an (almost) household word early last year, nation branding has been all the rage among tourism and business delegates from Egypt to Sweden.

Slightly behind the curve, however, is Belgium, a country in which quaint cobblestone streets are practically strewn with chocolate, waffles, and diamonds -- but constant bickering between Flemish and Walloon political parties has kept government representatives from focusing on distributing that information via global press release.

Fed up with the wait, last week one former journalist took matters into his own hands: Starved for even a nibble of pro-Belgium awareness, the disgruntled citizen posted the country for sale on eBay.

"You almost have to throw a rock through a window to get attention for Belgium," eBay-er Gerrit Six told reporters.

Touting the nation’s stunning architecture, NATO headquarters designation, and world-renowned beer, the post drew attention indeed. Within days, it had generated 26 bids and pages of press; it was up to nearly US $14 million when eBay took it down “just to avoid confusion," explained the auction site’s Belgian PR manager Peter Burin.

That was probably for the best. Where does one put something the size of Maryland, anyway? Still, a country that's home to culinary specialties like French fries with 50 different dipping sauces (talk about confusion!) is worthy of all the attention it gets. Maybe Overstock.com will help a Belgian out.

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