Four-wheeled #fićadiplomacy

05 Jun 2017
Zvezdana Crnogorac Bilateral & Communications Officer, British Embassy Belgrade

You've heard of digital diplomacy, commercial diplomacy, even panda diplomacy. How about #fićadiplomacy?

While discussing how to better promote Chevening during the next application cycle, we thought of emphasising the longevity of diplomatic relations between the UK and Serbia (this year we mark the 180th anniversary). It would be perfect if we somehow married the two—something old and something new.

The logical step was to use social networks to reach young leaders, with special focus on reviving the alumni Facebook page and @UKinSerbia twitter account. Together with prominent alumni, we had a Twitter Q&A, as well as a series of Facebook articles on former scholars’ experiences in the UK.

But, we have also decided to engage our Fića for our tours to Serbian university cities. This classic car, a ZASTAVA 750, was so popular in former Yugoslavia, you had to get on a waiting list to stand a chance of owning one. This supermini, used by everybody from the police to car racers in former Yugoslavia, was produced for 30 years (1955-1985) in the Serbian city of Kragujevac, as a longer version of FIAT 600, and nicknamed ‘Fića’ after a local cartoon character.

Even Minister Duncan was impressed with #fićadiplomacy

This particular Fića is owned by my colleague Jeremy Lang, who is passionate about old cars with character. It is an incredible feeling, even though we were driving 60 kilometres per hour on the motorway, everybody passing was smiling, waving, honking, and taking photos of us. Of course, when the public loves you, so does the media. Soon enough, we had had a number of interview requests, which we have been accepting under the condition they are promoting #CheveningSRB.

When we summarised the information from our long list of applications, we saw that our engagement with the alumni, Facebook page and #fićadiplomacy were by far the main information channels for our candidates. Also, now that interviews are over, we can confirm that our candidates were better informed on all of the important facts.

Fića is prepared for new challenges and the new season, and we are even thinking of branding it.