If you've been watching Breaking Bad this season, you've likely picked up on a subtle and not-so-complimentary metaphor for our neighbors just across the Caribbean in Belize. Without giving too much away, Walter White has been covering up for a character he killed by telling everybody he fled to Belize. But no one believes him, and the story has become one big joke. Last week, White threatened to kill another character by saying, "I'll send you to Belize."
The message was clear: "going to Belize" = going to your death. Further simplified: Belize = death.
That's not exactly what you want to hear if you're responsible for promoting Belize tourism. So the folks at the Belize Tourism Board spun that message right around with a pretty sweet offer to Breaking Bad show creator Vince Gilligan, and stars including Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul: Come see this dark underworld of ours for yourself.
In an open letter to the cast of Breaking Bad, sent to the New York Times, the board writes:
Despite what Saul meant when he suggested Walt send Hank "on a trip to Belize," we were flattered to be included on your program last Sunday. Many of us are big fans of the show and can't wait to see what happens over the last six episodes. While we hope that some of our favorite characters don't get "sent on a trip to Belize" on the show, we do hope you'll take us up on the following offer -- we'd like to send all of you on an ACTUAL trip to our country after the season is over.
Genius move. I've had the chance to visit Belize, and it really is a spectacular country. Not only that, but you can stay in some pretty sweet hotels for relatively inexpensive rates, compared to other destinations in the area. There's not even a language barrier for native English speakers (although, if the cast of Breaking Bad didn't pick up at least a little Spanish during the years they spent filming in New Mexico, shame on them).
All of which is to say: sending eight people on a trip to Belize, even a really nice one, likely costs a lot less than taking out a giant ad in the Times. Not to mention all the sprawling coverage around the web. (Like, uh, this story right here.)
What's better is that the letter isn't just pandering to Breaking Bad's epic and highly invested fan base; it reads like it comes from real fans themselves, referencing themes and even specific episodes from its last five seasons.
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"Allow us an opportunity to entertain you," it says. "We have the Blue Hole for Walt, purple fish for Marie, geology for Hank, great music and friendly people for Jesse, delicious breakfast cuisine for Walt Jr., several nice locations to swim for Skyler, colorful clothing for Saul, and the list goes on."
That's some "luring Gus into a bomb-laden nursing home"-level trickery right there, at least by advertising standards.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.