New from Melania Billboard Creators: Uhljeb Doesn’t Exist in English

Total Croatia News


June 20, 2019 – Remember THOSE Croatian billboards which around the world in 2017? The creators of the infamous Croatian language institute campaign with an image of Melania Trump are back – ‘uhljeb’ meets the world. 

It is almost two years since some billboards went up in Zagreb and within 24 hours had become one of the most viral global stories of the week. Seemingly every major global media reported on the Američki Institut in Zagreb’s campaign to attract new English students with a message with the image of the American First Lady, who hails from neighbouring Slovenia and made it all the way to The White House. Here is the TCN report on it at the time.  


I doubt that there has been a more effective billboard campaign with such a reach from such a small budget and number of billboards used, and the PR value was incredible, despite the fact that the billboards were soon removed by the threat of legal action. 

But now the Američki Institut in Zagreb is back in the billboard business, this time using a cultural norm closer to home with its message – The word ‘Uhljeb’ does not exist in English. Master English and conquer the world. 

In the last decade, the “uhljeb” phenomenon has become a social norm and a fact of life in Croatia and not much is done about the problem, making it worse every year. Positions within government companies are still being made up and set up for the selected few, while the qualified and capable are leaving the country.” – said Maša Anišić, the founder of Američki Institut in Zagreb. 


Additionally, the word “uhljeb” has only been recently used in the Croatian language and there still isn’t a direct translation of the word, which is quite interesting. We wanted to give hope to people, as they will probably not encounter this issue to be detrimental to their careers and lives in Western countries. However, any emigrant will still have to know the basics of the English language in order to get ahead in life and integrate into society. To be perfectly honest, we’re sure there are “uheljbs” anywhere in the world, but in the developed countries the problem is not so severe that it’s driving people to leave their homeland. In Croatia, the “uhljeb” has become a standard and a cultural phenomenon.


How to define the word ‘uhljeb’? It is a new addition to the Croatian language, and it refers to someone who gets his job through nepotism, does nothing and is yet one more parasite – as one diaspora businessman so eloquently put it at a recent conference in Split – “sucking on the nation’s tits.” The biggest attempt at explaining the cult of uhljeb is here

The closest I can get to explaining it is that the world u (in) and hljeb (similar to the Serb word for bread) would make a translation ‘in bread’, or someone who is getting something. But in order to become an uhljeb, you have to be intertwined with the system, so my best translation would be ‘an inbred in bread.’


LIfe in Croatia changed for me the day I discovered the Cult of Uhljeb, as I explained in A Tale of Two Croatias: Before and After the Uhljeb Discovery.

Another genius campaign, which due to its regional nature will not go as viral as Melania, but I am sure it will do very well indeed. 

To get the latest from the mighty State of Uhljebistan, follow the dedicated TCN section


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment