Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Giving the finger to the world

"Everyone hates us, I don't know why, we may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try."
- Randy Newman, "Political Science"
That line, from my favorite songwriter, was written over thirty years ago but it seems that history is repeating itself. According to a Pew survey, global perceptions of the United States continue to worsen. In Britain, our collective favorable rating is only 56%, off from 83% in 2000, and it is worse throughout Europe, where the favorable percentage falls to well below half. Even in Asia, in countries that benefitted from unmatched American generosity following several recent natural disasters, the perception of the United States is dismal.
New Pepsico CEO Indra Noori, quoted in a Septenber US News and World Report article, quipped: "Its time that U.S. businesspeople give the world a hand, not the finger."
All debate regarding current Administration policies and globalization aside, it may be time to work toward a makeover for 'brand America'.
The Bush Administration recently convened a group of 14 CEOs with Commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez to discuss the issue, of which one of the many recommendations was to create a nationally coordinated marketing campaign. Interesting.

Back in the day, (mid-90s) when I was a Vice President for the Dallas Advertising League, I had the opportunity to share the dais with Roy Spence, President of respected Austin-based advertising agency GSD&M. Prior to his sure-to-be inspiring speech to the local advertising students who had gathered for this luncheon, our conversation had turned to politics. I'll always remember Roy for this illuminating comment: "There are too many unnecessary cabinet members. We just need the president, and a Secretary of Marketing. If the Department of Marketing did the job correctly, they'd be no reason to have any of the others."

And there would be peace in our time. (Hey, a boy can dream.)

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