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Jewish World Review August 5, 2002 / 27 Menachem-Av 5762

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Consumer Reports

America goes Madison Ave.

The Selling of America | Let's run it up a flag pole and sees who salutes it.

The metaphor comes home and this time it's actually the American flag we're raising up the pole. Even more to the point, it's America itself that we'll be trying to sell, or so says Washington with the creation of the Office of Global Communication. That's right, America's going the Madison Avenue route. In other words, we are going to put lipstick on this pig and see if it flies.

The Bush Administration obviously recognizes the need for adaptive strategies, the marketing tactics which must be altered to suit local conditions in the foreign markets. More important, we need some pizzazz The old methods of explanation through diplomatic channels of how we want to be your country's friend just haven't worked. Radio Free Whatever can no longer be depended on for anything other than archaic propagandizing.

As the OGC begins to design their effort to counteract a poor image of America to the rest of the world. Their study reports the U.S. to be seen as "arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive and unwilling or unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue." Of course if I was on talk-radio, I would say, "What do these know-nothings know?!" But I digress.

Sell America? It's about time. The fact is, there's nothing we do better than sell. We need to turn adversaries into motivated buyers with good old American niche marketing, emotional appeal and maybe a little bit of the time-honored bait and switch.

So let's take a meeting, make America more world friendly and toss a few ideas against the wall and see what sticks...

CREATE BRAND LOYALTY - America must develop a world need for Uncle Sam. Pull back all foreign aid for one month, then reinitiate assistance for one month. Do this for six consecutive cycles and beneficiaries should clearly appreciate the difference between caring and not giving a hill o'beans.

FOCUS GROUPS - Bring in specially selected groups of European, Asian and Middle Eastern homemakers, ply them with coffee and sandwiches, then run proposed OGC campaigns by them. Not that we'll learn much but they'll tell their friends about the easy 50 bucks they can get for a lousy two hours without even blowing themselves up and we won't ever be able to get rid of these new best friends.

AFTER-MOVIE COMMERCIALS (Tapes to be air-dropped over all third world countries, including France) - 30 second spots of delighted foreign couples being interviewed as they exit a John Wayne war film. "I thought I'd turned red, white and blue and gone to heaven," said Bhanhi Alud. "Why didn't someone tell me how good it was to be a friend of America," said Pierre Monsier.

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS - Here's Hollywood's opportunity to step forward to tell the world that we're pretty darn good and "we care." Picture Charleton Heston with his arm around Oliver Stone, or Billy Bob and Angelina tatooing each other, as they declare "Let's Make Up." Not only says it all but makes for a certain Clio.

TELEPHONE MARKETING - This one always work. Whenever another country sits down for dinner, we call to offer them 0 % financing for three months on the new America's Your Pal Discover Card.

FAMILY AND FRIEND DISCOUNTS - For every former dissident or American hater you bring in, you get 25% off all AAA train tours of the Central States.

REBATES - Become a friend of America in the next thirty days and receive $10 back.

ISLAMIC HAPPY MEALS - Kids-sized shish-kabobs w/free mini-Korans containing a full page ad expressing our genuine desire to be YOUR COUNTRY HERE's new best friend...and a discount coupon to Lego Land..

BILLBOARDS - Well-placed images of underwear models projecting the best in American life.

INFOMERCIALS - Overnight paid-programming of a colorful sweatered Donald Rumsfield and George Foreman showing how inexpensive and easy it is to barbecue with America

USA COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT - Other nations will have a toll fee number to call whenever they think we're insensitive to their latest regime.

SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES - Edit terrorist recruitment videos to include an almost imperceptible picture of Pamela Anderson with the message, "With America, You Get Me."

MALLS - Open world-wide malls for hanging out. What teen can resist meeting their best bud in enclosed shopping areas full of arcades; Gap stores where newly developed Islamic styles offer low hip-hugging burkas emblazoned with subtle American flag prints and patterns, popular with swinging young Middle Eastern gals; Ben & Jerry's "I Love America" cherry, vanilla and blueberry ice cream or free Hickory Farms freedom-flavored cheese log samples?

SLOGANS - Nothing persuades faster than an obnoxious turn of a phrase that you can't get out of your head. Here are a few suggestions...

-"America...Its Gr-e-e-e-at!" -"Got Freedom?"

-"Don't Hate Me Because I'm America"

-"I'd Walk A Mile For A Democracy"

-"Don't Leave Home Without America" -"Look Ma, No Terrorists"

-"Put An American In Your Tank"

-"America -- The Other White Country"

-"America Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hand"

-"Bush...It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Country"

-"America...It's finger-lickin' good"

-"You Give Us 22 Minutes And We'll Give You Capitalism"

-"America...The Country That Refreshes"

-"Remember Hiroshima? Maybe You Want To Be Our Friend."


My country has a first name, it's U-n-i-t-ed
My country has a second name, it's S-t-a-t-es
I love to live here every day,
And if you ask me why I'll say...
"Cause America has a way with F-r-e-e-d-o-m."

JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of the forthcoming "Great Failures Of The Extremely Successful," Tallfellow Press, 2002 Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Steve Young