Friday, January 17, 2003

But there is change in Washington, every once in a while. Take the case of Charlotte Beers --- a legendary ad exec, though (according to some profiles I've read) more for her managerial talent than for her own personal marketing savvy. But when, after Sept. 11th, Dubya and co. realized that the United States was unpopular enough in the Muslim world for it to be a real problem, she got tapped to be "Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy", a job which more or less amounted to being the government's in-house adman.

After a rough start, featuring some notably tin-eared interviews in which she described the United States as "a great brand", she eventually produced a series of commercials for broadcast in Arab government media which featured American Muslims talking about their lives here. The campaign was widely derided for ignoring the real concerns of Muslims living abroad --- what American foreign policy is doing to them --- and the state-sponsored media of many Arab countries just refused to run it.

Now, with remarkably little fanfare, it's been cancelled. That's a pointer to an Ad Age squib; there's a Wall Street Journal article which I read in print which gives a little more detail, particularly about the trouble that the government had even getting the ads to run. Ms. Beers was apparently unavailable for comment.


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