Is­rael urges brand­ing guru to shed its ‘war-torn’ im­age

The Jewish Chronicle - - News -

ONE OF Bri­tain’s top im­age-mak­ers is to lead a cam­paign to recre­ate Is­rael’s in­ter­na­tional pro­file.

Fiona Gilmore, head of the Acanchi group, was in Is­rael last week meet­ing all lev­els of so­ci­ety, from For­eign Min­is­ter Tzipi Livni to en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists in the Negev.

Ms Livni had ap­pointed Acanchi as part of a cam­paign she has led for three years to re-brand the coun­try and lose its im­age as a spar­tan and war-torn.

The aim is to have Is­rael’s name more closely as­so­ci­ated with tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion and cul­ture and less with the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict. Acanchi will present plans by the end of the year.

Ms Gilmore headed the Springpoint brand­ing con­sul­tancy be­fore found­ing Acanchi in 2003. Her com­pany spe­cialises in cre­at­ing new im­ages for coun­tries, among them North­ern Ire­land and Le­banon.

Ido Aha­roni, head of the brand-man­age­ment unit at the Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry, said that the idea to re-brand fol­lowed the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on the US, “when we re­alised that the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict was go­ing to lose its cen­tral­ity and that it would be part of a much wider con­text”.

At the time, Mr Aha­roni was Is­rael’s me­dia con­sul in New York. With the then con­sul-gen­eral Alon Pinkas, he brought to­gether me­dia and mar­ket­ing ex­perts to form BIG — the Brand Is­rael Group. The ini­tia­tive was at first funded by Amer­i­can-Jewish phi­lan- thropists. Detailed re­search over­seas “showed that Is­rael’s brand was that of con­flict”, said Mr Aha­roni.

“Even those con­vinced that Is­rael was the good side were still not at­tracted to us, be­cause we were seen as the pro­duc­ers of bad news. Our con­clu­sion was that it is much more im­por­tant to be at­trac­tive than to be right.”

There then fol­lowed a PR of­fen­sive which ex­posed other sides of Is­rael to the in­ter­na­tional me­dia. Jour­nal­ists were in­vited to tour vine­yards and to see the newly re­stored Bauhaus ar­chi­tec­ture of Tel Aviv.

The Tourism Min­istry, con­cerned that Is­rael was seen as an ex­clu­sively mas­cu­line so­ci­ety, launched a mar­ket­ing cam­paign fea­tur­ing su­per­model Bar Rafaeli and bikini-clad women on beaches.

In late 2005, the project was en­dorsed by se­nior of­fi­cials, led by then For­eign Min­istry di­rec­tor-gen­eral Ron Prosor (now am­bas­sador to Bri­tain).

The fol­low­ing year, Ms Livni took it un­der her wing and se­cured fi­nanc­ing from the Trea­sury. In Oc­to­ber 2006, the project en­tered its strate­gic phase, which cul­mi­nated in the hir­ing of Acanchi.

“We need to get ready now for the fi­nal po­si­tion­ing, since we know what we want to do,” said Mr Aha­roni. “But this kind of project needs an or­gan­is­ing idea, an um­brella which will cover all the fields in which we will be work­ing and the gov­ern­ment, pri­vate sec­tor and vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions which will be part of this.”

An ear­lier part of the rebranding cam­paign from the Tourism Min­istry

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