Israel goes on a PR offensive
Israel’s international image is hurting, and the country’s top officials have turned to the wisdom of Madison Avenue in a bid to “rebrand” their product.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with public relations executives, branding specialists and diplomats in September in Tel Aviv to brainstorm about improving the country’s image by using the marketing insights first developed to sell peanut butter and Pontiacs.
Israeli officials complain that the internationalpressgivesthecountry a warlike image by focusing on its military might and the string of conflicts with its Arab neighbors. Mrs. LivnitoldtheTelAvivgatheringthat shewouldliketoprojectamoreinviting image of the Jewish state.
“Whentheword‘Israel’issaidoutside its borders, we want it to invoke not fighting or soldiers, but a place that is desirable to visit and invest in, a place that preserves democratic ideals while struggling to exist,” she said, according to a Reuters news agency report. A staffer with the London-basedglobaladfirmSaatchi and Saatchi is already working with the Israelis free of charge on the rebranding effort.
A report released last month shows the scale of the re-branding job. Author Simon Anholt said his surveys show that Israel’s image abroad is so bad that any re-branding campaign would be “pointless.”
Israel’s negative image results fromavarietyoffactors,fromitshistory of armed conflict to the widespreadsympathyintheMiddleEast and Europe for the Palestinians to simple bias against Jews.
“The politics of a country can affect every aspect of a person’s perception about that country,” Mr. Anholt said. To permanently change the country’s image, Israel has to “bepreparedtochangeitsbehavior” in the areas of international peace and security.
Mr. Anholt, an independent researcherfromBritainandadviserto governments on branding, has developed the Anholt Nation Brands Index — an analytical ranking of the world’snationsasbrands.Thesurvey recently polled 25,903 online consumers from 36 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Israelfinisheddeadlastinthesurvey, behind Estonia, Indonesia and Turkey.
Among the factors considered in a nation’s “brand” are the quality of the country’s government, its culture, its people, its business and investment climate, and its desirability as a tourist destination.
“A nation’s brand is a deep-seated perception that does not change a great deal,” Mr. Anholt said. “There isnoevidencethatre-brandingcampaigns change people’s minds.”