Is­rael goes on a PR of­fen­sive

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Anju S. Bawa

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.”

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