Arnie Weissmann Keith Reinhard, chairman of DDB Worldwide, the ad agency responsible for McDonalds successful Im lovin it campaign, also represents several tourist boards and consequently does research about countries perceptions of potential visitors.

And he discovered that, when it comes to the U.S., not all citizens in other nations are lovin it. DDB listened in more than 100 countries to see how U.S. travelers are perceived.

Among other things, we heard many references to our country as a land of freedom and opportunity, Reinhard said. There was appreciation for our ethnic and cultural diversity, our can-do spirit, our creativity, our technology.

But some respondents also found Americans to be insensitive to other cultures. Others saw us as arrogant and self-centered, often preferring to talk rather than listen.

He pinpointed the four root causes of anti-Americanism: U.S. public policy, the negative effects of globalization, our popular culture and our collective personality.

Reinhard thought his best hope to change the situation was to try to influence the last of these, so he formed an organization called Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA). Its goal is to enlist the U.S. business community to support actions that will improve Americas image abroad.

Were not intending to use advertising to change perceptions of America, he said. Rather, over time, he hopes to improve our image by actually making Americans more sensitive to other cultures. His first step was to inspire students at the Temerlin Advertising Institute to create a World Citizens Guide for the 170,000 U.S. students studying abroad.

Some of the advice found in the guide includes: Dont compare everything you see in other countries with the way things are back in the States. Learn at least a few words in the language of the country youre visiting. Dont lecture. Its OK to be proud; its not OK to be arrogant. Monitor your voice level. Disagree respectfully. Talk about something besides politics.

BDA is creating an abridged version to make available for other travelers, but you can download a PDA of the complete guide at

If U.S. citizens collective personality were a corporate brand, it would still have many of the positive qualities listed above -freedom-loving, culturally diverse, etc. But to these, Reinhard wants to add a list of new brand qualities: Honest, fair, empathic, inclusive, a partner, good listeners, multilingual.

When it comes to the last of these, it becomes clear that the list is, at least in part, aspirational.

In principle, Reinhard has no problem with brands being aspirational -- he believes they can act as agents of change -- but he is aware that theres danger in launching promotions that move beyond amplification of qualities into the realm of fabrication.

For example, a survey revealed that people outside the U.K. perceived the British to be focused on the past, he said. In response, a Cool Britannia campaign was launched to characterize the new national identity, with its promise to [U.K.] people and businesses that they, too, would be cool by association. The problem was that half of the British population is not into cutting-edge fashion, design and music. The brand Cool Britannia failed.

One hopes the concept of a humble, attentive American is not as far-fetched as the idea that citizens of the U.K. might actually be cool. (Hows that for U.S. cultural sensitivity, British readers?)

Then again, the English introduced Carnaby Street to the world, and before that, Savile Row. This shows that theres hope. And perhaps one day we will actually see a sensitive, attentive, humble and fair-minded American who listens carefully to others -- even though hes perfectly capable of responding arrogantly in multiple languages.

Im lovin it.


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