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
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
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
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
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 www.worldcitizensguide.com.
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
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
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