INTERNATIONAL: Agencies bid to sell Switzerland to the US

GENEVA: At least three agencies - MWW, Fleishman-Hillard and Ogilvy

- are competing for a three-year, pounds 3.2m image-enhancement and

education campaign for Switzerland.



The winner of the contract will be charged with 'rebranding' Switzerland

in the eyes of Americans.



'When people think of Switzerland now, they think of chocolate, skiing

and a place to hide your money. They want people to recognise that this

is the home of humanitarianism, pluralism, and civic democracy,' said an

executive from one of the agencies.



'Americans seem to be confused between Switzerland, Sweden and The

Netherlands. No one seems to know what language they speak or what to

call them,' added the executive.



According to the request for proposals, the campaign's targets will be

current and future 'opinion leaders', the latter defined as 10 to

18-year-olds.



Final pitches were submitted in the latter half of March and a decision

is expected next week.



Switzerland, together with countries such as Germany and Canada, ranks

among the top seven foreign direct investors in the US. In 1998, Swiss

investment in the US amounted to more than pounds 38bn. In the same year

exports from the US to Switzerland exceeded pounds 5bn.



More than 600 US companies have invested in Switzerland, including IBM,

Digital Equipment, Philip Morris and Hewlett-Packard.



Switzerland has cranked up its global PR in recent months. In February,

the Swiss Embassy in London appointed its first PR chief (PRWeek, 9

February).



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