Worldwide public education effort to accompany new US currency

WASHINGTON: America's currency is getting a new look for the second time in a decade, so to ensure a smooth rollout - which largely means preventing foreign-market panic - the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is embarking on a worldwide public education campaign.

WASHINGTON: America's currency is getting a new look for the second time in a decade, so to ensure a smooth rollout - which largely means preventing foreign-market panic - the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is embarking on a worldwide public education campaign.

The $55 million, five-year integrated effort was handed to Burson-Marsteller last week, the same firm that handled the Bureau's 1996 redesign rollout.

Slated to be unveiled as early as next year, the new currency is the government's latest attempt to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting technology. Altering the look of the globe's most-used money, however, creates some thorny international PR issues.

Two-thirds of US currency is circulated outside the US, and a number of countries now use it as their official legal tender. In many of those countries, such as Russia and Ecuador, citizens have come to associate new money with the recall and devaluation of old bills, a situation that could result in a run on banks and mass destabilization.

"Internationally, the message is reassuring people that US money will always be good, it will never be recalled, and there is never any timeline or deadline for its use, explained Richard Mintz, Burson's director of global public affairs.

The domestic component of the campaign will focus more on familiarizing the public with the new safety features - which include a watermark, a security thread, and ink that changes color when tilted - while encouraging them to always be on the lookout for counterfeit bills.

The massive campaign will exploit "virtually every communication discipline, said Mintz. Major tactics include advertising in markets where time does not allow for earning impressions, and enlisting the help of banks and retailers around the world. When Burson introduced the previous redesign, it helped retailers print informational posters and change pads to be displayed next to cash registers - a tactic it plans to replicate.

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