WASHINGTON: Undersecretary of state for public affairs and public
diplomacy Charlotte Beers has finally unveiled the first stage of her
long-awaited strategy for telling America's story to overseas audiences,
particularly in Muslim countries.
What it does not include is perhaps as notable as what it does, given
Beers' illustrious Madison Avenue career. It does not, as she had hinted
in October, emphasize American-style advertising on Al-Jazeera TV, and
it does not involve a sole spokesperson to help "brand" the country.
"I think it's unlikely that you're going to see anything quite as
dramatic as a Coca-Cola spot," she warned a gathering of foreign
journalists at the State Department's Foreign Press Center on November
What the campaign does involve is various initiatives designed to "open
a dialog" with the Arab world.
In the interest of streamlining communications with foreign journalists
and media outlets, Beers and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher
informed the gathering of the many resources - mostly on the internet -
where they could find the US side of the story. These include
transcripts, daily messages, and documents produced by the
Beers then announced the formation of an advisory group called Dialog
with Islam, consisting of "experts in the Muslim world, scholars, and
academics," who had helped Beers "develop messages for the rest of the
world," and would continue to do so.
A lengthy brochure outlining the genesis of the American military
campaign in Afghanistan will be sent to US embassies around the world,
and may be included in foreign newspapers and magazines. The only thing
approaching an actual commercial is a four-minute video showing the
devastation from the September 11 attacks, which Beers hopes to place on
TV stations and websites worldwide.
Other initiatives include materials promoting the "Rewards for Justice"
program, which pays for information leading to the capture of
terrorists, and a new initiative called "Can a Woman Stop Terrorism?"
which tells the stories of women who have come forward and aided in the
capture of terrorists.
Beers said that she had worked with the Ad Council on developing some of
these materials, but VP of corporate communications Susan Jacobson said
that the council declined to help with the "Rewards for Justice"
materials. Those items, which include stickers as a means of reaching
those with little access to media, were instead produced in conjunction
with Ogilvy & Mather, where Beers served as CEO from 1992 to 1996.
- See Profile in next week's issue.