JERUSALEM: The Israeli government is crafting a public image campaign to change American perceptions of the country.
The campaign, unofficially called "Israel: Beyond the Headlines," will highlight the country's technological, pharmaceutical, and cultural contributions, and "how Israel is relevant to the American people," according to Gideon Meir, deputy director-general of public affairs at the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The impetus for the campaign came from a Wunderman BrandAsset Valuator (BAV) study that suggested large numbers of Americans don't consider Israel relevant to their lives. That percentage decreased as respondents learned about Israel's medical and scientific work.
David Sable, president and CEO of Wunderman's Europe/Middle East Africa division, said that American audiences didn't know much about the country beyond its conflict with Palestinians.
"You can't rebrand the country," Sable said. "You just have to use the assets you have in the strongest way possible."
The government has established a committee of three representatives from the offices of the Prime Minister, Defense Ministry, and Foreign Affairs. The Advertisers Association of Israel will present a pro-bono campaign to the committee. Once the campaign is finalized, the committee will determine how to allocate resources, coming from both the government and private sector.
"We will tell the private sector that if we succeed, it will bring more investments to Israel," Meir said. "This is not just in the interest of the government."
Based on availability of funds, the campaign could include an international PR firm.
While Meir said media relations would likely play a role in the final campaign, he criticized the international media for portraying a distorted view of Israel.
"The media could be important part of the campaign, but the media is looking for drama and blood to increase its sales," Meir said.