INTERNATIONAL: B-M lands global remit for new-look US dollar roll-out

WASHINGTON: The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing is embarking on a worldwide public education campaign as the dollar gets a makeover for the second time in a decade.

The Bureau is launching a £36m, five-year integrated effort to help introduce the new bills, which are set for circulation as early as autumn 2003.

Burson-Marsteller picked up the global brief last week, following its work for the Bureau's 1996 redesign.

The new bills are the Government's latest attempt to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting technology.

But altering the look of one of the world's most-used currencies will also create international PR challenges.

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 destabilisation.

'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,' said B-M director of global public affairs Richard Mintz.

The US component of the campaign will focus on familiarising the public with safety features - which include a watermark, a security thread and ink that changes colour when tilted - while encouraging them to continue looking out for counterfeit bills.

The worldwide campaign will exploit 'virtually every communication discipline,' said Mintz.

Banks and retailers around the world will be targeted as part of an advertising blitz.

When B-M 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.

B-M has launched a global practice focused on corporate and institutional, ethical and social responsibility (ESR). The division will be led out of London and New York. While the practice will draw on existing resources, B-M said future recruitment is a possibility.

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