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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Brand America

 
World turning its back on Brand America
By Kevin Allison in New York
Published: August 1 2005 03:00 | Last updated: August 1 2005 03:00

The US is increasingly viewed as a "culture-free zone" inhabited by arrogant and unfriendly people, according to study of 25 countries' brand reputations.

The findings, published online today, will add to concerns that anti-Americanism is hurting companies whose products are considered to be distinctly "American".

The Anholt-GMI Nation Brands Index found that although US foreign policy remained a key driver of hostility, dissatisfaction with the world's sole superpower might run deeper.

"The US is still recognised as a leading place to do business, the home of desirable brands and popular culture," said Simon Anholt, author of the survey. "But its governance, its cultural heritage and its people are no longer widely respected or admired by the world."

Keith Reinhard, president of Business for Diplomatic Action, a group of business leaders dedicated to improving the US's image overseas, said help from the private sector was needed to repair Brand America.

"Right now the US government is not a credible messenger," said Mr Reinhard, chairman of DDB Worldwide, the advertising group. "We must work to build bridges of understanding and co-operation and respect through business-to-business activities."

Such initiatives could include lobbying for less stringent visa requirements for foreign students entering the US, increased cultural exchanges between US businesses and their foreign counterparts, and courses in diplomacy and foreign languages at business schools.

The US ranked 11th in the Brands Index, which asks people around the world to rate 25 countries according to their cultural, political and investment potential and other criteria. Australia received the highest overall score, with respondents expressing "an almost universal admiration of its people, landscapes and living and working environment", according to the report.

Although the US received high marks for its popular culture, it ranked last in cultural heritage, a measure of a country's "wisdom, intelligence, and integrity", according to Mr Anholt.

That the world takes a dim view of the US people will surprise most Americans themselves: the study's American respondents consistently placed the US at the top of all six categories polled.