STATE DEPT. DENIES WSJ AD REPORT

Says Government Is Continuing Campaign Aimed at Muslims

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Directly contradicting a front page story in today's Wall Street Journal, the U.S. State Department said it has not
The 'Shared Values' spots present idyllic images of a multicultural America.
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suspended an advertising effort aimed at Muslim populations overseas.

This morning's Journal reported the government was "abandoning" the TV ad campaign developed by Charlotte Beers, a former chairman of ad agencies J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide who is now undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

'Story's wrong'
At a press conference this afternoon, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher denied the report. He told the assembled reporters that "the story's wrong. I don't know how else to say it." He said that while the initial message that was originally created to run during the Islamic holy period of Ramadan has been altered, the campaign is still running in countries in Asia and Africa in both paid and free media.

A spokesman for the Journal issued the following statement in response: "The Jan. 16 article in The Wall Street Journal doesn't say that the 'Shared Values' inititiative has been suspended. Rather, it states in the headline and the text that the television ad campaign has been suspended. State Department officials are quoted to that effect in the story. The story makes significant note of other parts of the initiative, and it mentions that the ads have appeared outside of the target market."

Mr. Boucher said about half of the program's $15 million budget has been spent and the rest will be spent in coming months. Only part of the money is going for media. The effort also includes speakers visits, media tours and other similar activities.

Prepared by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, the campaign features five mini-documentaries about Muslim life in America. They aired in several countries including Indonesia, but some countries rejected the spots.

'Successful'
Mr. Boucher today called the campaign "very successful" because "it was directed to talk to people on a different level, not to argue policy positions with them."

"We want to be able to do this kind of thing more and again as we design what you might call the next phase," he said. "We'll be talking more specifically about the things the U.S. does in the world that are a benefit to people around the world."

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