CHARLOTTE BEERS TO RESIGN FROM STATE DEPARTMENT

Leaves Post After 17 Months Due to Health Reasons

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Charlotte Beers, the longtime ad executive who as undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs oversees the State
Photo: AP
'I got thrown a curve," said Charlotte Beers.
Related Stories:
SELLING BRAND USA TO A HOSTILE WORLD
American Advertising Goes to War
CHARLOTTE BEERS AND THE SELLING OF AMERICA
One Year Later She's Criticized for Not Doing Enough
SELLING AMERICA TO PEOPLE WHO HATE IT
We Must Understand Their Reality and Address the Roots of Their Animosity
SHOULD AMERICAN VALUES BE MARKETED TO MUSLIM NATIONS?
Experts Cite Pitfalls Posed by Complexities of Islamic Cultures
CHARLOTTE BEERS AND THE SELLING OF AMERICA
The Most Important Assignment of Her Life
MARKETING A NEW AND IMPROVED STATE DEPARTMENT
Appointment of Former Top Ad Executive Raises Eyebrows
FORMER AD AGENCY CHIEF NAMED TO STATE DEPARTMENT
New Kind of 'Branded' Diplomacy Planned

Department's public and media outreach, is resigning after 17 months because of health reasons.

Ms. Beers, 67, said today she learned a week ago of a major health issue that will require her to take significant time to explore medical options and that she reluctantly decided she couldn't do that and remain with the State Department.

'I got thrown a curve'
"[The State Department is] not something I would prefer to leave at this time, but I got thrown a curve, and I think I need to put real attention on getting some diagnostic information," she told AdAge.com.

Ms. Beers said she is pleased that she had set in place a process at the State Department that communicates what America and its values are not just to a country's leaders but to its populations.

"We have begun the dialog," she said. "We've opened up a number of doors."

Ms. Beers, who was chairman of J. Walter Thompson and an executive at Ogilvy & Mather and Euro RSCG Tatham, joined the Bush administration at the bequest of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served with Ms. Beers on the board of what was then Gulfstream Aviation.

Sept. 11
Mr. Powell had originally called on Ms. Beers to help re-craft the State Department's message overseas, bringing in a branding theme. But then came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and her responsibilities changed significantly.

Following the terror attacks, the U.S., which had been cutting back on public diplomacy efforts for years because of cutbacks, expanded its use of media abroad and began a number of outreach efforts, ranging from advertising campaigns to documentaries about U.S. life.

Ms. Beers said today that it is the revitalization of the State Department's policy public diplomacy operations, not the anger overseas over U.S. policy in Iraq, that her success should be judged on.

A 'broken system'
She said she came in with "no resources" and "a broken system" and with the help of Mr. Powell put in place procedures through which the State Department could use modern marketing systems, measuring tools and ideas to evaluate ways to reach foreign populations.

As undersecretary, Ms. Beers brought a communications perspective to her role, and as part of that the State Department undertook its first use of advertising in a paid campaign that ran during Ramadan in several Muslim countries.

Plenty of attention
She said the attention the Ramadan campaign received was out of proportion to a number of other changes that took place during her tenure, including efforts to provided more U.S. spokesmen overseas for TV, to do documentaries and to work with foreign TV news shows to provide ideas about events or programs that might reflect U.S. aid to their countries.

Testifying last week at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ms. Beers that one of the problems she found was that people living in Arab countries had little formal information about the U.S. and were getting all their news from America's detractors.

"The products we produce these days are very different from a few years ago," she said. "We need to talk to so many people around the world who do not even know the basics about us. They are taught to distrust our every motive."

An aide to Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the senator thought highly of Ms. Beers.

"Sen. Lugar's view is that public diplomacy needs to be beefed up substantially and she brought a lot of new programs and ideas," the aide said.

In this article:
Most Popular