My job was to develop training for young diplomatic officers to help them do a better job via public diplomacy. I developed what would be called a marketing strategy to better sell a brand called "America." It comes down to figuring out how to best "position" America in the minds of the world community, whether they be customers, world leaders or the people in the street.
Start by asking about the perception you own in the mind. The U.S. is usually referred to as the "world's last super power"(an accurate description but a lousy idea). It generates concerns, fears, envy and hatred. Next ask what position do we want to own? The answer must better define America's role in the new world order. We want a concept with benefits in it; something most people would agree is a positive. My suggestion: Put three benefits into a simple sentence-"Helping to make the world a safer, freer and more prosperous place."
The power of this strategy is obvious. Security, freedom and prosperity are things most people want most. America can help deliver all three. And has done and is doing so in many places and many ways that people are not aware of. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote, "If you convey to people that you want them to succeed, they will take criticism. If you convey that you hold them in contempt, they won't listen to you."
Do we have the money to do the job? We do, but we must be willing to spend more on public diplomacy. A former Russian foreign minister once said, "America is like a big business that decided it doesn't need a PR department. Every business needs PR. Even a monopoly needs PR."
Can we stick it out? This is a long-term battle that every administration must be willing to pursue. We must not allow "politics" to get in the way. Powerful marketing programs run for years with no change.
Do we live up to our position? We must not only talk the talk; we must walk the walk. We must try and make the world safer, freer and more prosperous. This is where policy must line up with strategy or all the work will be undone.
Trout & Partners
Old Greenwich, Conn.
Donaton overlooked Omnicom's Cannes win
I know Scott Donaton writes for Ad Age, and usually very well, but I wonder if he also reads it. The headline [on Ad Age's Cannes story] said, "Omnicom sweeps Cannes" ("Omnicom sweeps Cannes; indies make strong showing," AA, June 30). The article is supported by three charts: one showing Omnicom networks BBDO, TBWA and DDB finishing first, second and sixth in Lions won, another showing BBDO, TBWA and DDB finishing first, second and third in Ad Age's trophy tally ratings and the third showing Omnicom as a group winning 95 Lions (about a third of the total and more than the next two groups combined).
A few pages later, Scott wrote that "public ownership is ruining the business ... [and] any serious student of the business can present a solid case in support of that assertion" ("Independents' day at Cannes proves bigger isn't always better," Viewpoint, AA, June 30). Later, he added, "the belief that being big has hurt agencies' ability to be good was something of an unofficial theme of (Cannes)." He went on to endorse an unnamed attendee's comment that "it was not a good year for the networks" and closed with the observation that "global networks went home with bruised egos because their suitcases weren't stuffed with Lions."
Bottom line, being part of a publicly owned group does not by itself inhibit or enhance creativity. And the only bruises people from BBDO, TBWA and DDB might have are from lugging home all that gold, silver and bronze.
Marketer integration views `beyond belief'
We were saddened by the survey results released at the American Association of Advertising Agencies summit ("Marketers: One-stop shops could compromise creative," AA, June 16). Like other agencies that have taken the integrated approach, we have done so to strengthen the creative and make it sing with one voice across all customer contact points. How the potential for "damaging the creative" can occur is beyond belief.
Ralph S. Heath
La Crosse, Wis.
* In "Ikea's `Lamp' wins Cannes" (June 23, P. 1), Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, was wrongly identified as the sole winner of the Titanium Lion (for BMW Films) at the Cannes International Advertising Festival. Optimedia, New York, co-owned by Publicis and Cordiant Communications Group, should have been listed as co-winner of the award for its work on BMW Films.
* In "Sortito brings adroit touch with film tie-ins to Spyglass" (June 23, P. 60), Spyglass Entertainment was wrongly identified as a producer of "Rush Hour 2." Roger Birnbaum Productions and New Line Cinema are the producers. Mr. Birnbaum is a principal in Spyglass.