The U.S. government missed an opportunity to improve America’s image in the Arab and Muslim worlds when it shut down a public diplomacy television advertising campaign in 2002, according to a recent book by Professor Alice Kendrick in Meadows School of the Arts‘ Temerlin Advertising Institute and her associate, Jami Fullerton of Oklahoma State University. In Advertising’s War on Terrorism: The Story of the U.S. State Department’s Shared Values Initiative (Marquette Books, 2006), the professors examined the ads’ effectiveness, part of a multifaceted communication campaign – the Shared Values Initiative – that the State Department launched in 2002 to convince the Muslim and Arab world that America wasn’t waging war on Islam. About 300 million Arabs and Muslims saw the five televised ads, which depicted Muslims commenting on their happy lives and freedom of worship in America and were broadcast in Indonesia (the nation with the largest Muslim population) and other Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Despite support from Secretary of State Colin Powell, other bureaucrats and journalists criticized the effort and shut it down; however, they had no scientific evidence to back up their criticism, the authors say. “According to internal State Department documents about SVI in Indonesia, the campaign achieved its objectives. It not only got people talking about Muslim life in America, it also produced more positive perceptions of America,” they wrote. Read more at the book’s home page.
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