Monday, October 6, 2008

ReBranding--We're Not Toothpaste!

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has hired an international pr firm to rebrand Israel. That's a euphemism for changing Israel's image. In principle it's a good idea, but like good intentions, the results may be the road to Hell.

When I was at the International Jewish Bloggers Conference, not very long ago, we heard Foreign Ministry official explain all about Israel's terrible world image.

Let's say, "agreed," we need an image change, but it should be done well. Israel isn't just toothpaste or cream rinse. The usual pr and advertising tactics won't make Israel a more popular place. It's not a matter of changing the packaging or color scheme.

First diagnose the problem. What are the symptoms? In the study described at the conference we discovered that ordinary Americans think of Israel as an unfriendly armed camp. They think we live in fear.

The cure has to counteract that. Bragging about our technological feats and strutting bikini-clad beauties won't do the trick.

Research should be done to discover when Israel was most popular. You can save your money. Israel was most popular just after the 1967 Six Days War. The world, Jewish and non-Jews, were in awe of the tiny state, who without a single ally, defeated three enemy armies in six days. Israel was proud and safe. Dangers came with each "peace" treaty.

I wish I could market myself as a public relations consultant. Think of all the money these pr experts are getting...


Anonymous said...

Hi Batya,

My two cents...
Here is the problem, in a nutshell:
1. Israel speaks with too many voices, and too many “official” voices.

2. If the PM or someone from "officaldom" says that Israel shouldn’t be in the “West Bank”, or Eastern Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights, what is the typical American or American Jew, who has only rudimentary understanding of Middle Eastern and global events, to think? One with minimal understanding of the situation may agree, not knowing better, and the enemies on the left use these pronunciations as proof positive that their positions are the correct ones.

The problem goes way beyond branding, or hasbara, or whatever one wants to call it.


Batya said...

Good points, and again, I'll add that marketing us like breath mints won't help either.

josh said...

The decision was made to go with an advertising campaign about Israel being a 'normal' vacation and cultural getaway. I remember a ballet dancer with backdrop of Tel Aviv seashore from the direction of Yafo appearing in yahoo a lot.

In fact, everything can be branded (better word than label) even people.

But branding and hasbara are doomed to fail because the message is never uniform. It is rare that everyone speaks in one voice like during Cast Lead. During peace', conflicting messages and actions on the ground makes hasbara hopeless an ineffective.