Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Why US Brands Should Fear a Bush Victory

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Why US Brands Should Fear a Bush Victory

Article excerpt

Should American brand managers be rooting for John Kerry in the imminent presidential elections? They probably should, except that few of them will realise just how negatively President Bush, and to an extent the whole US, is now perceived in the wider world.

To many Americans, President Bush is homely, straightforward, down-to-earth - one of them. To the rest of the world, Europeans in particular, Bush appears plain stupid. And four years after somehow managing to become president, it still seems remarkable that someone incapable of answering the simplest of questions when he runs out of briefing and script should hold the most powerful office on earth.

Most Americans don't realise that they are in urgent need of a rebrand. When, a couple of years ago, the BBC consulted the world on perceptions of the US across a wide range of issues, the results did not make pleasant viewing - particularly in the Middle East and the developing world.

The next morning an encounter with a Fox News presenter began with: 'Well, this finally proves it - it's the British Biased Corporation.' There was no recognition that the BBC programme was based on independent opinion polls carried out in other countries, or that it might be sensible to consider the implications of such negative images.

In the meantime, the Iraq war can only have made things much worse.

The Pugh Global Attitude survey, which closely monitors such things, shows marked declines in positive attitudes toward the US. The hostility, so far at least, is mainly aimed at Bush and his government rather than US brands. But is this about to change?

Research to be published this week by Research International, part of WPP, raises in a sharp way the question of whether negative attitudes to the US are starting to affect even once-imperious brands. If so, could it be an opportunity for European operators?

The research was conducted in Latin America on the grounds that, with a mature home market, it is from such regions that US corporations will have to find their future growth. The result makes disturbing reading for US brand managers.

While consumers acknowledge US brand superiority, more than 40% felt their views of the US would to some degree affect their buying decisions.

The research finds that there is a clear relationship between age and negative attitudes. …

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