PLAGUE OR PARANOIA?
“Brand USA is in trouble… it’s a problem for business.”1
—Bono, speaking at the 2005 World Economic Forum
“Wars and boycotts, both fade away.”2
—Jan Lindemann, Interbrand
KEITH REINHARD WAS FRUSTRATED. AT THE END OF 2004, MORE than three years into his quest to find a cure for anti-Americanism, the file cabinets outside his Madison Avenue office suite bulged with research showing that American brands were in a free fall. Two separate surveys showed that 20 percent to 25 percent of Asians, Europeans, and Canadians were consciously avoiding U.S. brands.3 His desk was covered with news clips about American brands being summarily “fired” by businesses in Europe. A German bicycle manufacturer canceled all parts orders with six American suppliers; restaurants across Germany and France stopped serving Coke, selling Marlboros, or letting customers pay with American Express cards.4 The videotape deck in his conference room was piled with tapes of foreign consumers unloading about the arrogance and ignorance of American companies and the American people.
Reinhard felt like a doctor with reams of diagnostic data that indicated his patient should be in a coma, but who was watching him play tennis. And win. He was frustrated because everything he knew about advertising and marketing said American brands should be sucking air overseas, but he had no empirical data to show it was actually happen-