Thursday, September 21, 2006

American Products and Culture Less Popular?

The argument goes that anti-Americanism is mainly political and that while people are critical of the Bush administration, they continue to consume U.S. products so... if it's OK for the economy, who cares... . Well, apparently this is no longer true, the decline of America's image is beginning to affect America’s business in the world, and it is getting the business world worried.

According to a recent study of teenagers in thirteen countries, not a single American company is on their list of favorites. Even Nike has been overtaken. The three that received the highest marks are Sony, Adidas and Nokia. (Le Monde via WatchingAmerica)

In 2003, the Business for Diplomatic Action was created – a sign that the business world believes that their own action is likely to be more efficient that that of the government
Its aim:

to enlist the U.S. business community in actions to improve the standing of America in the world with the goal of once again, seeing America admired as a global leader and respected as a courier of progress and prosperity for all people.

As Le Monde reports;

The group's vice president Thomas Miller says quite directly, the American government is no longer a credible messenger: "He [Bush] speaks, but in the rest of the world, people don't believe him."

The United States is no longer one of the top three countries that young people want to live in or visit. America has been overtaken by Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

"People go where they get the warmest welcome," said Miller. "The world saw us closing our doors.".

"There is a cooling toward American popular culture," notes Mr. Miller. More and more people are turning to local culture.

According to Thomas Miller, the decline of America's image began before September 11 2001, because of the rapidity of globalization.

"We said to ourselves: we won the Cold War. Everyone loves us."

I think that's a good point. It is undeniable that Bush's foreign policy has sped up the process, but it started before the war in Iraq and before 9/11. As the only remaining world super power, the US was bound to be seen as a the village's bully. Only, it seemed a much more charming and benevolent bully with the face of Bill Clinton. As for President Bush, he it way too easy for people to lash out and blame America for every going wrong in their lives and on this planet.

In the same article, former president of DDB Keith Reinhard says he “places his hope in the universities which are among the rare American institutions to have escaped the international lack of love”.

Well, that may be true but the hassles to get a visa and the proper papers may challenge that hope.

NOTE: In France at least,American culture is very much present. American movies and TV shows are more popular then ever. CSI and Cold Case are among the most popular shows on TV these days and there are lines of Parisians in Starbucks (which have only been here recently).

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