Thursday, September 17, 2009

Improved Me!

The bad boys are busy in their image makeover sessions!

It took years for actor Jackie Chan to transform his image from iipman action flick actor to the king of comedy. Schwarzenegger splurged millions to change his image from an actor to a politician. In this race of makeovers, how can our famous and infamous leaders, presidents and dictators be left behind. Around the world, they are using all possible boulevard to promote their new image.

With similar motive in mind, since 2004, Equatorial Guinea has paid Cassidy and Associates — a government-relations firm — around $120,000 per month to overhaul the country's image and public perception and win audience with American leaders. Few years ago, the US officials would have never talked about their relationship with Guinea but on May 7, 2007, Condoleezza Rice stood before a pack of reporters with one of Africa's most appalling dictators — Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo — at her side and remarked him as a ‘good friend’. Learning from this, it did not take much time for Saudi Arabia to enter into a $14 million-a-year contract with Qorvis, a Washington PR firm, after 9/11 to refurbish its global image. A series of TV campaign (promoting the 9/11 Commission findings) with talk shows featuring Saudi royals alongside the US presidents were organised. Not so lately, in 2002 itself, even the petro-giant Qatar paid $15,000 a month to PR and lobbying firm Rahall Consulting. Following this deal Rahall presented congressional resolutions, which praised Qatar's democratic reform. Walking on the same lines, even Uganda — famous for human rights abuse — hired PR giant Hill & Knowlton to dilute criticism of its atrocious human rights record. Hill & Knowlton has also developed close ties with many other governments, globally, mainly for handling PR issues. The firm has had particular success in marketing the Gulf War and the Iraq war to the American people.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan ran an ad campaign echoing out that it is a ‘developing democratic country’. Even Sudan, famous for genocide, spent $530,000 to create an image that it was cooperating on the war on terrorism. It took three PR firms for Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev to make Bush announce that Aliyev ‘understands that democracy is the wave of the future’. Even Russia is not far away in this image-building race. Russia paid Ketchum $2.9 million (from August 2008 to January 2009) to attenuate its Georgia attack and gas issues with Ukraine. The firm secured a CNN interview for Vladimir Putin and facilitated Putin to become Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2007. Likewise, Republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have hired PR company to improve their worldwide image. Israeli's Foreign Ministry are hoping to "rebrand" Israel by focusing less on the regional conflict and more on Israel's science and culture with the help of firm Young and Rubicam.

In this era of commercialisation, every one, from actors to criminals to nations get involved in image building exercise. It’s no wrong hiring and indulging in image building process to better-off one’s perception in the world’s eye. But then, the nations must not forget that these initiatives will fall flat if they do not change their existing wrong habits (inhumane practices) or later get back to their old practices. These new avtars need to strictly maintain and practice their new image. With public memory being very short, these initiatives will come futile if not backed up by concrete efforts…efforts what they want the world to believe in!

For Complete IIPM Article, Click on IIPM Article

Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2008

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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