Monday, March 31, 2008

Israel's "New" Image

The Israeli Consulate in New York sent out an email recommending an article in AdWeek: Best Face Forward. The good news is that Israel is doing more than concentrating on facts and figures to counter negative propaganda.

On the other hand, apparently they have not given up on figures altogether:
The Maxim shoot, designed to help redefine Israel's public image, was initiated by David Saranga, the consul for media and public affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. It was part of a larger effort to give a new face to the nation as it approaches its 60th anniversary this spring.

...In the U.S., Saranga's office has launched a range of initiatives, both virtual and offline, to shift the image of Israel among audiences typically indifferent or even hostile towards the country. "Our research indicated that Israel is perceived primarily through two lenses: militarization and religion," says Saranga, who worked with New York-based Insight ResearchGroup (IRG) to conduct focus groups measuring Israel's appeal across the U.S. "What was lacking was a human lens."
Human lens? Just what is it about Judaism in Eretz Yisrael that lacks a human lens? Maybe they should come right out and say that what Israel is looking for is to look more 'fun'.
Prior to the Maxim shoot, Saranga developed and launched a MySpace page representing the entire State of Israel. Post-shoot, he launched one on Facebook, as well. He also created a blog,, which offers stories about Israeli culture, from fashion and film to music and cuisine, which was recently updated with a richer video-based interface.
But someone in Israel seems to have a one track mind and has arranged for the Sports Illustrated 2008 swimsuit issue to be filmed in Israel.

Yet, overall, focusing on particular places in Israel instead of Israel as a whole has had a positive effect:
So much so that the print campaign resulted in up to four times the number of previous visits to the Tourism Office's Web site, reports Jeff Upward, director of Total Media International in London, which handles all of Israel's U.K. and European media placement. "And some 20 times more visits when the spots ran on TV and in the London Underground," says Upward, compared to the period before the ads ran. He adds that recent print and outdoor campaigns in Russia saw tourism to Israel increase by 130 percent from that country, while a print-only campaign in Italy boosted business by 40 percent from 2006 to 2007 (numbers from Total Media International).
But just what is happening to Israel's image as a result of the new approach--especially using Maxim and Sports Illustrated to give Israel a "human lens"?
And the new efforts are appearing to sway the masses -- at least, the Maxim-reading masses. According to a study conducted late last year by IRG, the Maxim article succeeded in creating a more multi-dimensional image of Israel in the eyes of its readers. Fifty-two percent of respondents found the article "very appealing," 37 percent said they viewed Israel as "more liberal" and, perhaps most importantly, 74 percent said the article made them look at Israel "as more like the U.S."
What is not discussed is what is gained by giving Israel a "more liberal" look--and just what did people have in mind when they said that they looked at Israel as being "more like the US"?

The final question is whether Maxim and Sports Illustrated are going to help what Israel is supposedly really after:
"Even if parts of the public already support Israel, that is not enough -- we want them to care about Israel," says IRG head Boaz Mourad. "Because just like any brand, the more people care about you -- the better for your brand."
If that is really the key, just how much more are people going to care--really care--about Israel just because of bunch of half naked women?

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1 comment:

Gary Baumgarten said...

David Saranga will be my guest on News Talk Online on Paltalk Tuesday July 29 at 5 PM New York time.

To talk to Saranga go to and click on the link to the show. There is no charge.