Anyone that travels the global marketplace knows that negative views of the US are widely held. What often surprises people is the nations in which the population tends to view the US unfavorably. A massive global poll of 45,000 released by the Pew Research Center illustrates that the US is viewed negatively by significant portions of countries most Americans consider “friendly” – Germany (66%), Spain (60%), France (60%), Argentina (72%), Britain (42%). In emerging markets considered “must win” by US business, the numbers are troubling – Brazil (51%), Russia (48%), India (28%), China (57%). Other research has shown that this negativity can translate into an effort to avoid US brands, particularly among consumers under 40.
The risk this carries for US global economic leadership is profound. The Pew numbers should sound alarms in corporate board rooms across the US.
Boston Globe Washington bureau chief, Peter Canellos, explores this research in the context of July 4th and the Declaration of Independence and writes in today’s National Perspective column that “the truth may be self-evident, but a little persuasion doesn’t hurt.” Official and corporate efforts to improve US standing in the world and to restore the luster to Brand USA have proven sadly ineffective and often end with as little fanfare as these efforts produced (remember Charlotte Beers as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs?).
I agree with Canellos, persuasion doesn’t hurt. But it can’t be only one-way – Americans need to be persuaded that more interaction and better engagement with the rest of the globe is important and worthwhile. It is also vital to having large and important chunks of the global population engage with us.