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Reactions to the Shared Values Initiative

Reactions to the Shared Values Initiative

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Reactions to the Shared Values Initiative

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  1. Reactions to theShared Values Initiative Alice Kendrick, Ph.D. Southern Methodist University and Jami A. Fullerton, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University

  2. Overview In the fall of 2001, the State Dept., led by Undersecretary of State and former ad executive Charlotte Beers, launched a first-of-its kind television ad campaign in the Middle East featuring the happy lives of American Muslims. The ads were part of the U.S. government’s “Shared Values Initiative.”

  3. Shared Values Initiative • Post 9/11 public diplomacy campaign • Targeted predominantly Muslim countries • Attempts to convince the Muslim world not “to hate us” • Consists of numerous communication elements including TV spots • $15 million budget

  4. The Spots • 5 spots in the campaign • Termed “mini documentaries” by DOS • Produced by McCann-Erickson Ad Agency • Testimonial-style commercials featuring slice-of-life treatments of prosperous Muslim Americans in various professional and personal roles

  5. Shared Values Initiative • First time that the U.S. purchased international broadcast time to run a public diplomacy message • Used TV to reach the people • The media plan was cut short • Spots ran only in Pakistan, Malaysia,Indonesia and Kuwait. Some satellite spill-out in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

  6. Show the Spots • “Baker” • “Doctor” • “School Teacher” • “Journalist” • “Firefighter”

  7. Timeline • Oct. 29, 2002 • television ad campaign launches in Indonesia to coincide with Ramadan • Al-Jazeera and other Arab countries refuse to run the spots • Jan. 16, 2003 • Washington Post reports that the campaign was suspended because it failed • Beers tells CNN that campaign would continue

  8. Timeline • Feb. 3, 2003 • DOS reports that ads stopped running in Dec. and were being revised • March 2003 • Beers resigns for “health reasons” • Since March 2003 • Media, Congress and administration criticize Beers and distance themselves from the ad campaign

  9. Target Audience • “The People” in countries with high Muslim populations • Beers cited the importance of reaching women - “mothers and teachers”

  10. Effects & Evaluation • Media reports at home and abroad generally negative • considered a propaganda tool • Beers said it was successful because it “started a dialogue” • CNN and WSJ said it failed to register with Muslim audience and was prevented from airing in most countries • Criticized for not explaining U.S. policy

  11. Effects & Evaluation • No formal quantitative evaluation made public

  12. Research Questions • Attitudes toward the U.S. government • Attitudes toward U.S. people • Attitudes toward how Muslims are treated in America • Believability of commercials • Appropriateness and helpfulness the U.S. to run the commercials • Perceived effectiveness of the commercials • Main message, first impressions, likes and dislikes • Subgroup analyses

  13. Method • Pre/post experimental design • Traditional advertising copy test

  14. Method • Paper and pencil questionnaire (including pre-test) • Viewing of Shared Values Initiative commercials • Remainder of the questionnaire (including post-test)

  15. Sample • 105 international students • Regents College • London, England • July 2003

  16. Questionnaire • Dependent variables • attitude toward U.S. government • attitude toward U.S. people • treatment of Muslims

  17. Questionnaire • Copy test questions • first impression • main message • liked most/least • believability • effectiveness • appropriateness • confusing elements • persuasion

  18. Findings • Respondent Profile • 54% female; 46% male • average age 22 • English was native language of 7% • 58% spoke English fluently

  19. Findings • Respondent Profile • 25 different countries • 70% European • 2/3 know someone in the U.S. • Half have regular email contact with the U.S. • 97% said they would like to visit the U.S.

  20. Findings • Pre- v. Post-Attitudes toward the U.S. Government and U.S. People Favorability scale of 1-4 4 = most favorable

  21. Pre/Post Attitudes • U.S. Government • more positive after the videos • mean = 1.86 v. 2.05 • Christians and “not religious” remained negative • Muslims and “other religions” improved

  22. Pre/Post Attitudes • U.S. People • not statistically significant • women more favorable than men • Europeans less favorable

  23. Pre/Post Attitudes • Attitudes Toward Treatment of Muslims • Stronger agreement after videos • Mean = 2.82 v. 3.14 • Primary communication objective was met

  24. First Impressions • Most frequent first reactions: disbelief and skepticism • Focus on aspects of U.S. image: “America on its best behavior” • Intended main message registered among 12%

  25. Main Message • Most (59.8%) involved U.S. image • One-third: Muslims living freely and happily in the U.S. • One-half of main message registrations were Muslim-related

  26. Believability of Commercials • Fewer than half considered them believable • Doubt that the videos would be considered credible among target • 64% found elements confusing or hard to believe • One-sided nature objectionable • Europeans judged less believable • Christians and “not religious” judged less believable

  27. Appropriateness of Commercials • Students divided on appropriateness of strategy • One-third agreed “appropriate and helpful” • Europeans: less appropriate and helpful • Muslims and “other”: more appropriate and helpful

  28. Perceived Effectiveness of Commercials • Half said videos “an effective tool” for Muslim countries • Women agreed more strongly • Those who had visited U.S. or fluent in English less likely to agree

  29. Elements Liked and Disliked • One-fourth said they liked “nothing” • Likes: overall “objective” and “friendly” style and tone • Likes: information content (15.6%); specific information about Muslims (15.6%). • Dislikes: lack of believability (70.4%) • Few comments about specific executional elements

  30. Implications/Recommendations • SVI approach achieved its objectives • Mass media may be an appropriate method to communicate with audiences in the Middle East • Need to address erosion of attitude toward America in Westernized countries

  31. Implications/Recommendations • Concept testing and pre-testing should be used before spots are aired • Message strategy should be altered • Avoid “travel video” appeal

  32. Implications/Recommendations • Messages should be less one-sided • May not be perceived as propaganda • More likely to persuade and inoculate

  33. Implications/Recommendations • Using two-step flow theory of mass communication • Mass media messages are filtered through friends, family & church • Target communication to opinion leaders in the community, especially clerics

  34. First Impression – Table 1

  35. Main Message – Table 2

  36. Most Liked Elements – Table 3

  37. Most Disliked Elements Table 4