America has had an image problem in much of the rest of the world from the moment they, with the rest of us in the coalition, invaded Iraq. This matters for America in many ways, not least in business. Our own Trust Study has shown that American companies operate under a significant trust deficit in Europe (well, ‘old Europe’ anyway) and in meeting after meeting across the region when we have debated why this is with American and European business-people and commentators it has come down to European disaffection with George Bush and the War. Fairly or unfairly, that is the fact of it. Much of America’s power with the rest of us around the world was tied up in the moral authority conferred because of the virtues of the ‘American way of life’ and the ‘American dream’ – that anyone can make it there. It really resonated with people, even those who might turn up their noses at other aspects of American culture and even if it was not always true. But this was overshadowed by Iraq and what was perceived to be Bush’s high handedness. So if you were going to run a PR campaign for brand America, I can think of nothing better than the Presidential primaries we have just seen as tactic number one. For those of us outside the US, the spectacle of real political debate in real places with real people who were really, really engaged was an opportunity to re-connect again with how we used to see America. Not Washington grandeur and the geopolitics of a super-power, but well attended and highly charged caucuses in places we had often never heard of. I have no idea which of the two (to my mind) great candidates should or will win, but I know I will be glued to every move of their campaigns as will much of the rest of the world. The highlight for me was Obama’s speech in response to the wild remarks of his pastor and whatever this did or did not mean for Americans I can tell you that for the rest of us the admiration is coming back. I’m willing to bet that next year’s Trust Study will show a marked improvement in Trust in American business even here in cynical ‘old Europe’.
[tags] Trust Study, Barack Obama [/tags]