Friday, May 8, 2009

Public Diplomacy: Big Buck PSYOP Needs A Boost

The Washington Post reported: “U.S. Running Out of Time to Join Shanghai Expo”

According to the article the US has missed a critical deadline for commitment and there is grave concern that the US pavilion will not be built in time. The expo and its mascot featured in the accompanying picture is expected to attract 70 million visitors during its 6 month life span and is being compared to “World’s Fairs” of the past. (official site: ).

Secretary of State Clinton has weighed in to the fray saying "I believe it is crucial for the United States to be present along with the other 180 nations participating in this major global event," Clinton wrote. "The U.S. presence at the Expo will showcase American business, culture and values in China's most dynamic city and foster an even stronger friendship between the American and Chinese peoples."

Interestingly enough the Secretary’s position is that she doesn’t want USG money, nor does she want to take money from the Chinese. It is hoped that commercial organizations will help fund the project to ensure US representation.

The ability to strut one’s stuff in front of an estimated 70 million people should make commercial mouths water and one wonders why that is not the case. Having purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of marketing services while I was at Symantec I can only conclude that potential sponsors haven’t been able to connect the dots from showing off to sales. Nothing stimulates corporate action more than the prospect of juicy revenue. Nothing except perhaps saving money.

Secretary Clinton might consider working with Congress to pass some special tax incentives that would benefit sponsors through reduced taxes. Clearly a President as intellectually astute as President Obama recognizes the long term benefits of this exercise of soft power as a way to showcase positive aspects of “American business, culture and values” as noted by Secretary Clinton.

While the expo is not the province of PSYOP or DOD it is indicative of the synergy Public Diplomacy and soft power can play on the world stage to bolster the American image.

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