Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rebranding A Major Brand? America.

For years the battle cry was those "Ugly Americans". It was awful, but was it deserved?

There was a time Americans would neatly place Canadian flags on their backpacks and baggage while traveling the world. Why? It became simple, the brand was tarnished. It became a bully. It was seen all things wrong. Expansion without compassion. And time went on without repair.

So, now America is like any company teetering on bankruptcy -- having lost so credibility and brand currency, and never more so then
over the past eight years. What can be done? Well, a magazine named PAPER has invited some of the best visual communicators in the United States, from ad gurus to artists to create original advertising concepts that could redefine the country's image. A welcome to U.S.A. 2.0.

Here are the details and my personal favorites. But it is Alex Bogusky's "Flag" that blew me away. I believe his rationale is as brilliant as the design. When President Obama included non-believers is his inauguration speech he touched so many while equally surprising so many.

I sent Alex a note about my feelings on his piece and the rationale, he told me he would love to turn it into a painting if "I could only find the time". Let's hope he does... this piece is timeless and potent.

(To see all the results click here)


From: Kim Hastreiter
Subject: Rebranding America
Date: March 16, 2009 4:54:26 PM EDT

To: Alex Bogusky, Dan Wieden, Ivan Chermayeff, Kevin Roberts, Andy Spade, Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Peter Buchanan-Smith, Steve Powers, Chris Johanson, Jonathan Horowitz, Mike Mills, Geoff McFetridge, Bruce High Quality Foundation, Alex Kalman

Hello! I'm a great fan of yours so I wanted to approach you about participating in a piece I am producing for my annual Design issue of the magazine (themed "homesweethome"). I felt compelled to include you in this piece as you are truly some of my personal favorite fearless creative communicators.

As the times we are living in are so radical, I think radical ideas are needed to help save our proverbial asses and to create a new path forward into what I like to call the "new normal". The best part of being in deep shit is that with it comes a unique opportunity for progressive thinking because the status quo is desperate. I thought it appropriate to dedicate the issue to home, and so the subject of one piece I am producing is about our homeland: The U.S. of A.

I have chosen a stellar list of my favorite mavericks (you are one!) and invited you all to create a visual page ---as if it was an ad--- for America. HOW WOULD YOU REBRAND AMERICA??? (we certainly need it desperately!) How would you make people love us again? How would you change our brand image? Our perception abroad? How could you project our future to our citizens? If America had a new ad campaign, what would it look like? I will run the portfolio of these "Ads for America" as the editorial well in the May issue of PAPER.

I know you are big cheeses, and yes, super busy, but I really hope you are inspired to contribute something that will then inspire others. To me this is an opportunity to share with our readers some amazing ideas from the best thinkers I know of using our pages. Can you (or your team) come up with something for this issue?

With Admiration,

"Our forefathers had the brilliance to provide for the separation of church and state, but it hasn't really been adhered to. For example, in the '50s "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. I think the "separation" may actually be part of the issue. Perhaps it would work better to unite the nation, the states and all faiths -- including the lack of faith -- and sew it into the flag, so we never forget that this was what our forefathers wanted."

"My dream is for all Americans to reach out to the world and inspire everyone they touch to come together and rebuild a new world of optimism, joy and shared responsibility. Actions speak louder than ads."
Kevin Roberts is the worldwide CEO and creative force behind Saatchi & Saatchi. He works with a team of 6,000 people across 86 countries. Well known for his revolutionary marketing theory of "Lovemarks," which helps to connect brands with emotions, Roberts is also the author of marketing and management books Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands, and sisomo: the future on screen.

"America is a forever-young country, branding and rebranding itself incessantly. This is no country for old ad people to re-imagine -- that is best accomplished by the youngest hearts and minds. And that is why we turned to W+K12. They did not disappoint."

Peter Buchanan-Smith started his own New York-based graphic design company, Buchanan-Smith, in 2006. He also teaches graphic design at The School of Visual Arts in New York.

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace." President Barack Obama, inaugural remarks (January 20, 2009)


Robin said...

Those were cool, I like the band-aid piece the best, and the nice to meet you again the least(reminds me too much of a hallmark card, which might be the point, or an old cartoon i CAN'NT remember right now), and the other two were really good as well.

Ed Burghard said...

You may be interested in an ongoing discussion of strengthening Brand America at

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