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Does This 'United States of Awesome Possibilities' Ad Campaign Offend You?

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"It pains me, as a proud American, but we're viewed as arrogant and brash, and we've never been out there saying: 'Please come'."

How do you feel about Congress getting involved in a U.S. tourism campaign?

How do you feel about the campaign actively seeking to “rebrand” the U.S. because those in charge of the effort believe the country is considered too “unwelcoming,” “arrogant” and “brash”?

That’s precisely what Brand USA (formerly the Corporation for Travel Promotion, or CTP), created by Congress in 2010, is doing with what is reportedly the “first worldwide marketing campaign to promote the United States,” reports The New York Times.

The United States made $134.4 billion from international tourism in 2010, with a record 60 million tourists, according to figures from the U.S. Commerce Department. Knowing that tourism counts for 2.8 percent of gross domestic product and 7.52 million jobs, according to the New York Daily News, Washington sees the industry as a relatively fast and easy way to inject some money into the economy.

Know what the tagline is? "The United States of Awesome Possibilities."

No joke.

The budget for the campaign, estimated at up to $200 million, will reportedly come from sources "other than taxpayer dollars," funded through a combination of private sector investments and funds collected by the Department of Homeland Security from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, reports International Business Times.

"It is not about patriotism, flag-waving or chest-beating," said the corporation in a capsule explanation of the design, according to the Daily News. "It is meant to be welcoming, unexpected and inclusive."

A good deal of the strategy behind the campaign is based on the fact that “the United States is facing heightened criticism around the world," reports Advertising Age.

Recent Pew studies show America's image has declined in Latin America and Europe, as well as places like the Middle East where there's increased anti-American sentiment, reports My Fox Tampa.

"We're rebranding America for the first time," said Jim Evans, chief executive of the Corporation for Travel Promotion, according to the New York Daily News. "Over the last 10 or 12 years, people have seen America as unwelcoming as we've focused on security . . . and our competition (from other countries) is more fierce than it's ever been before."

According to Zachary Roth of The Lookout, the Brand USA campaign website offers foreign travelers some useful tips about American life and culture including:

  • "Health care is superior in the U.S. but it can be very expensive because there is no universal health care."
  • ". . . some banking networks charge fees of $1-2 per transaction," for ATM withdrawals.
  • "Be aware that Americans are fanatics about showering and hygiene."

"We have to rekindle the romance with the United States," said Chris Perkins, according to AFP.

"It pains me, as a proud American, but we're viewed as arrogant and brash, and we've never been out there saying: 'Please come.'"

Could’ve fooled me.

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