Shared Values was a public relations campaign organized by the U.S. State Department to combat anti-American sentiment in Arab countries. The campaign used television advertising, speaking tours, town-hall meetings, print publications, radio broadcasts, and Arab outreach programs.
Charlotte Beers, a former advertising executive who became U.S. undersecretary for public diplomacy after September 11, was the driving force behind Shared Values. One of its first public initiatives was a $15 million advertising campaign that broadcast TV spots in several Arab countries. The ads, which attempted to ease anti-American sentiment by featuring Muslim Americans talking about their positive experiences living in the United States, began broadcasting in December 2002. However, they were discontinued after only a month.
A State Department spokesman denied that the advertising campaign was a failure. "Those spots were only intended to run during the month of Ramadan, and they were completed successfully on schedule," he said. In June 2003, however, the U.S. State Department launched an inquiry into the failure of Shared Values to polish America's image in Muslim countries, after an opinion poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press found that that negative views of the U.S. were on the rise in the Middle East.
Video of the other ads on the Internet Archive
- Charlotte Beers, "Public Diplomacy After September 11," transcript of remarks to the National Press Club, December 18, 2002.
- Douglas Quenqua, "State Department says US image push is far from over," PR Week, February 3, 2003.
- Douglas Quenqua, "State Department launches review of its Mideast diplomacy efforts," PR Week, June 16, 2003.
- "Views of a Changing World 2003" (opinion poll), Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, June 3, 2003.
- Copies of the Shared Values videos can be downloaded from the Internet Archive.
- Jami Fullerton and Alice Kendrick, Advertising's War on Terrorism: The Story of the U.S. State Department's Shared Values Initiative (Marquette Books, 2006), ISBN 0922993440. Fullertin and Kendrick argue that the advertising campaign was more effective than its critics have claimed. See also the website for their book.