How to ruin a perfectly good "brand" -- America

A survey by the GMI World Poll find growing "anti-American sentiment"
among international consumers, evidently a reflection of result of disdain
for Bush administration foreign policies. This feeling "negatively
impacts U.S. multinational companies closely branded as American."

I doubt that the arrogant central players in the White House took
this backlash into account as they laid their plans for "New! Improved!
Preemptive Strike!"

Here's the story.
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Seattle, Washington -- December 27, 2004

American multinational companies will need to mount a valiant effort to
distance themselves from the image of the U.S. federal government and
its unpopular foreign policies in the New Year or risk continued brand
erosion and ongoing boycotting by European and Canadian consumers,
according to independent market research solutions company GMI, Inc.

The GMI World Poll conducted an 8,000 international consumer survey
on America’s image abroad, U.S. foreign policy and American
multinational brands on Dec. 10 through 12 (representative samples of
1,000 consumers in each of eight countries: Canada, China, France,
Germany, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United States). The study
found that 1/3 of the 8,000 international consumers stated that
American foreign policy, including the war on terror and the war in Iraq,
most influenced their image of America; only 17% indicated that
American movies and music most influenced their image. Furthermore,
79% of European and Canadian consumers distrust the American
government, 50% distrust American companies, and 39% distrust the
American people.

When European and Canadian consumers were asked to characterize the
American government and President Bush, they were most often
described as arrogant and self-centered; UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan was characterized as conventional and reserved. With this in
mind, when consumers were asked to characterize American
multinational brands, the data revealed select American multinational
company’s - AOL, Exxon Mobil and Starbucks - were viewed very much
like the American government and President Bush: arrogant, intrusive
and self-centered.

According to the study, these multinational American companies were
also among the top brands most likely to be boycotted; in keeping with
polls from the past three months, GMI World Poll found that 20% of
European and Canadian consumers reported that they consciously avoid
American products because of recent American foreign policy and
military action.

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Alas, the nation's leaders tend to take much for granted, especially the
amount of good will the USA has around the world. Right now that
"human capital" is running perilously thin.

Today's riddle: How is the U.S. Missile Defense Shield
different from a high school football team?

Answer #1: The shield doesn't operate in the rain.

From Reuters comes the story (about the shield, not the football team):

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first flight test in nearly two years of a
planned U.S. missile-defense shield has been scrapped two days in a row
this week because of bad weather, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Strong rain squalls over the Kwajalein atoll launch site in the central
Pacific caused the latest postponement, Richard Lehner, a spokesman
for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said shortly after the decision
to scrap the test. A new attempt might be made later in the day, he said.

Answer #2: The football team occasionally intercepts something.

When the skies cleared and the test finally happened, the interceptor failed to launch.

From the New York Times (12/16/04):

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - An important test of the United States'
fledgling missile defense system ended in failure early Wednesday as an
interceptor rocket failed to launch on cue from the Marshall Islands, the
Pentagon said.

After a rocket carrying a mock warhead as a target was launched from
Kodiak, Alaska, the interceptor, which was intended to go aloft 16
minutes later and home in on the target 100 miles over the earth,
automatically shut down because of "an unknown anomaly," according
to the Missile Defense Agency of the Defense Department.

Answer #3: The football team recognizes failures and adapts its strategy.

Also from the NY Times story:

But a spokesman for Senator John Kyl, Republican of Arizona, a strong
advocate of the program, said "one bum test" would not alter support for

Indeed, despite a series of delays in testing this year, Congress has
embraced the deployment of a rudimentary system, which is favored by
those who want to field even a limited system sooner rather than later.

Outsourcing the C.E.O.? -- high tech rumor

The following press release has been circulating in Silicon Valley and
other high tech communities. Probably scheduled for 4/1/05 release, it's
here it time for holiday cheer.

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Subject: Outsourcing update

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ)

News Flash: PALO ALTO. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) today
announced that the Office ofPresident, CEO and Chairman will be
outsourced as of December 31, the end of the fiscal year. The move is
being made to save $45 million in annual salary and benefits. Further
savings in air travel are expected to add to HP's bottom line. "At the end
of the day, the cost savings will be quite significant" says HP board
member, Executive Vice President, and CFO Rob Highwayman, who,
with the aid of HP's outsourcing arm, HP Services, has studied
outsourcing extensively. "We simply can no longer afford this inefficiency
and remain competitive in the world stage," Highwayman said. Sanji
Gurvinder Singh, 23, of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India, will be
assuming the Office of President, Chairman and CEO as of November 1.
He will receive a salary of $320 USD a month with proportionate
benefits. Mr. Singh will maintain his office in India andwill be working
primarily at night, due to the time difference between the US and India.
"I am excited to serve in this position," Mr. Singh stated in an exclusive
interview. "I always knew that my career at the HP call center would lead
to great things."

An HP spokesperson noted that Mr. Singh has extensive
experience inpublic speaking and has been given Ms. Fiorina's script tree
to enable him to answer any question without having to understand the
issue.Ms. Fiorina, 49, has announced that she will join the faculty of
theStanford School of Business, specializing in medieval business and the
related subject of employee motivation. No one at the Stanford School of
Business was available for comment.

The Hewlett-Packard board continues to explore other
outsourcing possibilities including HP's more than 1,200 vice
presidents. In an unrelated news item it was learned that HP was selling
five corporate jets complete with passengers thought to be board
members and HP executives. While the value of the content was not
thought to be significant it is believed that their accumulated air-miles
could be used to facilitate additional outsourcing initiatives.