By CLAY RISEN
If the British consultant Simon Anholt had his way, sitting at the cabinet table with the secretary of defense and the attorney general would be a secretary of branding. Indeed, he foresees a day when the most important part of foreign policy isn't defense or trade but image - and when countries would protect and promote their images through coordinated branding departments. "I've visited a great many countries where they have ministers for things that are far less important," he says.
This year, Anholt, a prolific speaker, adviser to numerous governments and editor of the journal Place Branding, published "Brand America: The Mother of All Brands," in which he predicted that the days when countries will essentially open their own in-house marketing shops are right around the corner. "Governments understand this very well, and most of them are now trying or have tried in the past to achieve some kind of control over their images," Anholt writes. He may be on to something, since governments are quickly realizing that image maintenance isn't just about reeling in tourists - witness Karen Hughes's high-profile public-diplomacy efforts or Tony Blair's Public Diplomacy Strategy Board, an outgrowth of Britain's "Cool Britannia" campaign. Late last year, the Persian Gulf state Oman hired Landor Associates, a brand consulting outfit, to develop and promote "Brand Oman."
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