To find out what the ad industry thought of one of its own being put in charge of “public diplomacy,” I checked out Advertising Age this morning. Sure enough, there’s a commentary from last week by Rance Crain about the ad industry’s role in selling America. Here’s an interesting bit of the article:

The job of convincing people around the world that our way of life is best is made more difficult and complex now because of the pervasiveness of our culture. Our movies, music, fashion, consumer brand names such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, embody what are widely seen as our crass and overly secular society.

Just as Muslim values are inseparable from their religion, our values are viewed unflatteringly, as inseparable from those of corporate America. What’s more, many people outside the U.S. don’t buy our argument that our wide variety of products and lifestyles represent freedom of choice. I was told bluntly by a Middle Eastern person in the U.S. that we have “too much freedom” and that it was causing him to lose control of his family.

It’s hard for us to understand and accept that what we take for granted here is a threat to more regimented and controlled societies, where freedom in all its forms is seen as eroding the authority of their rulers.