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Best Face Forward


Despite these positive results and a roster of additional upcoming anniversary-related promotional events -- including an Israeli cinema festival at New York's Lincoln Center and an organized "virtual" party on the Second Life Web site, both in May -- the long-term effectiveness of such rebranding efforts remains uncertain.

"It will take quite a long time to turn around a country as controversial as Israel," observes Anholt. "As long as there is no peace or stability, Israel will always have trouble separating itself from its conflicts."

Nonetheless, Anholt's study did reveal that Israeli-made "products" are favorably perceived abroad -- including the "products" of lifestyle and tourism. Good news to folks like Saranga, who hope their marketing and media efforts will help the public better delineate between Israel-made products and Israel-made policy.

And the new efforts are appearing to sway the masses -- at least, the Maxim-reading masses. According to a study conducted late last year by IRG, the Maxim article succeeded in creating a more multi-dimensional image of Israel in the eyes of its readers. Fifty-two percent of respondents found the article "very appealing," 37 percent said they viewed Israel as "more liberal" and, perhaps most importantly, 74 percent said the article made them look at Israel "as more like the U.S."

"Even if parts of the public already support Israel, that is not enough -- we want them to care about Israel," says IRG head Boaz Mourad. "Because just like any brand, the more people care about you -- the better for your brand."

David Kaufman is a New York-based freelance writer and editor who contributes regularly to 'The New York Times,' 'The Financial Times' and 'Details.'