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What did you do today, to promote peace?


Advertising for a Lasting Peace

Maurice Levy *

Paris - The Palestinian and Israeli negotiating sessions were long and difficult. Tempers flared, and raw emotions came to the surface. From time to time, it seemed as if the talks would break down. But in secret session after secret session over 2004 and the first few months of 2005, the team began to find a common language. And this May, as if a new Middle Eastern miracle had taken place, they reached an agreement.

Don't hold your breath just yet: Peace is not about to break out in the Middle East. Rather, what these Israelis and Palestinians agreed on was an advertising campaign about peace - and that in itself holds much promise for the future. This exercise in bridge-building began in January 2004, as the Intifada was raging and bus bombs were going off in Israel. Friends from the Peres Centre for Peace and the Palestinian Economic Forum had stopped to see me in Paris. As an advertising and communications professional who had spent a career building global brands, perhaps there was some way I could help. To put it in crude terms, "peace" was a brand in serious trouble.

Thus I helped put together a working team of Israeli and Palestinian advertising professionals. They came not only from Publicis Groupe, which I head, but from competing companies. Some were from big and brash ad agencies in Tel Aviv, others from start-ups in Ramallah or Nablus in the West Bank. Some were freelancers. All gave freely of their time to pursue the simple brief they were given: to come up with a single, shared campaign to promote peace - a campaign for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

In the 1960s, after all, the potent public service ad campaign "Keep America Beautiful" had helped a new generation of Americans become aware of environmental protection. Why can't advertising's power be used to help change perceptions among ordinary Israelis and Palestinians about the promise of peace? More than ever, we need to give the silent majorities on both sides a way to articulate their desire for a better future. And it is vitally important that we use a single message for both populations. The cause of peace in this unique and holy corner of the planet has been badly served by "tailoring" messages - talking in one way to Israelis and in another to Palestinians. Both populations need to be talking, and talked to, from the same script.

The process of actually creating this peace campaign has been anything but simple. Because of the closures and roadblocks in the area, it was often incredibly difficult just to hold meetings. Discussions would often become interminable mud-slinging sessions over who was more victimized, who was more "right." Yet the 80 or so dedicated Israelis and Palestinians who volunteered to work on this project finally succeeded in what they set out to do.

At a meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan on May 22 I was immensely proud to unveil the peace campaign they jointly created. It is a moving, powerful set of 30-second spots in which Palestinian and Israeli children invite others to join them. The tag line: "We hope someday you'll join us," from John Lennon's 1971 anthem of peace, "Imagine." We are now moving fast to raise the $3 million needed to produce these ads and broadcast them in Israel and the Palestinian territories - and, we hope, in neighbouring countries.

The mere fact that these courageous Palestinian and Israeli professionals were able to overcome the obstacles and jointly create this campaign gives me, for one, renewed hope that a way can be found to move forward on other issues. Communication - a common language - is the necessary beginning of any joint undertaking.

We aren't deluding ourselves. Advertising will never be a substitute for the hard work needed to craft a peace agreement. That has to do with fundamental issues like land, justice, liberty and security. Yet we must remember that without an underlying popular will and desire to move forward, any Israeli-Palestinian agreement will be much more difficult to reach - and will be much less solid.

* Maurice Lévy is chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, the advertising and communications company, based in Paris.
Source: International Herald Tribune, June 9, 2005.
Visit the International Herald Tribune Online: www.iht.com

Eine häufig gestellte Frage, beantwortet von Ariel Scharon:
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Der Galil, also Galiläa, ist der nördlichste Teil des Landes Israel und somit der Europa am nächsten liegende...

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Common Ground News Service promotes constructive perspectives and dialogue about current Middle East issues.

hagalil.com 22-08-2004



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