Thursday, May 19, 2005

Focus Groups Reveal Anti-Semitic Stereotypes
In the Islamic World

The Council on Foreign Relations recently published a focus-group-based report on how the American "brand" is doing in the Islamic World. From Associated Press, via Little Green Footballs:

Anti-American feelings are widespread in the Muslim world and extend to U.S. consumer brands, according to a report released Wednesday. It suggested the U.S. burnish its image with a change in tone and by publicizing aid programs.

The United States should emphasize its development aid to Muslim countries rather than try to persuade Muslims to support U.S. policies in Iraq or in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the Council on Foreign Relations report.

The report, by Charney Research, is based on 14 focus groups conducted last December and January among college-educated men and women in Egypt, Morocco and Indonesia.

Anger at U.S. foreign policy and at the U.S. government dominated spontaneous reactions in all three countries.

Many young Muslims said they admired Osama bin Laden, while views of President Bush were uniformly negative. All focus group members rejected U.S. views of the war in Iraq, saying the United States invaded on a false premise to further its own regional goals.

Anti-Semitic stereotypes also were noted. Focus group members saw the United States and Israel as synonymous and estimated the proportion of Jews in the U.S. population at up to 85 percent; it is 2 percent.

The report found negative opinions of the United States are taking a toll on U.S. companies, and that amounts of U.S. aid were massively underestimated; not one person in any focus group knew the U.S. is the world's largest donor by dollar amount.

Now, let's think about this for a second, shall we? Say you're with a major US corporation, and you're doing market research with a series of focus groups in order to complete a report on how your customers feel about your brand. But then, when you get the "customers" sitting around the conference table, you find that they are a bunch of skinheads.

Would you continue on with the report, studiously writing down the responses of the white supremacist freaks in your midst? Would you take that report back to your bosses, and explain, "Well, yes, they are skinheads, but you know what? They are our market."

Would you craft a new series of television commercials aimed at the "sensibilites" of your Nazi target market?

Let's look a little bit more of what the CFR's study brought out. What do the Muslims Nazi's want from the United States?

"Most Egyptians and Indonesians put U.S. support for their countries over 10 years in millions; the correct figures were $7.3 billion and $1 billion, respectively," the authors said.

When asked what they wanted from the United States, focus group members said respect and aid to develop as their countries choose.

Ok, check. Got that. They want us to give them money and keep our mouths shut. Right.