Not long ago Secretary of State Colin Powell bragged that Charlotte Beers was so good at advertising she had got him to eat Uncle Ben's Rice -- no kidding! No kidding as well that Powell gave that as his reason for hiring her as Assistant Secretary of State to 'sell' U.S. foreign policy around the world. Now Beers has quit...the 'mission impossible' apparently beyond even Madison Avenue's much-touted ability to sell anything to anyone.
Official Hired to Improve U.S. Image Resigns
By DAVID STOUT
NYTimes - WASHINGTON, March 3 — Charlotte Beers, the former advertising executive who has been the Bush administration's point person in efforts to improve America's image among Muslims, is quitting her State Department job after 17 months, the State Department said today.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Ms. Beers, who is 67, was resigning for health reasons. Another department official said her resignation would become effective in about two weeks.
Ms. Beers, a former chairwoman of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather, was appointed undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in September 2001, just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Her task was to devise a multimillion-dollar public diplomacy campaign, complete with academic exchange programs and slick public service advertisements, to soften anti-American feelings.
Some people who followed American foreign policy wondered whether it was appropriate in the first place to have an advertising executive try to change the image of the United States. But others credited Ms. Beers with reinvigorating efforts, through discussions and training sessions, to paint a truer picture of the United States.
Mr. Powell himself called Ms. Beers "a key and vital member of my team."
"At a critical and stressful time for our nation, she and her team sharpened our policy advocacy and took our values and our ideas to mass audiences and countries which hadn't heard from us in a concerted way for many years," the secretary said in a statement today.
Mr. Powell came to the defense of Ms. Beers soon after she was appointed. "Guess what?" he told a group of senators in November 2001. "There is nothing wrong with getting somebody who knows how to sell something."
Ms. Beers concentrated on ways to erase stereotypes about Americans that are widespread in Islamic countries.
She acknowledged only last week that her mission has been daunting. "The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen and how we are in fact seen is frighteningly wide," she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The department said the interim replacement for Ms. Beers will be Patricia Harrison, now head of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.