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U.S. Image Takes a Hit Globally

By September 28, 2020 July 27th, 2021 No Comments

The reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world continues to take a PR hit.

A recent a 13-nation Pew Research Center survey concluded the reputation of the U.S. in some countries is as low as it’s been since the popular pollster began examining this subject. Also low are foreign respondents’ views of President Trump – surprise, surprise!

The U.K. is one of the countries with record low opinions of the U.S. Fewer than half of respondents (41 percent) had a favorable opinion of America. Just 31 percent of French respondents see the U.S. favorably. That’s about the same as French attitudes from March 2003, when the Iraq War was a source of Franco-U.S. discord. Only 26 percent of Germans view the U.S. favorably, nearly matching Germany’s 2003 low of 25 percent, Pew said.

South Korea (59 percent) and Italy (45) had the most favorable view of the U.S. Respondents in Belgium (24 percent), the Netherlands (30) and France (31) joined Germany (26) as those with the least favorable view of the U.S.

The survey was in the field from June 10 through August 3, 2020 in 13 countries, not including the U.S. It had 13,273 respondents.

Handling of the Virus

Not surprisingly, Pew said Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for part of the slide in the country’s image with overseas respondents. “A median of just 15 percent say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak,” the study said. While the perception of China’s effort against the pandemic is poorly rated in the survey, Beijing’s ministrations top Washington’s.

Interestingly, all citizens, except those in the U.S. and U.K., believe their countries have done well battling the virus. The World Health Organization, which President Trump has lambasted through the crisis, also receives good grades in the survey.

Speaking of the president, he’ll not enjoy perusing the survey. Even the leaders of Russia and China, former KGB official Vladimir Putin and the autocratic Xi Jinping, respectively, are more trusted than the U.S. president, the survey showed. One of the president’s least-favorite leaders, Germany’s Angela Merkel, topped the trust portion of the survey at 76 percent. Boris Johnson, the U.K. prime minister and a Trump supporter, has a nearly 50-50 trust-no trust split.

Thus far, the pandemic and resulting global recession have not had a major impact on perceptions about the global economic balance of power among the nations surveyed. Majorities or pluralities in these countries have named China as the world’s leading economic power in recent years, and that remains true in 2020. The exceptions are South Korea and Japan, where people see the U.S. as the world’s top economy.

Hershey Aims to Save Halloween from the Pandemic

Hershey is trying to save Halloween from the coronavirus pandemic.

The candy maker has worked with public-health experts and retailers to create a website to offer advice on how to trick-or-treat safely in different parts of the U.S., depending on the intensity of local COVID-19 transmission.

Hershey is also changing the variety of candies it makes for Halloween this year and introduced them a few weeks earlier than normal, aiming to prop up business during the season that typically drives one-tenth of its $8 billion in annual sales.

The pressure on Hershey to protect Halloween sales is indicative of a new stage of disruption for some businesses as the pandemic advances into the fall. Airlines, hotel operators and retailers are also bracing for the pandemic to alter normal travel and shopping patterns around the end-of-year holidays, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Since the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, Hershey’s sales have been tempered by social distancing restrictions that lead to fewer parties, vacations and shopping trips– especially to convenience stores, where a lot of candy is purchased.

Economic volatility has put pressure on Hershey for this year’s Halloween and winter holidays season. U.S. candy sales during last year’s Halloween season totaled $4.6 billion, making it the biggest holiday for candy, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Other candy makers, such as Mars Inc and Ferrero USA, are gearing up for more online candy sales this year and investing more in digital marketing, according to The Journal.

Hershey said the website that it helped develop uses a color-coded map, created by the Harvard Global Health Institute, that details COVID-19 risk level by county to help people assess how they can safely celebrate Halloween. The suggestions range from trick-or-treating with masks in areas that are low risk to Halloween candy hunts at home in areas that are high-risk. The tips are in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social-distancing guidelines, Hershey said.

Hershey said trick-or-treating makes up about half of its Halloween candy sales. The company said it is shifting marketing this year to focus on the other half—candy dishes at home.

Retailers placed orders for Halloween in the spring, and they were strong, Hershey said. But retailers can reduce their orders before the candy ships if they sense a slower sales trend.

Getting top sellers like Hershey’s Reese’s pumpkin-shaped chocolates on shelves two or three weeks early means consumers are likely to shop for Halloween candy on more than one occasion during the season, Hershey said.

Hershey also has been preparing for changed Halloween behavior in part by making less holiday-themed candy, to avoid having loads of leftovers that it would have to sell at a discount. It is also cutting back on really large assorted bags of candy mostly used for trick-or-treaters in favor of smaller versions. The candy maker is looking for guidance from its experience during the Easter holiday last spring, according to the company.

Fumbled Mic: Big Ten Football is a PR Nightmare!

The Big Ten has fumbled the PR football again!

Just weeks after announcing the postponement of all fall semester sports, the Big Ten Conference and its Council of Presidents and Chancellors recently voted to resume the football season beginning on Oct. 23.

The emergence of daily rapid-response COVID-19 testing – not available when university presidents and chancellors decided to pull the plug on the season – helped trigger a re-vote. Not to mention that other leagues – SEC, Big 12 and ACC are already into their fall football schedule, leaving the Big Ten in the proverbial dust!

The Pac-12 recently announced a partnership with a diagnostic lab that will give the conference’s schools the capacity to test athletes daily. The Big Ten believes it can do the same and that it is a game-changer.

Each team will have an eight-game schedule, although the details of that schedule have not been released.

The conference has adopted stringent medical protocols that include daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening for students who may test positive and rigorous data monitoring that will determine how schools can proceed with practices and games.

Testing will begin on Sept. 30 and student-athletes who do test positive at any point in the season will have to wait at least 21 days from their diagnosis to return to competition.

The move comes amid sharp pressure from coaches, a lawsuit from players and pressure from parents and even President Donald Trump pushing for a Big Ten football season. The conference is home to a number of battleground states in the November election to boot.

The Big Ten certainly grabbed a page from the mixed message playbook – and their image has been sacked because of it. We will see if it can get off the turf and restore luster to its Power Five reputation!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

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