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J ust weeks after Sept. 11, the Bush administration unleashed a novel weapon in the war against terrorism. Charlotte Beers, a prominent figure on Madison Avenue, was appointed undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. Beers had served as chairman of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather, and was famous for her handling of the IBM and Uncle Ben’s Rice accounts. These were just the skills her boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, was looking for. Shortly after taking office, Powell had told Congress that he was committed to “really branding foreign policy, branding the department, marketing the department, [and] marketing American values to the world.”

Beers, before she stopped giving interviews, explained: “This is a war about a way of life and fundamental beliefs in values we did not expect to ever have to explain and defend — such as freedom and tolerance.” She described her task as having to market the American way of life “for audiences who are, at best, cynical.”

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