Publicis Boss Moots Public Service 'Peace Marketing' Drive

21 February 2005

One of the major stumbling blocks to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, believes Palestinian PR executive Kamel Husseini, is that "the hardliners on both sides have been much better at marketing than the peacemakers."

But this tragic imbalance could be about to change, thanks to the intervention of Maurice Lévy, the Morocco-born chairman/ceo of Publicis Groupe, whose family was forced to flee Franco's Spain and later Vichy France during the second world war.

But Lévy's initiative is personal rather than corporate, he stresses. He is also at pains to distance himself from the political and diplomatic processes.

"We can't do a lot on the political side, or the diplomatic side, but one of the things that communication people can do is help people understand each other better," he says.

He aims to develop a public service advertising campaign promoting the concept of peace. This would appear simultaneously both in the Arabic and Hebrew languages, targeting Israelis, Palestinians and - maybe later - other audiences.

The project is still in the development stage, Lévy reports, but the work done to date signifies the demolition of one major roadblock.

A small group of Israeli and Palestinian advertising and communications professionals is working together as an integrated team with the objective of presenting a proposal to political leaders, media owners and others at to the World Economic Forum when it meets in Jordan in May.

"When we started," says Lévy, "we were very down; we were at a moment that was very depressing. Now things have improved. There is a dramatic shift in the ambience." But, he cautions, there is no guarantee the peace campaign will ever appear.

Its progenitor, Kamel Husseini, hopes otherwise: "With a campaign based on humanity, we can hopefully recapture the silent majority in favor of peace," he says.

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune Online; additional content by WARC staff