shifting sands and winning brands

Consumer segments and implications for brand communications

Ken McDermott
Dipen Mehta
NFO WorldGroup

The Context

For many people in lands afar, the Middle East has always been associated with war, peace talks, barrels of oil and images of camels in the desert. For many years an overlysimplistic, onedimensional image of oldfashioned and simple people has represented the commonlyheld view of their way of life. Meanwhile, the Arabs have been taking an increasingly antiAmerican stance and a critical view of American support for Israel. The gradual rifts between the two cultures were tremendously but inevitably acerbated by the tragic effects of 9/11 and now there is widespread conjecture about a 'Clash of Civilizations.' The distinction between Arabs and terrorists has become blurred and the Middle East is bracing itself for the full effects of the war on terrorism with many countries being touted as possible targets. Conversely, an antiAmerican boycott has taken root in the Middle East that has seriously impacted sales of American brands in the region. A chasm between cultures has opened up.