For Educators

Activity 4:

American Image Abroad

Develop strategies for improving world opinion of the United States.

Show students the sampling of foreign opinion about the United States featured in the approximately two-minute video clip, USA in Three Words. Explain that world opinion about the U.S. is frequently negative. Then, discuss how a bad national image can impact areas like foreign policy, trade, travel abroad, and national security.

Give students some background on U.S. efforts to promote itself in foreign countries by having the class watch the 12-minute multimedia presentation, Advertising Democracy. Which aspects of each featured public relations strategy led to success or failure? How might the social and political circumstances of the day have influenced which strategies were used?

Based on this analysis, have student groups each develop an updated set of strategies for improving world opinion of the U.S. and then share these ideas with the class. Consider steps that students could take to get their plans implemented (e.g., sharing strategies with appropriate leaders).

Additional Resources

Advertising Democracy
Watch a 12-minute multimedia presentation that charts the ups and downs of selling American values abroad. Also, listen to several audio interviews with commentary on America's image overseas.

Keith Reinhard: Business and Diplomacy (podcasts with transcripts)
Listen to or read comments on Anti-Americanism and its impact on business, plus what businesses can do to improve America's image in the world.

Nation Branding
Simon Anholt defines "nation branding" and discusses its importance. An audio discussion of Anholt's views on America as a brand is also available (

Related Standards

Civics, Standard 22: Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy.

Source: "Content Knowledge" by McRel (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning)



  1. USA in Three Words
Explore diverse perspectives of the United States
  2. The Internet's Impact on Political Participation
Investigate how Internet features and culture make political waves.
  3. A Slogan That Captures America's Best Identity
Explore the idea of "place branding" and develop a slogan that captures America's best identity.
< 4. American Image Abroad
Develop strategies for improving world opinion of the United States.
  5. Cross-country Rhythms
Explore the relationship between music, history, and culture.
  6. Patriotism and American Identity
Explore the concepts of "patriotism" and "American identity."
Download all activities as a PDF file (128KB, Acrobat Reader required)

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