The election of Barack Obama electrified the world, signaling to millions that America is back on the international scene after eight long years of snubbing the rest of the globe.
It’s as if the “world has been waiting for him,” said Manning Selvage & Lee CEO Mark Hass. The Publicis Groupe unit chief has just returned from France with a collection of the country’s news magazines. Each features Obama on the cover with headlines like “America redeemed,” “the man who can change the world,” and “America’s new deal.” That’s pretty heady stuff.
The same Obama mania erupted in China. MS&L/China put together a collage of media coverage of America's big night. It's an image of sheer exuberance.
Nobody knows how long Obama and the U.S. will bask in the world’s media glow. Some key international players already have refused to sign up for Obama’s cheerleading team. For instance, the President-elect’s honeymoon with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lasted a “nanosecond,” noted Cari Guittard, executive director of Business for Diplomatic Action.
Medvedev, in his first state of the nation address to Russia’s federal assembly, bashed U.S. plans to build a European missile defense system in Poland. The Russian threatened to quickly test it by deploying missiles aimed at the site, if Obama follows through on the Bush Administration plan. What a party-pooper. Medvedev clumsily fell into the trap set by Vice President-elect Joe Biden, who predicted an international leader would quickly challenge Obama, an international novice. Way to go, Joe.
On the PR front, it isn’t clear whether the international goodwill shown to Obama will spill over to American companies operating overseas. One thing is certain: a pro-America wave certainly can’t hurt. As Hass said: “There has been a remarkable rebirth of the world’s love affair with America and what it represents. And even though most American-based businesses think of themselves as ‘global,’ there’s no way a renewed passion for this country can be ‘bad’ for business.”