They had adopted this tool of the PR and commerical world and were to apply it to Israel. "The latest thing" we were told. We figured it was all about making money, well, spending the taxpayers' money.
Well, about a year later, it seems to be hatching:-
Babes and Bikinis: Israel Plans to Revamp Its Image
Israeli Officials Have Approached a Men's Magazine to Promote a More Positive Image of Their Country
All countries carry a certain stereotype: Some associate pasta and emotion with Italy, the queen and bad weather with Britain, flashing lights and high-speed trains with Japan, and conflict and religion with Israel.
Israeli officials at the consulate in New York have decided to try to rebrand the negative image associated with their country and have approached Maxim, dubbed America's most-popular men's magazine, to launch a public relations campaign to help them.
The aim of the project is to change Israel's image from a country associated with constant conflict to a different, sexy, fun and vibrant place.
The project began six months ago when Israeli officials in the United States discovered (through market research) that men between the ages of 18 and 35 were uninterested in Israel, and considered the country "irrelevant."
Maxim is going to run a special Israel edition this July that will promote the country to its 2.5 million readership, and the magazine hopes it will revamp Israel's image in the eyes of young American men...
..."The aim of the campaign is to show the different faces of Israel," David Saranga, from the media and public affairs department at the Israeli consulate in New York, told ABC News. "The international media tends to concentrate on one dimension alone -- the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict. We hope we can broaden people's view." [a double-entendre, wink, wink]...
Other Israelis were not sure whether Israeli models posing provocatively in their bikinis for a men's magazine is the best way to sell their country, but they were willing to give it a chance.
Lindsay Citerman, an Israeli who studies Judaism in Jerusalem, said, "Tel Aviv is a sexy city, but I am not sure if this is the best way to sell Israel to Americans."
But she conceded, ''In our world, maybe that is the way that you have to do it."
Citerman believes that it is the political reality that should be changed first -- not the image...She doubts Maxim's PR campaign will change people's political views, but it might increase their interest in coming to Israel on holiday.
While it "can be very hard to measure success in a PR campaign" as Saranga put it, Israeli officials seem to be determined to create new ways of promoting their country's image abroad. And everyone knows girls in bikinis sell.
Now, I am all for bikinis as much as the next man, in theory anyway, but this is downright ridiculous. And a tremendous waste of money. And in any case, Ber Rafaeli is enough for two countries.