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Saudi Arabia Launches P.R. Campaign in U.S.

Saudi Arabia is spending millions on a television ad campaign aimed at bolstering its image with Americans, but some cable channels are declining to run the spots.

The ads began running last week, coinciding with the U.S. visit of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who met with President Bush at his ranch in Texas. They feature images of U.S. leaders meeting with Saudi officials and quotes from Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell showing support for the country.

The ads depict Saudi Arabia as a close friend of the United States carry the tag lines "The People of Saudi Arabia: Allies Against Terrorism" and "The People of Saudi Arabia: Allies For Peace."

The multimillion dollar ad campaign is running in 20 major cities across the country, according to Michael Petruzzello, a managing partner at the Washington public relations firm Qorvis Communications, which is handling the campaign.

Petruzzello said the firm has had no problem getting the ads on the air in the markets where they wanted them to be shown.

But Matthew Frankel, a spokesman for the cable network company Rainbow Media Group, said Tuesday the company's Bravo channel had been approached about the ads and declined to run them. Frankel declined to say why Bravo turned down the ads or to provide other details.

USA Network and Sci-Fi Channel, which are under the same owner and share an advertising department, also declined to run the ads, said John Kelley, a spokesman for USA Network. He also declined to say why the ads were turned down.

Electronic Media, a trade journal covering the television industry, reported in its Monday editions that several other cable networks also turned down the ads, including A&E, The History Channel, Lifetime, and The Weather Channel.

A spokesman for A&E and The History Channel declined to comment, and spokeswomen for Lifetime and The Weather Channel did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Petruzzello said the ads were intended to run on regional TV and cable broadcasts, but he said he did not know whether Bravo or other national cable channels mentioned in the Electronic Media article were approached about running the ads.

One of the Qorvis partners working on the project is Judy Smith, a former deputy press secretary to the first President Bush. Qorvis is being paid $200,000 a month by the Saudi government, Petruzzello said.