Danish Foreign Ministry - How Do People In The Middle East Perceive Denmark?


Several years ago, a governmental agency tasked with foreign affairs in Denmark was under siege by the Arab world after it defending the right of Danish cartoonists to publish cartoons depict­ing Mohammad in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten. They enlisted ReD to help explore how Arabs perceive Danes and Den­mark in more depth.

ReD researchers studied the attitudes of academics, business­people, journalists, activists, conservative religious figures, and the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East. Marginalized by an asymmetrical power dynamic with the West, most Arabs felt the publication of the cartoons were typical of Western bullying. Denmark, which they had pre­viously admired for its social democratic values and neutrality, had turned its back on them.

After a deep engagement in the world of various Arab thought leaders, we advised our client to make a publicly funded initiative bringing Arabs into the cultural conversation more dialogue-based. ReD researchers felt it was important to show Arabs that Denmark was committed to listening and to understanding Arab values and traditions, rather than simply promulgating the Western worldview. ReD also suggested that the client engage in aid or cultural exchange programs with other Nor­dic countries to remind the Arab world that Denmark still shares the Scandinavian values they admire.

In a follow-up project for the client, ReD conducted a global study on the perception of Denmark to develop a revitalized marketing and branding platform for the country. ReD looked at how people around the world perceived Denmark’s exports, tourism, research and education, and work-life balance, as well as the strength of Denmark as a country to invest in. Those findings led ReD to develop a brand platform that could be applied in the global marketing initiative’s various fo­cus areas. With this as the strategic foundation, our client launched a range of branding initiatives, including a marketing fund, working along the brand guidelines recommended by ReD.

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