U.S. becomes top country brand under Obama: survey

Fri Nov 6, 2009 5:10am EST
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Barack Obama has done it again. The president's starpower has made the United States the place most people want to visit and do business with, according to an annual survey that ranks nations like retail brands.

The Country Brand Index, compiled by brand consultancy FutureBrand, found the United States had unseated Australia, which held the top spot for the past three years. Australia came in third this year with Canada rising to second place.

New Zealand and France rounded up the top five country brands in this year's index that included 102 countries.

"The Obama effect has seen the United States earn the coveted top spot for the first time in the fifth annual index," FutureBrand, which is part of Interpublic Group of Companies, said in a statement.

"The revitalization of Brand USA, and other factors, have resulted in the effect on Australia's ranking. It highlights the importance of keeping a country brand fresh, relevant and engaging in a highly competitive international marketplace," added Tim Riches, CEO FutureBrand Singapore.

The index is based on a survey of about 3,000 business and leisure travelers from nine countries.

In addition to branding countries, it also identifies global trends in travel and tourism, which the statement said was the world's fastest growing economic sector.

The United States was seen as the ideal place for business, one of the top places for families, shopping and quality products, as well as one of the countries people wanted to visit whether for the first time or again.   Continued...

<p>President Barack Obama meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not shown) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>