PR won’t help

Caterpillar D9 bulldozers are regularly used in the occupied territories to destroy Palestinian homes. The company has become the target of boycott threats. Now, Caterpillar is fighting back:

With robust profits coming in, the company is now turning to its image problem, rolling out its first broad marketing campaign in more than a decade — a multimillion-dollar, six-year effort to erase negative portrayals of the company at home and raise brand awareness overseas, where sales growth potential and competition are greatest.

“It builds a bank of good will,” says Philip Kotler, professor of international marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “You build it in advance and draw from it when others want to put you in a bad light.”

For Cat, that means snuffing out peace activists’ portrayal of it as a military hardware maker whose bulldozers and excavators are as lethal to occupied Palestinian communities as Israeli tanks and jets. At least two Christian denominations, the Church of England and Presbyterian Church USA, are considering divesting Cat stock from their investment portfolios on the grounds that they don’t invest in military stocks.…