Poll Reveals Dismal State of the Mexico Brand in the U.S.

Led by conservatives, Americans overwhelmingly see Mexico as a source of problems for the U.S.

Results offer context for meeting next week between Obama and Mexico’s President-elect

AUSTIN, TX – November 20, 2012 – A first-of-its-kind study, the results of which were released today, underscores the troubled state of the Mexico brand in the U.S. and points to drug violence as the overwhelming driver of those impressions.

The national survey, conducted last month among 1,000 U.S. adults via YouGov and jointly released today by strategy consultancy Vianovo and leading advertising agency GSD&M, reveals that half of all Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Mexico, only 17% view its economy as modern, and more than 7 in10 believe it is unsafe for travel.

The negative views of Mexico appear to be almost exclusively driven by drug-related violence, with 72% citing it as the main reason for their opinion. Asked to give three words that come to mind when they think about Mexico, almost half of respondents mentioned “drugs” as one of their top-of-mind associations. The resulting word cloud shown below is a dramatic illustration of how the drug war has affected Americans’ attitudes toward Mexico.


“President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto inherits a Mexico whose image has been battered by the drug violence,” said James Taylor, founding partner at Vianovo. “But with a growing middle class and strong GDP growth, Peña Nieto has an opportunity to expand the focus of the relationship beyond security to include immigration, trade and economic issues —to the benefit of both nations.”

Given these results, it’s not surprising that 59% of Americans see Mexico more as a source of problems for the U.S., compared to only 14% who say the country is a good partner and neighbor. This result is especially lopsided among self-identified conservatives, with almost 80% seeing Mexico as a source of problems.

“Despite these survey results, there’s great opportunity to build the Mexico brand in the U.S.,” said Duff Stewart, GSD&M’s CEO. “Mexico has many positive economic and cultural stories to tell, but changing perceptions will take a concerted effort in both the U.S. and Mexico.”

Mexico’s President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto will meet next week with U.S. President Barack Obama, a vital next step in the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

See the full survey toplines and charts here.


About Vianovo
Vianovo is a boutique strategy consultancy that specializes in high-stakes brand, policy and crisis issues. Vianovo helps companies and causes position their brands, move public opinion, win advocacy battles and access new markets. The firm has offices in Austin, Dallas, Washington DC and Mexico City. For more information, visit

About GSD&M
GSD&M is an advertising agency headquartered in Austin, Texas. With a restless culture and purpose as a guiding force, GSD&M builds brands with an integrated creative and media approach. GSD&M is part of Omnicom Group, Inc. (NYSE:OMC). For more information, go to

Press Contact:

Julie Hillrichs
(972) 971-0117

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