Bank of America Portraits: If you haven't anything nice to say…

Bank of America was one of the financial institutions classified as “Too Big to Fail” and given federal bailouts to keep it afloat. The company is one of a handful of organizations often pointed-at as a key driver behind the Great Recession which nearly brought this country to its knees. 

And now, it is up to the marketing hacks and PR flax to reinvent the brand and build back a reputation of an organization steeped in shady dealings and seen as an uncaring black heart during America’s darkest days.

I feel for the marketers, advertising agencies, and PR gurus who sat in corporate conference rooms brainstorming how to bring back a storied brand with roots dating back to the time of another great disaster—the 1906 earthquake when Bank of America (then called Bank of Italy) which was established to serve working class citizens of the area, survived the earthquake and fire and was one of the first to offer loans to businesses to help rebuild the city. Sadly, the current incarnation of the bank does not have a similar customer-and-community focus to tell post Great Recession.

So, what to say about a bank who’s latest claim to fame is that it was simply Too Big to Fail—not so ethically and morally worthy of savings? Those aforementioned marketing hacks have come up with a vexing ad campaign to bring the brand back.

I have been in marketing and advertising for nearly 30 years, and I have watched this commercial several times. Still, I can not for the life of me figure out the value this marketing brings to reinvigorating the Bank of America brand. The spot shows generations of families being photographed (at first I thought it was a Kodak commercial produced to announce they were coming out of bankruptcy). The subliminal message appears to be that “Bank of America has always been there for you—at every point of your life” but all it does is remind me that they weren’t there for consumers during the Great Recession—in fact they were a major cause of it, causing hardship and pain for tens of millions of American families. So it actually is a negative reminder for me.

I don’t have an answer as to what type of ads Bank of America could be running to restore confidence in its brand. The only thing I can think of is not to run ads at all. After all, when you don’t have anything nice to say, isn’t it better not to say anything at all?

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