In light of recent events, I thought it would be fun to haul out an old post of mine from the Brothers Einstein archives on The New EPA blog. It takes the old adage “be careful what you wish for” to its illogical extreme. In particular, it’s interesting to note how WaMu’s marketing has come full-circle to bite itself in the ass…
A common, very ill-advised thread permeates TV advertising for financial institutions, namely an obsession to see who can cast bankers and insurance agents in the worst possible light. Not an hour goes by without a bank ad that portrays its competitors as distrusting, greedy fat cats who only care about themselves-offset by the subject advertiser's last-gasp assurance: "but we're different." About as believable as a politician saying: "The reason you should vote for me is because, unlike my no-account, money-grubbing, lying schmuck of an opponent, I'm an honest, hard-working guy who puts your interests first."
There is a bank in Hawaii that for years positioned itself as the bank that says "YES!" -- the inference being that every other bank says "NO!" (or, as in my case: "Not on your life!"). Or how about those WaMu ads that show the uncaring "other guy" banker literally walking all over a small businessman? Is it any wonder that the metaphor for what's stuck to the sole of the banker's wingtip is what sticks in your mind? And don't get me started on how and why insurance companies have become fair game for personal-injury law firms.
The problem is that if you spend 90% of your media budget indicting your own industry, it's very difficult to resurrect things in the final few seconds. Simple logic dictates that the message that resonates is the one you spend the bulk of your energy developing, not the one you offer as a token afterthought. All of which leads me to conclude that it's not for lack of effort that our bedrock institutions have achieved cliché status.
One thing is certain, they've gotten their (our) money's worth!
About Mike Einstein and The New EPA
Mike Einstein is a partner in The New EPA, a creative strategy and branding boutique from the Brothers Einstein. The New EPA helps select rapid-growth clients protect their media investments with superior creative and brand strategies.