Bankers' Bailout 'Bad Branding', Opine US Adfolk

06 October 2008

NEW YORK: The House of Representatives' rejection of the White House's initial $700 billion (€506.66bn; £394.59bn) plan to prevent a global financial meltdown was a "failure of branding" in the way it was marketed to Joe and Josie Public, accuse senior adland figures.

Despite last Monday's thumbs-down from the House of Representatives, the hastily re-cobbled bailout  was passed by both wings of Congress on Friday.

But two senior Euro RSCG Worldwide executives – ceo Andrew Bennett and chief communications officer Mary Perhach – aver that that the administration had failed to simplify for the American people the complex issues involved.

This, they argue, equates to a failure in branding. Instead the handout should have been positioned as the solution most of the public supported.

Bruce Haynes, managing partner of integrated marketing agency National Media Group, agrees. The term 'bailout', he harmonizes with the RSCG duo, infers failure and "Americans hate failure … unless there is the promise of a second act where the hero finds redemption".

"If it had been called a 'rescue' from the beginning it would have been seen as heroic because it is a redemptive act, restoring things to their rightful order."

Lars Perner, marketing professor at the University of Southern California, offered a different theory to the Los Angeles Times: "The first step should have been to show outrage over the gross irregularities of financial institutions. That might have tipped the scales more in favour of the plan."

The last word (in every sense) comes from the Bennett/Perhach/Haynes trio: "From hybrid cars to free trade coffee, " they pronounce, "consumers are sending a message that they aren't just buying products. They are 'voting' for the products that advance their world view."

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff