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Messages of Stability Among Turmoil?

September 29th, 2008

So the issue has been hammered home by news outlets around the world, but we’ll say it again: the U.S. economy is in a dire crisis. Last week, as Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, American International Group (AIG) narrowly escaped the same fate with a government bailout of $85 billion in taxpayer dollars. Yet while financial institutions scrambled and Americans tried to guard their money, AIG competitor New York Life was busy coming up with a new advertising campaign to play up the reliability and stability of the organization. The rationale is that they wanted to distinguish themselves from all the big brands that have fallen. The question is, will it work?

Though New York Life isn’t the only private company trying to capitalize on the failure of the big public banks, it remains to be seen if this is the right approach given recent events. It’s pretty obvious that the American people aren’t exactly jumping for joy over the state of the U.S. financial system. In the last six months, we have sat back and watched the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers; the huge government rescues of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and AIG; and the potential acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America. None of these occurrences were ever thought possible and all of them are unprecedented. One day the Dow rises; the next it falls by hundreds of points. One day things are looking up; the next it looks like there is no way out of the mess this country has somehow gotten itself into. People are worried about everything from protection of investments to their 401(k) plans to job stability.

So how will some simple advertisements restore our faith in the reliability and stability of the financial system and pit one organization as being safer and better than its failed counterpart?N ew York Life would be better served by launching a thought leadership campaign with a point-of-view that addresses the issues facing consumers in an insightful manner. The company ought to talk about the steps consumers can take to ensure their money is safe; the right way to buy insurance during this time; or the ten actions consumers must take to ensure financial security. Simply throwing money at an ad campaign isn’t going to make people feel confident. We’ve seen too many unexpected fallouts in the system to not be skeptical. But becoming a thought leader in financial security, teaching us how to find it during this time of turmoil, and backing it up with good advice and a confident approach, just might show that there is a light at the end of this very dark tunnel.

Posted Under: Advertising, Point of View Marketing
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