It's A Wonderful Life, According To New Bank Of America Ads

Yep, a real Christmas miracle would be bankers admitting wrongdoing and having the good grace to resign. But I'm guessing that happy surprise is not going to be under the tree this year. Oh well! David Wallis at the Prospect has this to say about the new warm-and-fuzzy Bank of America ads:

BoA’s tearjerkers coincide with less inspiring news about the company. The New York Times recently reported that Small Business Administration-backed loans by BoA plummeted 89 percent from 2006 to 2010. Meanwhile, BoA ranked on the bottom of JD Power’s annual Small Business Banking Study. The U.S. Treasury just issued Bank of America, as well as JPMorgan Chase, poor reviews for their performance in a federal program intended to modify the mortgages of homeowners facing foreclosure. And the fallout continues from the bank’s much-maligned plan, since dropped, to charge a monthly fee to debit card customers.

J.P. Morgan Chase also followed headlines about heartless behavior with the release of a heartwarming ad. Earlier this year, Chase ponied up $56 million to settle a class action lawsuit accusing the bank of overcharging more than 6,000 active-duty troops on mortgages and wrongly foreclosing the homes of fourteen military families. But let bygones be bygones. Chase’s latest ad salutes its mission to hire military veterans. The commercial shows clean-cut former soldiers donning new uniforms—crisp blue “Chase” dress shirts. “Chase knows when you are hiring a veteran, you’re hiring America’s best,” ooh-rahs one of the bank’s cadets.

Gene Grabowski, who specializes in crisis management at Levick Strategic Communications in Washington D.C., believes that the banks’ ads could pay dividends for the embattled companies. “People have been critical of banks since Old Man Potter shut down the Savings and Loan,” says Grabowski. “Does this really change the perception? No. But it does relieve some of the pressure from Capitol Hill and reminds consumers, ‘maybe banks aren’t all bad.”

A hearts and minds ad campaign might be a wily marketing strategy, but how about trying contrition and accountability? Imagine the commercials, which would cost little to produce. J.P. Morgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon and Bank of America’s CEO Brian T. Moynihan face the camera in front of a plain backdrop. First, the CEOs thank the American people for the bailout. “You were there for us even though we have not been there for you,” admits each banker. Then Dimon and Moynihan apologize for their respective bank’s misdeeds and announce their immediate resignations. Fade to black.

Now that would be a holiday miracle.


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