Testing the Power of the Eagle

There’s an interesting marketing case study unfolding in front of our eyes right now. The question it will answer is “Can you successfully advertise over bad PR?” It seems Metropolitan National Bank thinks so. After the press announced the bank’s $32.5 million loss in the 2nd quarter, the bank has released an endless flock of ads in print and online outlets; all prominently featuring the distinguished bald eagle with headlines that declare the bank is loyal and true and has vision and purpose.

I believe I understand the strategy: if we reassure people with an abundance of positive messages, the negative will fade and be forgotten. I don’t think that’s an outrageous idea. But I also don’t think it will work in this case. My first thought when I began seeing these ads take flight was “they really want us to forget about that bad 2Q.” For me, the ads have become intertwined with the negative PR. Now when I see one of Metropolitan’s ads (which now seem to be populating more of the state than actual eagles), I think “Man they are spending a lot to cover up the money they loss.” And, when you really think about it, the onslaught of eagles is a bit insulting.

The success of this strategy relies heavily on us (consumers) being lazy and ignorant. For this to work, we have to basically come to this conclusion: “You know I heard about that bank losing a lot of money recently. I was worried at first but then I started seeing these eagles everywhere with the bank’s logo under them. I love eagles. I trust eagles. My concerns have been completely erased.”

In all fairness, bad PR is not easy to deal with. You’re forced to perform at your best in a time when negativity and stress are at their peak. And everything is due yesterday. Even with the intense pressure it brings, I believe the best way to address negative PR is to stand up to it directly through positive PR. It’s more credible. It’s more believable. And it’s more honest. Once the headline hits the press the “$32.5 million-loss” mountain is there. That’s reality. Covering it up doesn’t get rid of it. People still know what’s under there and its negativity is as strong as it ever was. Using advertising to get over this mountain will be tough, even with the help of our great national bird.

For added inspiration, listen to this song after reading this blog.

1 Comment

  1. ObamafromanothamothA

    I think that instantly recognizeable symbols, things that are supposed to ‘mean’ something universally fail miserably because they are reliant on something other than the image itself. (Think of your company’s best ads, do symbolic images or images that can hold their own work better?) An ad containing a $100 bill doesn’t conjure images of more 100 dollar bills, it manifests in the mind of the consumer the things he/she can buy. Similarly, the image of the eagle instantly provokes some sort of representative feeling in the consumer(pride, strength, pariotism) but, and your blog made me realize this, the feelings provoked by such images in the consumer change. Is it just me or would this have been a profitable idea in the Bush era? Then, no one could get enough red, white and blue. The idiot director of Metropolitan must have been the only one who didn’t see that the stoic, unmalleable symbol of our bird wasn’t going to fly in a post-bush ‘change’ based era. Making a national symbol profitable only works when the politics are on your side.

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