Posts Tagged ‘advertising’
I had heard alittle about some reputation problems (tax avoidance) that Starbucks had encountered in the U.K. over the past couple of months and just read this story about how they are working to counter their dip in reputational equity with a little frothy promotional offering. Now until mid-February, they are discounting coffees on Mondays to earn back customers’ trust and show that they are sorry. I was particularly enamored of this advertising campaign which is fun, clever, positive and should definitely help. It qualifies as a reputation recovery uplift.
Years ago when I wrote my book on reputation recovery, I told how disgraced Tyco International waited until they had proved themselves before launching a new advertising campaign. I wrote:
“When it was time to formally declare that the recovery process was officially in place, new CEO Breen initiated two noteworthy advertising campaigns. The first introduced Tyco’s brand-new 13-person leadership team that replaced the entire previous executive team. The advertising targeted to Wall Street, legislators, and employees featured the following statement accompanied by individual executive’s signatures: ‘‘We signed on because we believe Tyco has a bright future. We signed below to show you we mean it.’’ The signatures underscored the point that these executives had personally signed up for the mission. The campaign underscored how Tyco’s new leadership team was standing shoulder to shoulder behind Tyco’s improving reputation. The 13-person team portrait also communicated that new leadership was focused on the team, not the individual. According to Jim Harman, Tyco International’s vice president of advertising and branding, ‘‘The message behind this campaign was that Tyco had hired senior managers with the highest level of integrity from diverse manufacturing companies.’’
The advertising served as a reminder to influential stakeholders that Tyco was well on its way to rebuilding the reputation it lost.
AIG has now joined these ranks. If you recall, AIG was the recipient of the largest government bailout during the recent economic crisis and was on the short end of the stick when it came to public outrage. Since the new CEO, Robert Benmosche took over in 2009, AIG rebuilt its business and began paying back its loans to the US government. No one believed they would do it. And yet just yesterday, the government sold off what was left of AIG securities for a surprisingly big profit of nearly $18 billion in profit. Although they launched this new YouTube campaign about their comeback several weeks ago with the tag line, “Thank you, America. We’re proud to be keeping our promise to stand by you,” their timing is right and I dare say they hit the right notes in the campaign.
Some random notes on reputation from the past few days….
1. “Green” is having a hard time when it comes to reputation. Greenwashing claims are piling up as more advertisers try to appeal to socially conscious consumers. According to the U.S. Advertising Standards Authority’s public affairs department, “We received a record number of complaints about green claims last year, which had more than doubled from the year before, to over 300.” Companies need hard and clear evidence to make statements about their products being carbon-neutral, sustainable, organic, non-toxic, ozone friendly, 100% recycled. The reputation of “green” is quickly losing its power over consumers if it continues to be used irresponsibly. The Financial Times article where I read about this evolution of green’s reputation said that there are certain terms that are more passable than others such as “kinder to the environment,” “ecologically improved,” and “more environmentally friendly than before.” These might not satisfy consumers and marketers although they may be more credible. More stringent rules are on their way in the U.S .and U.K. Greenwashing charges against “green” could dilute its reputation altogether if we are not careful.
2. As our research on managing reputations online revealed, executives are very worried about the leaking of confidential documents. Another article I read recently in the Financial Times states that networking security is at greater risk than ever before. Executives seem aware but will be surprised at how easy it now is to break into company networks and steal information. The CEO of NCC Group, a network security firm, says that his team of “ethical hackers” has a success rate of 97.8% in hacking into corporate networks. Not only are wireless networks making it easier to break into corporate networks but so are stolen or lost laptops and devices. I thought it was very cool to read that one of the safety recommendations was for companies to use a “remote device wipe” so that all the data on a lost device could be obliterated on demand. Sounds very 24 to me (the program with Jack Bauer). After reading this article, I vow to never leave my laptop out on the desk of a hotel room just waiting to be taken. The article says that we should never assume we are safely covered network-wise. The executives in our study are right to be worried.
3. In today’s WSJ, an article on CEO turnover in the financial sector helps make a point that surfaced in our other recent survey on CEO reputations. We learned that nearly one-half of rising executives (49%) say that they would take a CEO position if offered. We stated that this was good news because positive CEO succession is critical to our nation’s economic recovery. The authors wrote, “ There aren’t any highly attractive CEO prospects in the financial-services industry. The best players won’t risk their careers going to a troubled enterprise.” Therefore the job number one for companies right now is to increase their leadership development programs and groom rising executives for the long-term. According to the Booz & Co. terrific survey on CEO turnover, 18% of financial services firms lost their CEO in 2008 and of these, more than half were pushed out. As the WSJ reports, several firms are now looking for CEO replacements – AIG, Hartford, Freddie Mac. The reputation of the financial services sector is in great need of repair and only when we have willing, seasoned and values-driven executives in the corner suite, will we be able to talk about a reputation recovery in the financial services sector.