Saturday, August 13, 2011

UBS: Not to be taken literally

The financial crisis reinforced all the ugly stereotypes of Wall Street bankers and their retinues. The public suspected they were a bunch of phonies – and their actions proved them so. Returns on mortgage-backed bonds? They turned out to be phony. Triple-A ratings from S&P – phony. The stability of Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. – phony.

I remember the grandiose tagline of Morgan Stanley – “World Wise.” That proved to be false bravado. World weary was more like it, I suggested.

In the wake of the shakiness of capital markets – and the self-deception indulged by bankers – you would think that cautious humility would govern bank marketing.

You would think that bankers and their ad agencies would look in the mirror – stare deep into their own eyes – and vow to find only truth and speak it without qualification. You would think.

Well, take a look at this tagline from the banking giant UBS:

“We will not rest?” Why would anyone promise that? “Oh, Brandsinger, it’s just a figure of speech… not to be taken literally.”

You would think that someone – perhaps an unpaid intern with big eyes and a squeaky voice – would rise from the back of the room and say: “Please sir… We do rest. That makes this statement a false promise. It makes us appear to be liars.”

Richard Nixon once assured us, “I am not a crook.” Morgan Stanley once crowed, “We are world wise.” And now UBS promises: “We will not rest."

Not to be taken literally... not to be taken seriously.



Anonymous said...

Gee, Brandsinger, you never rest in your quest to stamp out BS branding in all its forms. What's worst about the UBS tagline is its implicit self-righteousness. That figure of speech is generally attached to some statement involving justice. "We will not rest...until" we find the lost child, bring a criminal to justice, give those terrorists that what-for. What justice is UBS promising to deliver?

brandsinger said...

They promise not to rest until customers achieve their financial goals... which means, I suppose, that they'll have jobs in perpetuity.

-thanks for the comment


Larry Ackerman said...

Not to be taken literally, or at all? How about to be taken with large doses of - pick your preference - aspirin, many grains of salt, large quantities of wine, etc.

Honestly, who do these people think they're talking to? Worse, who do think is listening? Ad agencies have these guys under a spell - and these super-brilliantes aren't smart enough to realize it.

So, in the end, who are they talking to? Themselves.

pcharmin said...

the real shame is the politicaians who take thier money and let them keep doing business like the banks did nothing wrong.S&P one of the worst has the gall to down grade the U S A ? AFTER THE MORGAGE bundles they gradeed as aaa they should be out if business

brandsinger said...

Agreed, pcharmin.
S&P should be ashamed to presume to rate anyone's creditworthiness. Their credibility is CCC-minus.



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