The $700 Billion Branding Blunder

Those of us in communications followed with interest the branding campaign that went awry in Washington as Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. called his $700 billion plan to shore up the nation’s shaky financial system the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Everyone else called it the bailout.

In a recent NY Times article:
The politics of governance in Washington is as much about marketing as anything else…by the time it was first rejected by the House — the White House, Congressional leaders and both presidential candidates — had long since lost the perception battle to critics on the Internet and radio and television talk shows. And if there was any broad agreement, it was that the plan needed to be rebranded to have any hope of resurrection.

“The hurdle is overcoming the word ‘bailout,’ ” R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, told The Times. “It has continued to be used by members of Congress. You see it in the press today all over the place. This is not a bailout; this is Treasury buying toxic assets that they will dispose of over a period of time and resell.”

Even maverick (don’t get me started) Senator John McCain agreed. “The first thing I’d do is say, ‘Let’s not call it a bailout. Let’s call it a rescue,’ ” he said on CNN. “Because it is a rescue. It’s a rescue of Main Street America.”

“The messaging was about as wooden and wonkish as it could be,” Patrick Griffin, a former White House lobbyist for President Bill Clinton, told The Times. “Poor Paulson — that was not his forte. And they started behind the eight ball. I never understood why they took so long to have the president engage.”

These two google trend maps show the failure of the Communications plan.



Who says Communications aren’t important!

BRANDEMiX for President!

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