Friday, May 15, 2009

Oh my God! They're spending MONEY!

We met with a company the other day that had recently completed a re-branding effort and, while they had new things ready to go -- advertising, collateral and the rest -- they weren't releasing it just yet for fear of how it would look.

You know, lavish spending in tough times.

This is not an isolated incident.

For example, companies are reluctant to hold offsite meetings, regardless of whatever productivity gains might be achieved by getting away from the office (and you can thank AIG for that).

A friend of ours works for a large national bank and spends three days a week in New York City. She stays in a hotel instead of a corporate apartment and takes cabs to and from the airport instead of using a car service. A corporate apartment would save money. So would a car service. But you know, appearances.

I'm sure you know of more examples.

If I'm a shareholder and a company I own stock in has invested in new branding, I want them to get something out of it and start adding to the value of the company. If I'm a taxpayer who is helping finance various bailouts (and I am one of those), I want bank employees to make the best use of their money, appearances be damned. And if I'm a business owner and advertising can help my company get through this economy, I damn well want to do it, regardless of whether the guy next door thinks it's extravagant.

(Let's understand right here that there is a difference between effective, useful advertising, which you should do, and The Other Kind, which you should not.)

We could be getting close to a situation where we should change our national tag line (I guess it's called a motto) to "Pennywise and Pound Foolish for Appearance's Sake."

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