Banks out-do BBC in bungling brand management

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Whilst the BBC’s mishandling of the Jonathan Ross affair is a strong contender for PR blunder of the month, I feel that the banks have pipped them to the post.

Love him or hate him, Ross hardly affects our lives. Bankers, on the other hand, have become some of the most resented people in the country since the start of the financial crisis – and their actions last week have only blighted their reputation even further.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that the public became used to hearing the high street banks announce ludicrous profits year on year. Next came the furor over bank charges and the perception that we were all being ripped off. Then of course stories began to appear about record multi-million pound bonuses for young, 20- something dealers.

All this was bad enough.  But when the banks began to collapse following imprudent lending and begged tax payers for emergency funds from the Treasury the public had had enough.

Britain is now officially in recession and most of us blame the banking system. Interest rates were dramatically lowered by 1.5% last week in a desperate attempt to boost consumer spending. What therefore would you expect the banks to go and do?

Well, Abbey craftily pushed up the margin on tracker products earlier in the week and then tried to take credit for “passing on the full rate cut”. Others banks simply withdrew mortgage products while others hopelessly dithered over what to do. What a PR disaster. An opportunity arose for the banks to demonstrate their concern for consumers and, instead, they launched a desperate attempt to improve their bottom line.

Let’s not be naïve. The banks’ primary concern is for their shareholders and not consumers. However, in view of the horrific press that they’ve been receiving, a thought for the lowly consumer would make a welcome change.