July 23, 2002
Wanted to start off by talking about Citi and Worldcom. First off, noticed a resassurance letter from ConEd in the NYT this evening (after that transformer exposion) which coincided with the one from WorldCom in the Journal this morning, which reminded me of O’Neal’s and Komansky’s in the Journal several weeks ago.
As arrogant as it is, I can’t help thinking to myself that I wish they’d do a good job instead of spending their time writing reassurance letters.
Although, wait a minute. TheConEd letter was (I think) from the company. As was another from AT&T - but this was to gain market share.
AT&T: Makes sense (maybe). Although the format of the ad as a reassurance letter makes them look somewhat weak, perhaps they are actually trying to capitalize by forcing a compairson to the other telecom companies by using the format, by apologizing / reassuring. This can only come out favorably as a comparison. That pitch at the end (“let’s see which contract is right for you”) differentiates them in particular.
So while I dislike the tone of the ad, it is, in fact an ad, at least. Not an apology.
Merrill Lynch: Well, I have to remind myself that quite possibly Komanksky’s and O’Neal’s participation was limited to posing for the photo, so it’s not like they were wasting time on this.
Still, ethics for the time being seem to be a real issue, and certainly Schwab is trying to capitalize on this. Oh yes, and Morgan Stanley (TV ads obnoxious, horrific acting). So wasn’t there anything they could do? In advance to have headed this off? What were they out of touch with? Did they lose touch with the bankers purposely, or inadvertently in giving them free rein to bring in revenues?
ConEd: Definite case of “get it right in the first place”. Sometimes when I make a mistake I try to resist the urge to apologize - either because all it does is remind people of my error, or because it wastes other people’s time and serves no purpose other than to assuage my own guilt.
WorldCom: Company with very bad PR crisis. Might actually make people feel better to know that WorldCom is still carrying Internet, long-distance traffic (was this mentioned in the ad?) Sort of, they can’t fail, or, you should continue trusting us because you do right now (because you have no choice? Too sinister, also probably wrong).
Still, can’t get over feeling Sidgmore must have spent time helping to craft the ad as PR is WorldCom’s business right now. The way Welch oversaw GE ads in his day, also similar to Enrico, other cola execs. Does the ad really help that much? Could time have been better spent?