In 2005, I worked for IPG on the Bank of America account. When it went into review many people criticized the "Higher Standards" brand platform for not being "creative" like the CitiBank advertising. I always felt those criticisms were misguided and failed to see the bigger picture.
I wasn't involved in the creation of "Higher Standards" but I believed, and still do, that it was a very smart and strategic platform that informed how the brand should be articulated in every channel and behave at every customer touchpoint.
As clever as Citi's tv spots and outdoor ads were, "Live Richly" didn't have a life beyond those executions. For example, it didn't provide a "script" for interaction with consumers in the branches or in call centers. Where were the glib witticisms when I called to ask about the confusing fees I was charged?
My fear at the time, was that the work that went into building such a strong platform would be slowly destroyed or wiped out wholesale when the account was moved from IPG to Omnicom. I made joking predictions about the terrible spots that would inevitably be produced, "Hello, I'm Lou Diamond Phillips for Bank of America..." (BBDO's approach of using celebrities in their spots is widely recognized and joked about.) It became a gag I repeated through the transition period as we handed the account over to Omnicom and BBDO.
This evening someone sent me the following link: Kiefer Sutherland: Out of Jail and In the Bank.
Lou Diamond Phillips isn't the new spokesperson for Bank of America as I had predicted years ago, but I wasn't far off. It looks like his Young Guns costar, Kiefer Sutherland will be the new voice of the brand. (I thought my head was going to pop off like a spring loaded grape when I saw this.)
From the Mediabistro post:
"We hear Kiefer Sutherland is set to be the voice of Bank of America. To my recollection, BoA has an in-house staff that handles their ads, correct me if I'm wrong. But if the spots are anything like these old spots, they'll suck, cuz Sutherland sounds like someone is squeezing his testes."
Whether this is proof positive that I am a seer, a vessel, a channel through which the subtle forces of the universe flow, or much of the world is simply tediously predictable, is yet to be decided. I suspect that both are true.
One closing note. Given the current economy and recent credit-crisis I've thinking about how much better Bank of America would be served by "Higher Standards" than it is by the campaign that replaced it, "Bank of Opportunity". There is plenty of opportunism afoot these day and so few examples of higher standards but it's beyond my control... it's beyond my control... it's beyond my control...