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Bank of America Still Growing Despite Economic Problems-AdAge

Bank of America CMO Highlights Progress Amid Crisis
Finucane Delivers Remarkably Upbeat Speech to ANA

By Jack Neff

Published: October 17, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- Of all those who spoke on "growth" at the Association of National Advertisers' annual conference here today, none had a harder job arguably than Anne Finucane, chief marketing officer of Bank of America -- the iconically named bank that is one of the institutions at the heart of the financial crisis.

...

Of course, Bank of America did post a $1.1 billion profit last quarter, she said. And it happens to be strong enough to be a buyer, having acquired troubled mortgage originator Countrywide Financial Corp. in January.

But the differences in how Bank of America handled the marketing behind that deal compared to its campaign about nine months earlier for its then-healthy U.S. Trust operation showed a certain dexterity in reacting to crisis.

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For Countrywide, Ms. Finucane said, Bank of America opted for no advertising at all.

"Countrywide is about our long-term growth opportunities," she said. "It's also a perfect example of how we see the more expansive role [of marketing], including public policy, philanthropy and community outreach arenas that can help us demonstrate we're the bank of opportunity."

With Countrywide, the focus post-acquisition was on meeting with community development groups, nonprofits and housing experts and used testimony before the Federal Reserve Board in California and Illinois to demonstrate what she said is a positive role the bank is playing in the mortgage mess.

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Broadly, however, marketers attending seem to be showing resilience in the face of the downturn. A flash poll after the talk showed 39% of marketers planned to increase '09 spending, higher than the 33% who plan to cut it and the 28% who expect no change. When asked how they expect '09 spending to compare to '08, 26% of attendees said they would increase spending by more than 10%, 28% said spending would be stable, and 19% said they would decrease spending by more than 10%.

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