AIG: Promotion Its Payback

AIGIn 2008, there was a global meltdown of the financial markets.  Most experts feel the financial institutions and lax government policies contributed to this financial disaster.  Many companies did not survive.  In the U.S., a number of financial companies survived due to a bailout from the Federal government.  Among those receiving a bailout was AIG, a financial/insurance company.  AIG received a little over $182 billion dollars in the bailout.  In return, the U.S. government received stock in the company.  Taxpayers had mix reactions about their money being used to bailout financial companies that had helped to create the problem.  The term “too big to fail” was used as a justification.  In other words, these large companies were important and their failure would make the economic situation worse.  Even some experts thought the U.S. government would not recoup the money it loaned AIG.

By the end of 2012, the U.S. government had sold all of its shares of AIG and turned a profit of over $22 million on the deal.  Still the reputations of financial institutions that took bailouts remained grim.  Most people still disliked the bailouts and had negative views of financial institutions.

AIG decided to promote its repayment and thank the people of the U.S.  On January 1, 2013, AIG launched its “Thank You America” campaign.  Here is a description of the effort and comments from AIG:

“We at AIG are proud of not only our work to rebuild the company, but also the work we do every day to help guarantee that customers and communities are prepared for the opportunities and challenges ahead – work we never stopped doing, even during the depths of the financial crisis,” said AIG President and Chief Executive Officer Robert H. Benmosche. “We thank America for allowing us to insure a brighter future and to bring on tomorrow.”

The new campaign will run for two weeks, and will include broadcast, online, and print placements. Television ads will run on high impact programming: sporting events, including NCAA Football Bowl Championship Series games and NFL playoff games; national morning shows including The Today Show and Good Morning America; and primetime television, including The Golden Globes, 60 Minutes, and Dateline. Print ads will appear in upcoming issues of major publications, including The Economist, The Financial Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USAToday, The Wall Street Journal, and major trade journals. Online ads buys include a masthead and mobile roadblock on YouTube, and homepage takeovers of nytimes.com, MSN.com, WSJ.com and Yahoo!. The campaign will also be promoted on social media and can be seen on AIG’s YouTube channel.

AIG promoted the campaign on social media.  Its Facebook page had links to the campaign, its videos were on YouTube, and here is a Tweet about it:

AIG’s Thank You, America #ad just ran on the #BiggestLoser Are you watching? RT if you saw it, or catch it again here http://www.youtube.com/AIG?x=us-en_showcase2_86_15 …

The campaign highlights the pay back but also shows the different ways AIG has been helping Americans recover from disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.  The message is a positive one of repayment and recovery for AIG and the U.S. We will have to see how people react to these messages.

Questions to Consider?

1.  What are the benefits to AIG of this campaign?

2.  What are the dangers to AIG of this campaign?

3.  Why would AIG be using such a heavy push in social media and legacy media?

4.  If you were at AIG, how would you defend taking the original bailout money?

5.  Why do financial institutions have a lingering reputation problem?

6.  What other actions need to be taken to help financial institutions repair their reputations and why will these actions help?

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