One love, one bank

I think if I had the right rifle and the right angle I could end this hideous abomination with one clean shot.

*deep breath*

This little internal morale-fluffer seems innocuous enough, and by middle-aged corporate white guy standards it might even pass for clever. Hey, maybe if you’re part of the Bank of America context and you know all the people personally, this rip of the U2 classic is actually pretty funny and uniting and let’s-run-out-of-the-room-and-conquer-the-industry inspiring.

However, in a world with YouTube and zillions of people who see everything they ever cared about commodified and used to sell toothpaste every day, BoA has perhaps crossed a line. No, there won’t be torches and pitchforks and a mad dash to the barricades (a la the OJ/FOX “If I Did It” trainwreck, which has now been cancelled), but there is this: now the BoA brand is being mocked by a very popular comedian and an alternative guitar icon in a way that effectively positions the bank as the anti-brand of choice for millions. A former student of mine told me a few minutes ago that he was going to call his friend, who’s in a very popular band, to suggest that they start covering the BoA version, too.

Wow – how very viral.

There are lessons here. For one thing, corporate meetings ain’t Vegas (what happens there doesn’t necessarily stay there), and for another, when you do something that you think is funny, you need to be sure that your key constituencies agree with you. If the Pat Boone crowd you work with is laughing but your customers are more the Green Day type, you might oughta seek some external validation. (And if you need to be told this, you’re probably in the wrong line of work to start with.)

Time will tell whether this achieves the sort of mythic status of, say, the Appalachian is Hot Hot Hot debacle, but as somebody who doesn’t believe art’s higher purpose has anything to do with moving product, I can only hope so.

[xposted to the IABC Branding Commons, where we’ll see if any of my professional peers object to my tone; for that matter, feel free to wander over there and wake up the comment board if you feel so moved…]

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