You know your company is in trouble when the chief marketing officer gets more press than the CEO. And it’s in really, really deep trouble when the CMO is seen distancing herself from the company’s strategic blunders.
That’s what we saw over the weekend in the New York Times piece on Anne Finucane, “chief image officer” for Bank of America. According to the Times, Finucane “warned against” Bank of America’s acquisition of Countrywide, whose bad loans and legal troubles remain a continuing source of pain for the bank.
But it’s an odd choice by BofA to have the CMO profiled at a time when the bank’s business structure an performance are under fire. But then, perhaps CEO Brian Moynihan simply won’t talk.
That certainly was the case in a recent Wall Street Journal article, which suggested he was prepared to retreat from some banking markets because of the severity of the bank’s problems. Moynihan was not quoted, nor was any bank official aside from a spokesperson, who weakly offered a bland statement that didn’t address the article’s main contention.
Even without making Moynihan available, the bank should have had a much stronger response to a story that relied entirely on anonymous sources. (As ever, the WSJ helpfully provided cover for a senior executive or board member with an agenda, like promoting a preferred successor to Moynihan.)
Give Finucane credit for at least understanding that the bank’s image (and stock price) won’t rebound until it addresses its business issues. No amount of creative image-making can substitute for that.