"Life's better when we're connected."
That's Bank of America's (NYSE: BAC ) fresh slogan and new strategy. After CEO Brian Moynihan talked up Chief Marketing Officer Anne Finucane's rebranding efforts for over a year, the bank has begun to try and give its customers more of a warm-and-fuzzy feeling. Perhaps nothing highlights this shift more than the company replacing its former commercial voice-over narrator and intense 24 star Kiefer Sutherland with the lovable comedian Will Arnett in its new TV campaign.
After slowly resolving lawsuit after lawsuit, Moynihan can now shift more of his attention toward putting his money where his mouth has been since he grabbed the top spot at B of A. Moynihan has continuously promoted the bank's ability to serve any and all of its customers' and clients' financial needs.
While the strategy seems obvious, most banks, especially Bank of America, have struggled to shed the image of greedy, self-absorbed entities, an image that became so prevalent after the financial crisis. B of A's new strategy suggests it realizes that it has been a sub-par partner with so many of its clients, but that it just wants to start fresh and help customers achieve their goal.
Why investors should care
So what does some sappy marketing campaign need mean for investors? It may actually mean more than you think.
The banking sector, particularly Bank of America, is still seen as a rotten egg to many investors. This disgust has led to many investors dumping shares to avoid the stigma of being a shareholder. However, the disgust and avoidance has arguably led the banking sector to become one of the most undervalued sectors in the market.
If Bank of America can slowly build and regain goodwill with its customers and avoid any major strategic blunders, the hate may begin to wane. If the United States is known for anything, it's the willingness to give second chances (see Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods). As customers and investors both begin to open their hearts and investment portfolios to the once-troubled bank, shares could continue to move higher.
Will it work?
The bank's ability to execute this strategy in a way that leads to an increase in topline revenue remains in doubt. But for a bank that is trading at a 40% discount to its book value, pressure to rapidly grow revenue may still be years away.
A company's marketing department is often viewed as the most dispensable asset during tough times and is often scoffed during an investment decision. However, in the current low-interest rate, tepid loan demand, and highly regulated environment for banks, a warm-and-fuzzy ad campaign may be exactly what these vilified banks need.
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