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Bank of America Calls Woman Highly Offensive Name... Then Apologizes

By John Maxfield – Feb 26, 2014 at 3:39PM

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The nation's second largest bank narrowly avoided a public relations disaster after one of its credit card advertisements inadvertently called someone a "slut."

The following is a tale of how even a century-old institution like Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) can successfully negotiate a potential social media firestorm -- unfortunately, the same cannot be said for JPMorgan Chase.

Here are the basic facts. On February 6, a California writer received a credit card offer from Bank of America. It was addressed to "Lisa Is A Slut McIntire." To be clear, her first name is "Lisa" and her last name is "McIntire." But while we don't know her actual middle name, it seems relatively clear that it's not "Is A Slut."

For the rest, I'll defer to the Twitter conversation that ensued...

In short, McIntire was inducted into an honor society known as Golden Key. Someone inputting her information at said honor society appears to have made the changes sometime between 2004 and 2008. The information was then transferred to Bank of America, which automatically generated a credit card application for McIntire with the unfortunate handle. 

Given the media firestorm that erupted soon after McIntire posted her first message, it's actually quite impressive that Bank of America was able to quarantine the potential problem as well as it did -- to be fair, it probably helps that McIntire had a sense of humor about the ordeal.

More critically, however, it shows just how important it is for companies -- particularly consumer-facing ones like the Charlotte-based bank -- to proactively participate in social media channels. In this day and age, brand matters. And in this day and age, a brand can suffer almost immediate and irreparable damage from exchanges like the one above if they're not managed adroitly.

John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Bank of America. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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