Merrill’s Bull Is Charging Back—But Will It Fall Down?

Bank of America is trotting back out Merrill Lynch’s iconic bull image as part of a $20 million advertising campaign to reposition Merrill’s wealth-management unit as one of the good guys.

Merrill Lynch
Merrill Lynch

The bull is “bigger, better and stronger than ever,” Sallie Krawcheck, the new president of global wealth and investment management at Bank of America, said on CNBC Monday.

The bull had largely vanished in the past year since the financial meltdown — you know, the one Merrill Lynch played a huge part in — as the company tried to lay low while the government and Bank of America rescued them.

With this new campaign, they want to let people know they’re not the bad guys, they’re the good guys — the guys who will hold your hand as you wade back into the market.

But branding expert Rob Frankelsaid this campaign is going to backfire on them.

Merrill Lynch Ad
Merrill Lynch Ad

What Merrill — and the rest of Wall Street for that matter — should be doing is creating an entirely new brand, Frankel said.

You need three things for a successful brand, Frankel said: Authority, clarity and credibility.

“Merrill Lynch has authority,” he said, but added: “I doubt sincerely that they’re going to come through with any sort of clarity — and their credibility is pretty weak.”

“Unless they come up with a brand strategy that fixes those two out of three, they’re hosed,” he said.

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