Goldman Sachs launches a new public relations campaign today with a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal touting the company's role in raising capital for a clean energy project.
The clean energy ad is the first of many that will tout the role of Goldman as a good citizen, a person familiar with the matter said.
Other ads may emphasize Goldman's role in providing business education to women and small business owners, the person said.
Goldman has suffered from bad publicity and political heat since the financial crisis began. It has been sued by the SEC for allegedly misleading investors, described as a "vampire squid" in the pages of Rolling Stone, and had its executives hauled before Capitol Hill committees. The prominent roles many of its executives have played in government, which Goldman long viewed as evidence of its public-mindedness, is now widely perceived as a source of undue influence by the company.
Today Goldman is running a full page advertisement on page A7 of the Wall Street Journal. The ad explains "How a plan to help a renewable energy company grow ended up creating more than just mega-watts."
"Progress is everyone's business. Harnessing an important resource like wind requires a lot of capital. So when a renewable energy company came to us, we found investors to help them grow. Because nvesting in a clean energy future is not only good for the environment, it's good for local businesses and communities. And for local employees, who have a new way to put their energy to work," the ad reads.
The text is accompanied by a large picture of wind turbines and a smaller picture of a worker.
The message seems to be an attempt to show that Goldman's investment banking activities make positive contributions to businesses, communities, the environment and jobs growth. Goldman, in short, is trying to show how it is playing a role at improving the lives of Americans rather than simply increasing its bottom line.
Not everyone is likely to be convinced. Those who believe that clean or green energy is likely to be the location of the next financial bubble will find it ironic that Goldman is trying to burnish its image by touting investment in windmills. When T. Boone Pickens, for instance, began promoting energy independence many thought it was a cynical attempt to boost the fortunes of his Clean Energy Fuels Corp .
(By the way, General Electric , the parent company of CNBC for at least a few more months, manufactures wind turbines and has several clean energy investments.)
A Goldman spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
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