An Open Letter to Bank of America

Dear Bank of America,

I just read a news story that you are looking for an agency to help you find a “North Star” to guide business and marketing decisions. I currently work as a strategic planner for a medium-sized agency and have spent most of my career talking with people about their financial services and lives. I have the answer you seek, for free. And it’s not a fancy phrase or catchy theme.

Quit being such jerks.

I’m not trying to be funny or cavalier. I’m dead serious. Quit being jerks. If you adopt that as your core value – not your new tagline, slogan or theme – you will start to make progress in repairing your relationship with the American public. Case in point: As I was talking about this story in the office, a colleague walking by heard “Bank of America” and went on a rant about the ridiculous fees being charged on all sorts of different products they use. By the way, they have moved their primary checking away from Bank of America and assured me that other products will follow.

Why? Because charging people outrageous fees to use entry level products like ATM cards, and shepherding customers away from personal interaction with tellers makes you guys look like dicks. And no matter who you hire as your AOR, they’re going to tell you that being a dick is bad for business.

My advice is to reflect on every decision you make, starting right now and ask yourself, “Will this make our customers love us, or will this make us look like jerks?” It’s that simple. Make this the mantra for every decision you make, and make it start at the top. You’ll be amazed at what will happen.

Kent Stones


On another note, I find it interesting that you are seeking the answer from large advertising conglomerates and not current, or better yet, ex-customers.

P.P.S. Ms. Finucane, during this process I recommend treating the agency pitch teams with the respect they deserve, and I urge you to temper your alleged “blunt” and “brutal” manner. Remember: you need them, not the other way around.