charm offensive

Goldman Sachs Buffs Tarnished Brand

Posted by Barry Silverstein on June 23, 2010 03:30 PM

Big bank Goldman Sachs is trying to repair its reputation, damaged by charges of civil fraud and a criminal investigation — never mind an embarrassment of riches in the firm's report of over $13 billion of net earnings in 2009.

So it may come as no surprise that Goldman Sachs is reportedly considering everything from an ad campaign to an appearance on The Oprah Show by CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Fiona Laffan, head of media relations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Goldman Sachs, publicly stated that "mistrust and hatred of bankers, not just those at Goldman Sachs, remained near an all-time high and that the bank, as an industry leader, needed to do a better job of explaining what it did and how."

Goldman Sachs has already gone on the offensive.

It's now posting information and answers to questions on its website — the first time the firm has departed from a more standard services-offered approach. Included is a list of the firm's viewpoints, including letters to the editors and responses to media reports.

But is Goldman Sachs ready for prime time? A corporate branding push is under consideration, but, according to the New York Post, the firm may "trickle out ads and target a broader public" rather than mounting a major image rebuilding campaign.

The Post reports that public perception of Goldman Sachs has been "steadily negative" since last Septemberg, citing BrandIndex to indicate Goldman Sachs "ranks alongside oil giant BP in terms of negative 'buzz.'"

Indeed, echoing the disastrous Washington grilling of BP CEO Tony Hayward, Laffan said that Blankfein's Senate hearing "was one of the most challenging things he had to go through in his career."

As for Blankfein's media outreach, don't expect any couch-jumping "mea culpa" to Winfrey any time soon.

"There are [Goldman executives] who think we should go on Oprah," said Laffan. "I'm not one of them." The Post also cited Goldman sources in calling an Oprah pitstop "unlikely."

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