Years in current job: 3
Quote: “If there's one thing I've learned in my career as a marketer, it is to embrace the interconnectivity of business, politics, journalism, the community, global events and how all those things shape our brands and people's perception of our company,” she said. “In other words, everything is connected.”
As global strategy and marketing officer at Bank of America, the country's largest bank holding company, Anne Finucane is the senior executive responsible for creating and communicating public strategy to customers and prospects, policymakers, local communities and advocacy groups, shareholders and the company's more than 282,000 employees. It's a job description that's impressive during good economic times but nearly heroic following the worst recession in decades.
Finucane's recent focus has been on restoring public good will in the wake of the financial and economic crisis, managing public policy issues and overseeing a marketing communications program that has become significantly more complex since the bank acquired Countrywide Financial (now Bank of America Home Loans) and Merrill Lynch.
To restore trust and good will among customers, the company took actions such as eliminating overdraft fees on debit card purchases and introducing simplified account summaries. “Rebuilding trust is not a challenge that can be met overnight,” Finucane said. “It's something that financial services companies and other businesses have to earn back over time and not simply through advertising.”
On the public policy front, Finucane has been instrumental in working with policymakers in Washington on new financial regulation. “Rather than resist new regulation, we deliberately embraced the core tenets of financial regulatory reform, helping shape some of the legislative details,” she said.
At the same time, Finucane has been busy integrating Bank of America's new acquisitions into its marketing efforts. “We went into the financial crisis as a fairly symmetrical U.S.-based brand and have emerged as a truly global company with a family of brands,” she said.
The company has continued its “help2” campaign, an integrated effort it rolled out last year to promote the Merrill Lynch brand, as well as its “Facts” campaign, launched in late 2008 to highlight the bank's continued lending, investing and charitable giving and to counter critics who said banks weren't providing credit to the marketplace.
This year, Finucane is particularly proud of a number of marketing initiatives, including a partnership with the History Channel on the 12-hour series “America: The Story of Us,” which ran in April. In addition to sponsoring the series, the bank produced 12 two-minute minidocumentaries about its own historical commitment to progress, prosperity and economic opportunity.
The company has also stepped up its use of new media, including social networks, online video and webinars. For example, a team of six customer relations managers monitor Twitter to answer questions and respond to concerns. Through @BofA_Help on Twitter, the bank has reached more than 3 million followers.
The bank's marketing efforts are paying off, with brand attributes such as trust, favorability and consideration on the rise, Finucane said. Still, rebuilding trust and good will takes time, so marketing communications, public policy engagement and community outreach will continue to focus on demonstrating the ways in which the bank helps set opportunity in motion, she said.
It's a tall—and complicated—order, but marketers must embrace big-picture thinking these days, Finucane said. “Successful marketers today must create a regular dialogue with their CEO and board of directors; stay on top of the news and where society is headed; develop talent with a mix of marketing skills and business acumen; integrate advertising and communications with public policy and corporate social responsibility; and champion their company's power to facilitate positive change,” she said.
—Mary E. Morrison