To prevent the flight, Credit Lyonnais, Europe's largest bank, broke an inventive, aggressive multimedia campaign to confess its sins and give customers reasons to stick around.
For years, state-owned Credit Lyonnais relied on ads by Publicis touting its "Power to Say `Yes."' Saying "Yes" to virtually all comers, however, loaded the bank's balance sheet with billions in dodgy loans and bad investments.
These follies explained CL's mounting losses-a staggering $2.4 billion last year. Defaults and expected write-offs became so great by March that France had to inject nearly $1 billion in new cash and underwrite the transfer of $27 billion of CL's nonperforming or weak assets into a new company.
To prevent client exodus, CL in August hired CLM/ BBDO to start an image campaign, which broke this year with a hat-in-hand theme: "Your Bank Owes You an Accounting."
On radio and TV, 10-second teasers acknowledge the bank's image problem but encourage the audience to learn more through 105-second TV spots shown that evening. The longer spots, airing at 7:55 p.m. nightly, detail CL's new policies and attitudes toward investments.
"What we're saying is that CL has gone through a rough period, is facing up to it, and is using the occasion to establish a new relationship with the client based on clarity, accountability, and honesty," explains Patrice Parmentier, CLM's client director. "These are .*.*. explanations of CL policy and advantages, and an honest message that `We want to earn money, you want to earn money, so let's work together as equal partners."'