The release purported to be a call for help from the high-profile bank acknowledging financial pitfalls and referring to a website, yourbofa.com, which carries a letter from CEO Brian Moynihan expressing the inevitability that taxpayers will eventually own the company.
“And when the day comes that you, the American taxpayer, own this Bank, you will be ready to make it a Bank for America —one that brings benefits not to the privileged only, but to all of our customers, and to all of our stakeholders too," read the faux Moynihan letter.
The release said it was issued by Business Wire, but the company said it did not release the document.
Dow Jones said it mistakenly published the release after it was sent to a number of DJ and Wall Street Journal recipients. It ran via DJ at 9:15 a.m. April 18.
After the Wall Street Journal reported in a blog post that the release was fake at 10:52 a.m., DJ removed the release from its archives.
Bank of America told DJ it does not plan to take action against the sender of the email.
The stunt came a day before the bank was set to release its first quarter earnings today.
The yourbofa.com site remained online as of April 19.
The media contact on the release is listed as Bengo Guenther with a San Francisco phone number. Despite efforts to verify the authenticity of news releases, the sheer volume of releases and fewer newsroom staffers have likely contributed to a number of fake releases carried in media and via newswires over the past two years.
Text of fake release:
Bank of America Announces “Your Bank of America” Campaign, Partnership with Taxpayers to Revamp U.S. BankingDate(s): 18-Apr-2012 9:00 AM
As future clouds, opportunities arise for public synergy
CHARLOTTE, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 18, 2012– Bank of America today announced the launch of an unprecedented campaign to reach out to the American public for guidelines on how banking should happen. The campaign, Your Bank of America (www.yourbofa.com), leverages the American public’s disaffection with today’s banking practices into a full suite of real banking solutions.
“We may not have all the answers, but we’re confident that those answers exist,” said Brian Moynihan, Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America. “We want to make sure the American people are well positioned to assert control and implement changes in the direction of banking, in the eventuality that such control becomes feasible.”
“Bringing in the public sector is a good strategy for earning buy-in at a difficult time for our industry,” said Moynihan. “But this is not just a PR campaign: as the public uses our new website to share ideas of how banks should be run, we will see many ideas that are quite far ahead of the market norm. Running a bank in a sane and common-sense way isn’t rocket science—and that’s something the customer knows best.”
Read CEO Brian Moynihan’s “Letter to Fellow Americans.”
The unprecedented Your Bank of America campaign and rebranding effort is being announced on April 18th to mark the 106th anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake. After the earthquake, the fledgling Bank of America (at the time Bank of Italy) cemented its reputation as a trustworthy local institution by setting up a desk in the rubble to make loans to rebuild the city.
But Bank of America is no longer a local bank with local responsibilities. Bank of America currently controls more than 12% of America’s retail bank deposits and 17% of all American home mortgages, and serves tens of millions of consumers and small businesses in over 150 countries, as well as 80% of the Fortune 500 Global Companies. The bank is the single largest funder of a number of major US industries, like coal, is the number one underwriter of global high-yield debt, and is the third largest underwriter of global equity, ever since its 2009 purchase of Merrill Lynch. But despite its size, Bank of America stock has lost 75-80% of its value in five years, returning weak profits and ending in a near-junk credit rating.
“Our rapid growth, allowed by a relaxed regulatory framework, has resulted in a disconnect with the core values that governed our early years,” said Moynihan. “As we face the prospect of public oversight in the not-too-distant future, this is a wonderful time to reappraise how we perform, and to try out new approaches—or, at least, sow the seeds that will help others to do so.”
Look at our books here.
The Your Bank of America campaign has been designed in a spirit of honesty and transparency. Levelling with the American people about the current status of the institution’s finances is seen as a necessary first step in soliciting fresh new ideas for a way forward past any eventuality, including even receivership. “What do you want your bank to do for you?” “How should your bank’s core business work?” and “How can your bank contribute to a fair economy for all?” are just a few of the questions the firm is now seeking to answer.
See the ideas Americans are coming up with here.
“Your Bank of America will be every bit as innovative, equitable, and sustainable as our new partners can make it,” said Matthew S. McSlatter, Director of Post-Receivership Partnership Planning. “We are confident that from the wise many will emerge a new model, a new ethic, and a whole new Bank for America.”
“2008 saw financial institutions receive a federal rescue package, then go on to repeat the same errors that had brought them to that situation in the first place,” said McSlatter. “We’re confident that the American people could do better, whether given the receivership option or not.”
The firm is also soliciting design concepts for a soon-to-be tested global multi-media advertising campaign to announce the new Your Bank of America brand. “When people see their ideas take flight in the mediasphere, they get very excited,” said Kitty Carmichael, VP for advertising etc. “We can’t wait to see what people come up with.”
Visit the “Get Creative” page to submit an idea.
Contact: Bengo Guenther, [email protected], 415-754-8625.