Congratulations to the New York Stock Exchange for the brilliant PR/marketing idea of transforming traders into corporate shills. What a terrific concept!
The Big Board gets the ball rolling this Friday with its first dress-down day as long as the men and women traders trade their suits for the Gap's 1969 Premium Jeans.
Pants police, alert. The San Francisco-listed company is spending millions to promote the new line. [If you act fast and log on to gap.com, you can get a $20 discount on the pair of jeans.] In the NYSE/Gap promo, the traders get new duds and Gap execs get to ring the closing bell remotely from S.F.
The only question is whether NYSE boss Duncan Niederauer will join the fun and get down with the Gap.
The Big Board shouldn’t stop there. There is more work needed to pump up the fortunes of both listed companies and the economy.
How about getting traders to wear FedEx uniforms for the day? CEO Fred Smith surely needs a boost as the economy has delivered a wallop to the courier outfit's bottom line. Fourth-quarter revenues (ended May 31) plunged 20 percent, while its operating loss soared to $849M from $163M last year. FedEx’s shares are bumping along at $64.24, down from $86.96 a year ago. The promo could also involve a FedEx courier delivering a new bell for Smith to ring on the NYSE podium to the rousing cheers of the uniformed Fedex wannabes in the trading pits. Think of the ink.
There's more fun to be had. Nobody is eating out much these days, especially in mid-range eateries. That's bad news for NYSE-listed company Darden Restaurants, which reports same-store sales are down for the year at its Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse units. How about treating the hungry traders to a late lunch/early dinner? Darden could arrange for its Times Square Olive Garden, a fave among tourists, to ship trays of its Lasagna Classico and Chicken Parm downtown. Darden would get a neat video of the once-again well-tailored traders chowing down. It’s not everyday that a bunch of Wall Street suits eat at Olive Garden, but even traders need to pull in their financial horns.
More promos. The Bank of Hawaii, which currently trades at $39.94 — off a $70 high — could deliver leis to the people on the floor, reminding everyone of the charms of the Aloha State. A Don Ho tribute band could perform "Tiny Bubbles" and other musical gems from Ho's songbook.
Tourism-dependent Hawaii is suffering its worst recession since becoming a state 50 years ago, according to today’s Wall Street Journal. Dole, which plans an IPO, could provide a few thousand pineapples for the festivity. Pina Coladas for all.
Closer to home: How about Citi Field cap day! Traders could don New York Mets hats -- with the nifty Citi logo on the side -- in a show of solidarity to the beleaguered bank and the M*A*S*H Unit in Queens masquerading as a ballpark. Hundreds of unsold Mets tickets could be showered on the traders.
Think of Abbie Hoffman tossing dollar bills onto the floor as a sign of protest during the '60s. Today, there would be a mad scramble for the ducats among those brave enough to watch the Amazin’ Mets in action. [Note to true warrior David Wright: shut it down for the rest of the year.]
The PR geniuses at the NYSE have their work cut out. It's not enough to just ring the opening bell to get some media attention. The world is your oyster.
Speaking of oysters, how about...