I’m not familiar with the history or operations of Ally Bank at all, but I know that they do one thing very well. They happen to have an amazing marketing team that knows exactly how to appeal to their target audience of banking customers with a fond appreciation of irony. Although I do not have a great deal of money at all, I appreciate the way in which Ally Bank consistenly points out in commercial after commercial some of the biggest problems with the banking industry–cheating long-term customers out of potential gains, stealing from customers through excessive fees, and a lack of attention to personal customer service. Not only has the bank made their points, which are aiming (admittedly) at low-hanging fruit within the financial industry, but they have made those points with considerable humor and irony. Let us count the ways. Ally customer made use of a well-respected Nobel prize winning economist to prove its point that no one knows what interest rates will be like in two years to promote its own products that pass along at least some increase in interest rates to long-term depositors. Likewise, Ally Bank has made use of a couple of naturalistic observations to show the annoyance of people in dealing with machines rather than a person at a laundromat and the general trustworthiness of strangers in keeping watch over large amounts of money (in contrast to the lack of trustworthiness of banks in preserving the accounts of their customers).
This is brilliant advertising, and we must give credit to the company for their skillful knowledge of the concerns of their audience. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with the behavior of bankers in this world (not only in the United States), whether we are dealing with monetary policy or bailouts or the burden of austerity. I am certainly not going to pretend that people who got a bigger mortgage than they could afford through NINJA loans in the hope that they could profit off of flipping properties or those of us (myself included) who have suffered the consequences of having too much debt are blameless. Far from it. That said, the behavior of banks with regards to their own customers as well as the genearal base of taxpayers within the nations of the world has been shameless and provocative to a large extent, and there are legitimate reasons for a great deal of discontent at the behavior of banks and the governments that support them. Ally Bank, whatever the reality of their behavior and conduct (which I am unfamiliar with) at least sees the need of presenting itself as an ally of the population at large and not as an enemy or exploiter of the people. It seems odd that this is not a more common strategy, as it would appear obvious to me that banks need a better reputation with the people and that seeking to persuade people that one supports their interests and well being is a better strategy than assuming that the opinion of others is of no value whatsoever.
There are obvious implications of this for our own personal lives as well. As we are not mindreaders as human beings, the reality of our thoughts and concerns about others is not something that we can assume others will understand. In addition, caring about what others feel and think is often a necessary step in order for them to care for us and respect us. Concern that is felt and not recognized might as well not exist, something I sadly have pondered about often over the course of my life in dealings with others. To some extent, therefore, regardless of our aptitude (or lack thereof) in marketing or presentation, any concern for others must trigger the need to convey and communicate that concern so that others may recognize it and respond accordingly. Our money needs allies, but we need people in our lives to care about us and we all have other people we care about too. Sometimes it just has to be made more plain. We could all stand to improve our efforts in this area; I know I could.