Feb 11, 2009

Culture of Excess

The New York Times delights in retelling anecdotal stories of corporate greed, but this one, buried inside a Dining section article on who should pick up the check, struck me as particularly telling:
One wealthy woman, the wife of a securities company executive, said he and his work friends used to play a game at dinner they called “credit card lottery” to decide who would pick up the check.

Each man, she explained, would take a credit card out of his wallet and toss it onto the table. Then someone — usually their server — would be asked to pick a card and bellow the owner’s name so everyone in the restaurant could hear. The “winner” would pay the bill, which often tallied $1,000 or more.

“It was disgustingly awful,” she said. “The waitress hated it. The wives were uncomfortable. It was a guy’s betting kind of thing, you know, ‘I’m a macho master of the universe.’ Thank God, no one is saying let’s play that game anymore.”
Now I live in a town with many Wall Streeters and have never witnessed anything remotely close to this, but it's less about how common it is than how outrageous. There's a lot of anger at bankers and brokers and corporate executives that's starting to flow over into all things corporate and official, including brands. It's something marketers need to be acutely aware of over the next year or so, when missteps will be amplified and potentially lethal.

In other words, here's one more reason to make your marketing plan customer-centric.

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