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Thursday, October 30, 2008

AIG: Brand trust, actions speak louder than words

Just don't get it. Don't understand what leadership could possibly be thinking. Because their actions are in such stark contrast with what you'd expect from an organization that should be doing all it can to win back our collective trust.

Maybe things like reputation and trust just don't matter to a leadership team who has already been bailed out once, and who've recently put in their second request for additional funds. Maybe it's easy to turn a blind eye when you know your back is covered, regardless of your actions.

Whatever the reasoning, why AIG would go off to Phoenix for a second boondoggle and spend another $340k (or thereabouts) is beyond my understanding. On top of this, to travel incognito and think that you wouldn't be exposed is just stupid. I called AIG, because I wanted some answers. I spoke with a senior member of their communications team. He told me that they traveled anonymously because AIG employees were being harassed as they entered their NYC headquarters. I was told that the majority of the trip was not actually paid for by AIG. But who cares? The reality of the situation is that we've bailed you out once, you're back again with your hand out, and you're at a resort in Phoenix.

I do feel for the vast majority of employees who had absolutely no knowledge of the incompetence and arrogance of their leadership. It's got to be very tough right now, and I'm sure, going to work each day really challenges their moral compass. In fact, the communications liaison I spoke with made a point of saying that he was not one of those fat cats. That he too is suffering through this.

At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Brand trust has eroded, and these actions just rip at brand reputation even further. From my vantage point, I see no signs that AIG is trying to endear itself to those of us (all of us) who bailed them out.

1 comment:

  1. Perception IS reality in the minds of people like me who view the actions of AIG as an outrage. Why would management think that the media would not expose their actions, especially when they had the express intent of HIDING their actions. Because of course, this was an important business meeting and no intelligent person would understand why they had to conduct business in disguise, at a pool. I understand that this trip may have been planned and paid earlier - but I don't care. Again, perception IS reality, and the reality is they are SPENDING my hard earned dollars. What better way to build back trust and respect than to lie to people ONCE AGAIN. Don't they know that trust and respect in a brand is built over time. Maybe hosting their next meeting at their headquarters is a better idea. And they can bring their own brown bag lunches as they are acting like children, so just follow through. The promise of the once responsible (and grown-up) AIG is gone forever!