Thursday, November 03, 2005

Life Is Love And Also How You Spend Your Money

A new bank recently opened in my neighborhood, just around the corner from the dream-house. And because it’s the East Village, the folks at North Fork have tried to make the bank “fit in” with the neighborhood, so as to better attract local clients. Hence its pseudo-café-esque and cliché-ingly hip demeanor.

What bugs me most is a small mural inside, painted just below the main row of bank tellers. It pictures a young woman, pink-haired and wearing a low-cut sexy dress, and she’s spray painting some graffiti on a brick wall. Let me tell you, it really brought me back to my younger days.

But it’s what the girl’s actually spray painting that kills me. Her message reads as follows:

Life Is Love.

And though I do generally agree with her world philosophy, reading it makes me want to barf a little bit.

Actually, not true. I never want to barf. What I mean to say: North Fork’s whole campaign here makes me vaguely uncomfortable and even a little embarrassed for them. It’s not unlike the aging, pony-tailed dude at the party, bragging about the Lifehouse CD he just bought.

I understand companies identifying their target market and pursuing it. Being a wise businessman myself, I know for a fact that a good marketing angle can make or break a company. But most other campaigns—Saturn’s whole kind-hearted family thing, Citibank’s “Love Life Not Money,” Dove’s bizarrely hypocritical “Real Women, Real Curves” firming cream—these guys can at least pull it off with some grace. At least enough to avoid embarrassment.

I’ve accepted that every company will ceaselessly attempt to manipulate me into buying their brands and their products for the rest of my life. Yes, I hate it, but I’ve moved on. And if a company does a good job with their marketing? I'm happy to give them a knowing, good-job-even-though-I-still-hate-you nod.

But North Fork? Come on, guys. Please stop trying so hard, and please don’t insult my intelligence, and please don’t remind me that I’m really just a consumer and nothing more. Just be comfortable with who you really are, as a bank, and I’m sure you’ll do just fine.


mjs said...

i was a temp at north fork for eight months before i got my current job. don't put your money in there. seriously. i'm not going to get into details on the blog for a group i'm not even in, but you'll have to trust me. bank at commerce.