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Did Bear Stearns Fail Because It Didn't Market Itself?

A new study from marketing experts at Interbrand suggests that Bear Stearns may have bungled it's marketing starting all the way back in the 1990 recession, at time when rival Merrill Lynch spent far more to market its brand to the market than Bear.
"Merrill Lynch was seeing the return on its early '90s branding investment in its ability to build and leverage its reputation in a broader market. It may have outspent Bear Stearns to do so, but the positive return was clear," Interbrand says.
Of course, Bear was in a very different business than Merrill, which has a much broader retail business. (And Interbrand is obviously conflicted here. It's hard to imagine a marketing company urging customers not to spend more on marketing.)
Nonetheless, the contrast in early nineties stock performance is striking. Merrill outpaces the S&P every year while spending more while Bear more or less tracks the index. It certainly leaves open the possibility that if Bear had done a better job of explaining its business to the market, the market may have been more confident about its ability to survive and perform during the credit crunch.