Prior to the financial crisis, virtually no one outside of lower Manhattan would have been able to say whether Goldman Sachs was an investment bank or a burlap manufacturer. That all changed after the mayhem of 2008 – particularly when Matt Taibbi gave the nation a mental image of a vampire squid to remember the bank by.
In recent years Goldman has tried to mend its image through NPR sponsorships, podcasts and the like. But Thursday marked the elite bank's first-ever foray into the retail sphere: the launch of public ads for its new banking arm.
Charmingly named Marcus – a nod to the bank's 19th-century founder, German émigré Marcus Goldman – the unit offers credit card loan consolidation to Tom, Dick and Harry. And with its new advertisements, Marcus proves that Goldman, too, can be boring as hell.
True to form, Goldman's first mass-audience ad opens to the refined tinkling of a harpsichord. But the contents are familiar TV fodder: everyday hiccups and domestic snafus, a reassuring voiceover, a winky acknowledgment at the end that “debt happens.” There's a puppy.
Yawn. Previously, CEO Lloyd Blankfein has said, “I would say in general, we never publicized what we did anywhere.” Now that they have, we can all go back to longing for the days of the shadowy blood-sucking multinational. “Marcus” just doesn't get the dander up.