The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Bank of America tries a 1996 strategy to save reputation in preparation for possible WikiLeaks problems

This is the most incredibly naive strategy I have ever heard a bank attempt, at least in this decade.  At a minimum the person /group who is purchasing the domains should know better and have told BofA that the lunacy of this approach is that now people will actively go after BofA just to make a point

“The WikiLeaks strategy: Bank of America buys up abusive domain names” | Finextra for the original story & Slashdot for some amusing and but insightful comments from folks who know:

According to Domain Name Wire, the US bank has been aggressively registering domain names including its board of Directors’ and senior executives’ names followed by “sucks” and “blows”.
For example, the company registered a number of domains for CEO Brian Moynihan: BrianMoynihanBlows.com, BrianMoynihanSucks.com, BrianTMoynihanBlows.com, and BrianTMoynihanSucks.com.

Lets just count some of the ways this is guaranteed to fail.

  1. words such as BrianMoynihanSucks can be replicated in incredibly inventive ways.    There are thousands of alternatives for just this one.  Here are 3 simplistic ones.
  1. BrianMoynihanSux
  2. BrianMoynihanSucx
  3. BrianMoynihanSucks2
  • url shortners such as bitly make urls kind of redundant for pointing people to a site of your choice
  • chasing anything to do with urls is a losing game.  This became obvious to me as early as 1996 when the issue of url squatters arose.  The rocket scientists in marketing wanted to purchase all the possible urls for their products and services first off, and secondly they were shocked that we had missed yourbanksucks.com.  Now we know that it does not matter, and if it did you cannot fight it.  Do not encourage cyber squatters by giving in to them.  Its the same as giving in to blackmail.
  • Relevance to Bankwatch:

    I thought we had learned and moved on.  In the 2010 internet world, social media is the driver of at a minimum negative reputations.  There are 2 lessons for BofA here:

    Lesson 1:  you cannot buy your way to information containment, and you cannot contain information.  Eventually it will be out.  Those days were actually gone 15 years ago.  I now understand that the internet/ web thinking at BofA has not matured one iota since the last time I sat in a session on social media at a Forrester conference in 2007 and listened to one of their (BofA) marketing people outline that internet was too dangerous for reputations so they would not be participating in blogging or such things.

    Lesson 2: social media is a mainstay today.  You layer on the ‘troll’ effect and something like this where lesson 1 has not been learned is simply an invitation to a PR disaster.

    What should BofA do?

    • definitely prepare defensive remarks
    • go on the offence now.  Leak your own stuff with your words.  I have no idea what the topics are but there are ways to manage information out in chunks that minimise bad impacts and take the wind out of WikieLeaks sails.
    • there is damaging and there is illegal.  Do your own assessment, and take actions to remove people now that did illegal things.  Make changes to correct the damaging things, such as new processes.
    • empahsise that your money is safe and make new customer offers that prove it.
    • talk to a smart PR firm.  Yours are displaying bad judgment here on this particular strategy.

    PS…  just in case I fell into the troll category, I thought I would independently check the status of some of those urls and if BofA are doing this.  I cannot confirm BofA are but I can confirm an unusually high amount of activity to register these domains ALL on 17th December, 2010 by MarkMonitor.  Oh and MarkMonitor manage the bankofamerica.com domain (see below).

    PPS… Markmonitor position themselves as fighting online brand abuse and this is one of their declared strategies on their site against cyber-squatting.  I thought (above) we decided cyber-squatting was something best to ignore back in 1996?

     

       Domain Name: BRIANMOYNIHANSUCKS.COM
       Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC.
       Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
       Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
       Name Server: NS1.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS2.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS3.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS4.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS5.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS6.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS7.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Status: clientDeleteProhibited
       Status: clientTransferProhibited
       Status: clientUpdateProhibited
       Updated Date: 17-dec-2010
       Creation Date: 17-dec-2010
       Expiration Date: 17-dec-2012

     

    Domain Name: BRIANMOYNIHANSUCKS.NET
       Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC.
       Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
       Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
       Name Server: NS1.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS2.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS3.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS4.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS5.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS6.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS7.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Status: clientDeleteProhibited
       Status: clientTransferProhibited
       Status: clientUpdateProhibited
       Updated Date: 17-dec-2010
       Creation Date: 17-dec-2010
       Expiration Date: 17-dec-2012
     
    Domain ID:D160981071-LROR
    Domain Name:BRIANMOYNIHANSUCKS.ORG
    Created On:17-Dec-2010 17:26:45 UTC
    Last Updated On:17-Dec-2010 17:26:47 UTC
    Expiration Date:17-Dec-2012 17:26:45 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:MarkMonitor Inc. 

     

       Domain Name: BRIANTMOYNIHANSUCKS.COM
       Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC.
       Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
       Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
       Name Server: NS1.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS2.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS3.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS4.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS5.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS6.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Name Server: NS7.MARKMONITOR.COM
       Status: clientDeleteProhibited
       Status: clientTransferProhibited
       Status: clientUpdateProhibited
       Updated Date: 17-dec-2010
       Creation Date: 17-dec-2010
       Expiration Date: 17-dec-2012
     
       Domain Name: BANKOFAMERICA.COM
       Registrar: MARKMONITOR INC.
       Whois Server: whois.markmonitor.com
       Referral URL: http://www.markmonitor.com
       Name Server: NS1.BANKOFAMERICA.COM
       Name Server: NS3.BANKOFAMERICA.COM
       Name Server: NS4.BANKOFAMERICA.COM
       Status: clientDeleteProhibited
       Status: clientTransferProhibited
       Status: clientUpdateProhibited
       Updated Date: 21-jan-2009
       Creation Date: 28-dec-1998
       Expiration Date: 28-dec-2012
     

    Written by Colin Henderson

    December 24, 2010 at 17:57

    Posted in Uncategorized

    3 Responses

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    1. One word: Google Bomb

      dude

      December 25, 2010 at 00:33

    2. […] Bank of America tries a 1996 strategy to save reputation in preparation for possible WikiLeaks probl… […]

    3. […] a follow up to Bank of America’s dumb url strategy idea noted late last year, one outcome is a new cottage industry described in this Finextra post, […]


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