Sunday, August 1, 2010

Deb from GE Capital – Lending a Hand and Jammin’ with Bob

I still read The Economist most weeks. And I still think it’s an interesting and worthwhile magazine. But I still come across an ad in The Economist every now and then that makes me want to enlist in some radical Anarchist group, or at least throw myself in front of a subway on my way to work. And when I saw this ad that involved a bank, nice guitars and musicians, I felt even more nauseous than I usually do when reading an Economist ad:

The copy says: “People don’t just come to GE Capital for money. They come to us for help. To build something. The word ‘lend’ has a couple of meanings. Like the part where it’s not simply about expecting something in return, to lend a hand. We’re helping to bring music to people. What’s better than that? GE is invested in Taylor Guitars.”

And there’s ol’ Bob Taylor, President of Taylor Guitars, and sweet Deb Barker of GE Capital sittin’ around in the Taylor warehouse jammin’, like Deb decided to stop in unannounced one Thursday night with a six pack to see if Bob wanted to just shoot the shit and jam a little.

The whole idea of this is so ridiculous and so nauseating, it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s take it from the top.

First of all, I think anyone who has ever learned to play four chords on a guitar would agree with me that Deb Barker does not play guitar. It looks like the photographer for this ad shoot got Deb’s fingers all set up to play an open E major chord. I don’t know what she’s doing with her right hand, but it’s not something I’ve ever seen anyone do while playing a guitar. She might have a prosthetic arm, or no nerve endings in her fingers, but she is most definitely not strumming that nice Taylor guitar that Bob let her play with.

Next, let’s discuss the idea of GE Capital focusing on the “lend a hand” part of lending and not the “expecting something in return” part. I suppose it’s possible that Deb extended a big hefty term loan to Bob and told him to just do his best, have fun, make beautiful music and get her the money back whenever he thought the time was right. If that were the case, I’d say Deb was about as legitimate a banker as she is a guitar player. In reality, when Bob’s business softened, it wouldn’t matter how many super fun hang-out sessions Deb and Bob had and what total BFFs they had become. When clarifying to Bob about the whole “not expecting anything in return” for the cash, it’ll turn out that Deb neglected to mention that, well, she didn’t expect anything other than for him to meet his default trigger covenants and to service his debt payments on time. And at the end of the day, if Bob sold three less Taylor guitars in a year than contemplated by the financial projections he used to get the loan, then Deb would call Bob’s loan and swoop in to foreclose on his business so fast it would make Eddy Van Halen’s head spin. And if Deb’s boss at GE Capital got wind of her having lent money to Bob “to help bring music to people” and without “expecting anything in return,” Deb would be shit-canned faster than BP’s CEO after the oil spill.

Lastly, does this ad actually work? Aren’t the people who read The Economist supposed to be sophisticated, world travelling business titan types who make cold, rational decisions based on the hard numbers and without the childish distraction of emotion and feeling? Does anyone see this ad and think “wow, you know, it really would be nice to borrow money from a bank that just wants to lend in the ‘lend a hand’ kind of way. And that Deb, she looks like she’d really be a fun friend, and she must play guitar really well.” Are The Economist readers really such incredible schmucks, just like all the rest of us hoi polloi? GE Capital and its ad agency obviously think so.

There’s nothing wrong with GE Capital. It’s a bank. It lends money and tries to make money, which is the reason banks exist. And there’s probably nothing wrong with Deb Barker, except that she looks stupid trying to pretend she plays guitar. And there’s nothing wrong with a bank saying that it lends money to “lend a hand… without expecting anything in return” except that it’s ridiculous, bogus and such outrageous bullshit that it’s insulting to even utter the words. If Bob Taylor decided he needed some funds from GE Capital to expand his business, that’s all well and good. But if he was looking for a cute friend to gab and noodle with, he should go play some bar gigs and try to pick up a groupie.


mediaslinger said...

makes me glad i don't have a taylor.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that GE debt has been backed by the full faith and credit of our citizens' wallets since the bailouts. But, don't worry! GE's CEO is on the Economic Recovery Board. Simply embarassing.

As a man that's worn out the frets on one Taylor already, and worked for GE in the past, I'd like to say the commercial helped me to think a bit less of both companies. Not because of usury, even though I'm not a big fan of it, but simply because the commercial is fluff and deception. It's propaganda seemingly devoid of a meritorious (& true) message. Running a decent business, whether you're a debtor, creditor, or neither, must involve merit and deliver value. In general, if you depend on your lender to provide successful business plans and practices Taylored [sic] to your needs, forget it.

Some of the Taylor guitars from the 90s were outstanding. Haven't sampled recent ones. Edison had several excellent ideas.

Anonymous said...

Taylor used to be good but its cool factor has dropped and its marketing is bland and generic. This is a new low.