Ironic Ads From Before The Bailout: AIG, Countrywide, RBS, Bank Of America

Ironic Ads From Before The Bailout: AIG, Countrywide, RBS, Bank Of America

Ok, so we all know the world has changed. The financial markets have been upended, and we're all more than a little chastened by the excesses of the pre-recession era.

Still, it's worth looking back on some of the claims made by the world's largest financial institutions before the crisis. When it comes to their advertising copy, some of the biggest bailout recipients ran ad campaigns that were...well, let's just say they were eerily prophetic.

Take this AIG spot, for example. Keep in mind, that AIG made risky derivatives bets that nearly brought down the world economy. But, rest assured, AIG is proud that it knows the importance of taking chances in life!

"If nobody takes chances, if nobody pushes the boundaries, if nobody takes a stand, nothing great happens..."

It continues: "AIG - Insurance financial, services -- and the freedom to dare."

Or take Countrywide's ad, which goes a long way toward describing their lending standards. You'll recall, that Countrywide helped caused the subprime crisis:

"A growing family with a lot of debt, a young couple with no down payment a business owner who's income was hard to document. Every one of them was turned down by 3 different lenders. I'm with Countrywide, and I got them all approved."

In this ad, from the bailed out Royal Bank Of Scotland, which is now 60 percent owned by taxpayers, customers are literally portrayed as sheep. Sheep, really?

"They've always been your bank, but do you bank with them or might they be banking on you? Might they be banking on your apathy, your acquiescence?"

Washington Mutual was the biggest bank failure in U.S. history. What brought the company down? It must have been the "flexible lending rules" described in this ad, which apparently can help you survive scalding hot liquids, trips to the dentist's office, or being hit with bowling balls. (Yes, that's Scott Adsit of 30 Rock fame).

Ok, so this Bank Of America ad is from the 1950s. But offering jars of money to your customers? Probably a cause for concern:

"Ask your local Bank of America branch for a soothing jar of Money! M-O-N-E-Y!"

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