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Monday, 16 August 2010

And so it came to pass: why Aviva is in the toilet - a saga of marketing ignorance and hubris

I often wonder what goes on in the heads of the people who run big financial institutions besides rapacious calculations.

At the time I commented on the stupidity of taking three famous and respected old brands, sticking them together in a series of mergers and giving the result a silly name that sounds like a mineral water or health supplement.

That is what some overpaid wanker did with Norwich Union, Commercial Union and General Accident to create a major disaster called Aviva.

Set aside the fact that statistically mergers and acquisitions do not work - the total generally ending up less than the sum of the parts. Then try to ignore the human cost of these misbegotten affairs - and that they are done for reasons of sheer vanity "my limp dick is bigger than yours".

Then, consider this.

A brand has value. If you were to send out two identical mailings, one with an unknown name, and another with a venerable name like Norwich Union on the envelope, response would be twice as great for the latter. I have heard of it being three times greater.

If they knew a little about the realities of marketing and didn't fall for the blandishments of the re-branding bullshitters, some of these top bananas would do a damn sight better than they do. As it is, Aviva's share price has halved in recent months and the whole lot is up for grabs.

But no doubt the people in charge will find new, even better-paid jobs or sail off with big fat pensions - part of magic circle of those whose chief talent is, like shit, to rise to the top.

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