Wall Street investment firms spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to create bold corporate advertising images--like bulls and lions. With the current stock market slide, however, advertising executives are wondering if the market has at least temporarily become a wild animal that no measure of advertising can help tame.
"If you advertise now, there's a risk of looking terribly foolish," said Robert E. Connor, manager of corporate advertising at Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. "Whatever you say on Tuesday may mean absolutely nothing on Wednesday."
Of 10 large New York brokerage houses contacted Monday, only two--Prudential-Bache Securities and Shearson Lehman Bros.--mentioned even tentative plans to soon address the stock market collapse in their advertising. Spokesmen from both companies confirmed that they are considering print ads that would look at the issue. Details, however, remain sketchy.
Senior executives from Shearson are scheduled to discuss ad strategy on Wednesday.
The executives meet each week to create a quarter-page ad that appears weekly in the newspaper USA Today. "They'll have plenty to discuss this week," said Michael O'Neill, senior vice president of corporate affairs.