* Bank runs ads in 12 markets and some smaller communities
* Ads detail charitable donations, small business loans
* Consumer groups are not impressed
By Rick Rothacker
Oct 11 Bank of America Corp, under fire
for everything from improper foreclosures to hiking debit card
fees, is fighting back with advertising.
The bank is running TV, print and online ads through the
end of the year in 12 larger markets, including Charlotte,
Boston, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, as well as some
smaller communities, said bank spokesman T.J. Crawford.
The ads describe the bank's charitable donations and small
business loans, as well as its efforts to ease loan terms for
underwater mortgage borrowers, known as "loan modifications."
"The campaign aims to deliver the facts about Bank of
America's local impact," Crawford said. "Sharing the
significant work we do at the local level and critical role we
play is more important than ever."
Bank of America's critics were not impressed.
The ads are "irrelevant," said Kathleen Day, spokeswoman
for the Center for Responsible Lending, a Durham, North
Carolina-based nonprofit that advocates for homeowners. "The
only thing that matters is that they and other banks clean up
their servicing operations so they can do more loan
modifications and never do the same thing to the economy
Bank of America and other banks launched similar campaigns
when they faced criticism in 2009 for taking government bailout
Large banks have paid back that money but face continuing
outrage over their mishandling of foreclosure paperwork, new
fees they are charging consumers, and the continuing economic
fallout from the financial crisis.
The "Occupy Wall Street" movement has spread from New York
to other cities around the country, including the bank's
hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.
WORKING TO HELP
The nation's largest bank by assets debuted the campaign
Sept. 26, days before it announced a new $5 per-month debit
card fee and experienced problems with its web site.
An ad that ran Sunday in Charlotte carried the tagline:
"We're working to help keep the North Carolina economy moving
It noted the bank's contributions to the state, including
$159 million in loans to small businesses in the first half of
the year, more than 22,000 loan modifications since 2008 and
$10.8 million in charitable commitments this year.
The bank does not disclose the cost of its advertising
campaigns, Crawford said. In the first half of this year, Bank
of America spent $1.1 billion on marketing, up from $982
million in the same period last year, according to its
second-quarter earnings report.
Bank of America lost $7.4 billion for common shareholders
in the first half of the year, as it set aside money to cover
mortgage loses and legal settlements. It reports third-quarter
earnings on Oct. 18.