To help restore the battered reputation of its bankers, a pan-European lobby group has hired the man who led BP's PR efforts during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. According to Reuters, Andrew Gowers, who also led communications and brand management for Lehman brothers during its collapse, has been appointed director of external relations at the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) lobby group.
With bankers often at the center of public anger for causing the financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn, the hiring of someone who was part of the BP organization that was criticized for an array of PR blunders, including issuing computer-modified photographs of the spill, according to Reuters, may affect the reputation of the group itself.
Jim Lukaszewski, president of Lukaszewski Group, says that the hire is a good move for the bankers. "While BP was heavily criticized for its actions, the company did as good a job as it could have from a PR perspective," says Lukaszewski. "Most of the criticism of the way BP handled the spill from a PR point of view came from PR people themselves. From a business perspective, BP took fairly swift action to clean up the spill and compensate those affected."
And while it may be a smart on the part of the bankers, is it a smart move by Gowers? "Europe may be a different place to be, but arrogance and greed by bankers seems to be a universal trait," says Lukaszewski. "Will Gowers get them to change their behavior? That’s a tough challenge."
Lukaszewski points to Bank of America—having endured vehement backlash over the introduction of an ATM card-service fee, the bank was forced to cancel its plans. Now, however, BofA is at it again, looking to charge more fees for checking accounts.
Gowers will no doubt have his hands full keeping the Euro group in check.
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