Bank Watch

BofA turns to Billy Idol to promote new rewards program

Rock star Billy Idol in a scene from a new series of Bank of America commercials designed to promote its ‘Preferred Rewards’ program
Rock star Billy Idol in a scene from a new series of Bank of America commercials designed to promote its ‘Preferred Rewards’ program

Bank of America is hoping an aging rocker will make you participate in its “Preferred Rewards” program.

Billy Idol, 59, whose songs include the 1980s hit “White Wedding,” stars in a new series of commercials the Charlotte-based lender posted to YouTube last week. The commercials are designed to promote a rewards program that is open to Bank of America clients with an average of at least $20,000 in checking, savings or investment accounts.

Bank of America announced the rewards program in June of last year. Preferred Rewards is part of CEO Brian Moynihan’s efforts to expand the bank’s relationship with what it refers to as its “mass-affluent” customers.

Actor and director Christopher Guest, who directed the 2000 movie “Best in Show,” directed the Bank of America commercials.

The commercials center on actors who portray members of Bank of America’s marketing department as they brainstorm ways to promote the Preferred Rewards program. As the series progresses, the marketing team comes up with the idea to work with Idol, whose 1980s song “Rebel Yell” has the words “more, more, more” in the lyrics.

In one of the commercials, set in a recording studio, the bankers ask Idol to sing “more” 25 times in a row. That’s because, as one of the bankers in the recording booth tells Idol, “qualified Bank of America customers get 25 percent or more bonus rewards on eligible credit cards.”

A Bank of America spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to adage.com, the first ad in the series was set to air during the premiere of CBS's “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” this past Tuesday. The full series will air exclusively during late-night programming, including “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” for about four weeks, according to adage.

Bank of America’s pursuit of mass-affluent customers comes as Moynihan, CEO since 2010, seeks to improve the lender’s financial performance. Bank of America posted a 58 percent drop in profit last year as a nearly $17 billion government settlement over mortgages weighed on its earnings.

In the second quarter of this year, the bank posted better-than-expected results, making profit of $5.3 billion, up from profit of $2.3 billion a year earlier, as it slashed its legal costs.

The bank’s share price remains well below pre-financial crisis levels, while the share price for some of its peer banks have surpassed their pre-crisis levels.

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