Sometimes I think about what it must be like to be a PR flack for a TBTF bank. For the most part, it's probably just your average 9-5 gig staffed by people with a gift for the written word and a history of piss poor life choices. But every once in a while, coming into work has to feel like somebody's spraying battery acid in your eyes while a midget punches you repeatedly in the junk. I imagine that's what if feels like for the PR kids over atright now, today.
You had to believe everything was going swimmingly (pun intended) for the PR crew over at Citi. First of all, the bank is a huge sponsor of the 2012 Olympics and that's great press. On top of that, the Americans are kicking ass, and there's this great rivalry between the legendary Michael Phelps and the new fair-haired son Ryan Lochte - and both of them came away with gold. Nothing could screw this hopeful narrative up, right?
Before Lochte even had a chance to towel off, Citi initiated foreclosure proceedings on his mom. I'm actually sitting here chuckling while I write that, not because the Lochte family's financial strife is in any way humorous (it isn't), but because some hungover chain-smoking flack at Citi headquarters now has to find a way to spin this so Vikram doesn't look like Darth Vader.
To be fair, the Lochte's quit paying on the house last year, so Citi is well within their rights to foreclose. But the optics on this foreclosure are absolutely ghastly from the standpoint of public perception. Are you really going to throw this family out on the streets after this kid won gold in London?
It's a no-win situation for the bank. If they don't foreclose, every other deadbeat is gonna want the same break. If they do, they look like total jerkoffs. It's enough to make a PR guy wish he'd eaten a few less shrooms in college and maybe gotten a worthwhile degree.
What do you guys think? Should Citi foreclose? Do they have a choice? Or should they cut the Lochte's a break because their kid can swim? How would you guys spin this one if you were in PR?