Barclays should have expected some fireworks at last week’s AGM,
but the rocket came from 89-year-old Jessie Bonner-Thomas, who
castigated management and captured headlines in nearly all the national
papers. Press coverage of the ’frail widow’ re-ignited the branch
closure furore, and her comments on CEO Matthew Barrett’s pay brought
’fat cat salaries’ back into the headlines.
Her messages were simple and stark, while Barclays’ defence, seemingly
unprepared, struggled to be heard. The Independent’s Cahal Milmo (27/4)
called branch closures ’a public relations disaster’, and chairman Sir
Peter Middleton admitted the bank’s public relations attempts ’had been
a failure’ (Express, 27/4).
Another target was the current pounds 15 million advertising campaign,
which is ’hopelessly inappropriate’ according to Kirstie Hamilton
(Sunday Times, 30/4). Sir Anthony Hopkins, star of one commercial, felt
he was a scapegoat for the bank’s policies, and Mrs Bonner-Thomas called
the whole campaign ’a damp squib’.
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research.
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