Home » NEWS » Banking & Finance » TODD SMITH — U.S. Trust, Merrill Lynch brands ride into sunset post Bank of America Merger

TODD SMITH — U.S. Trust, Merrill Lynch brands ride into sunset post Bank of America Merger


Two of the most iconic names in banking are galloping into the sunset!

Recently, Bank of America said it will gradually retire the U.S. Trust brand to become the Bank of America Private Bank. The move is part of CEO Brian Moynihan’s “one-company” strategy to more closely align the bank’s various businesses and branding.

The company will also no longer use the Merrill Lynch brand for its investment banking, global markets and capital markets group.

Bank of America purchased U.S. Trust from Charles Schwab in 2006 for $3.3 billion, calling it “one of the largest and most respected” wealth management firms.

U.S. Trust, founded in 1853 in New York, is the first and oldest trust company in the United States, and became synonymous with America’s wealthy elite. Its founders included Marshall Field, Erastus Corning and Joseph Lawrence, then mayor of New York, while its early clients included Tycoons such as William Waldorf Astor and Oliver Harriman.

Bank of America will also retire the Merrill Lynch name from its investment bank and trading units, shortening the name to Merrill for its wealth management division – preserving its brand equity.

The company said – in a news release – it had already begun a multiyear advertising campaign to highlight the changes. It launched a new corporate logo in November.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank acquired Merrill Lynch a decade ago in the midst of the financial crisis. It used to be known by its brokers as “Mother Merrill.” But the name stuck with the firm even after the Bank of America merger where other storied Wall Street names, including Smith Barney and Bear Stearns, faded away.

The investment bank and trading business will now be called BofA Securities, while the units working with corporate clients will be called Bank of America.

Costco tops Amazon in Internet retail satisfaction survey

Costco has outscored Amazon in a recent survey to determine the most satisfying name in Internet retail.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which interviews 300,000 customers annually about more than 400 companies in 46 industries to measure customer satisfaction for the quality of products and services.

Costco garnered an ACSI score of 83 this year in the first time it’s been scored in the Internet retail category on the report. It received the same rating for the in-store department/discount and supermarket categories. Meanwhile, Amazon scored 82, dipping three points from the previous year.

Amazon had been the leader on the index since 2010. But, the report found “its retail business growth has slowed with the acquisition of Whole Foods,” which Amazon purchased for $13.7 billion in 2017.

While consumers were the most satisfied with Internet retail, the overall level of satisfaction across the category dipped from an ACSI score of 82 in 2017 to 80 in 2018.

Overall, 21 new companies made their debuts in the Internet retail category. Among these brands, the best-performing ones after Costco were Etsy, Kohl’s, Nike and Nordstrom, which each had an ACSI score of 81. However, not all new companies in this section performed well: Sears and Walmart took the lowest positions with scores of 73 and 74, respectively.

According to the report, of all the vehicles for online shopping, mobile apps are highly favorable among customers – scoring an 86 for quality and an 85 for reliability. While the ease of a desktop checkout and payment process is at an 85 that is down two points from last year when it was at an 87.

Oscars broadcast a hit For ABC

The 2019 Oscars broadcast rebounded for ABC, notching a solid 10 percent bounce in the ratings.

The awards ceremony averaged 29.6 million viewers, an 11.5 percent gain over a year ago. The show also scored a 7.7 rating among adults 18-49, a 13 percent gain over last year.

The broadcast was the most-watched entertainment telecast on TV since the 2017 Oscars and the highest-rated non-sports program since the post-Super Bowl This Is Us in 2018.

The 2018 awards hit an all-time low of 26.54 million viewers and a 6.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

However, this year’s ratings are still the second smallest on record for the Oscars. Prior to last year, the previous low was a slightly more than 32 million viewers in 2008.

Earlier, the Oscars posted a 21.6 rating/36 share in metered-market households, up about 14 percent over the early figures from a year ago.

This year’s broadcast clocked in at 3 hours, 13 minutes – 41 minutes shorter than last year’s show. Along with not having a host, the show did not feature any montages or mid-telecast comedy routines.

Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody, the two biggest box office draws among the best picture nominees, each won multiple Oscars, but Green Book took home the night’s top honor.

The early improvements for the Oscars are ahead of other major awards shows this year. Both the Golden Globes and Grammy Awards were fairly steady year to year, although the Grammys hit a low in the 18-49 demographic.

Following the Oscars and late local news, a preview of ABC’s dramedy Whiskey Cavalier drew 4.2 million viewers and a 0.8 rating in adults 18-49.

Dropped Mic | New York pens open letter to Amazon

The Big Apple still wants to dance with Amazon!

Like a ditched date to the prom, leaders and officials from the state and the city of New York signed an open letter recently published in The New York Times begging CEO Jeff Bezos to reconsider pulling Amazon’s HQ2 project out, a decision it announced in mid-February.

The letter rehashed events, reiterated the boon that Amazon was projected to offer the city and the state, and offered reassurances that the second-headquarters project would move forward if Amazon gives the go-ahead.

The letter said Gov. Andrew Cuomo would “take personal responsibility for the project’s state approval,” while Mayor Bill de Blasio would “work together with the governor to manage the community development process, including the workforce development, public education and infrastructure investments that are necessary.”

Dozens of New York civic and business titans, including religious, education, union, political, and tech leaders signed the letter.

Cuomo has spoken with Amazon executives, including Bezos, on multiple occasions over the past few weeks to try to get the company to reconsider, according to The Times.

Amazon has given no indication that it is reconsidering its New York HQ2 decision. In the meantime, it is full-steam ahead on the other HQ2 location in the Washington, D.C. market – and its Center for Excellence plans, which will bring some 5,000 jobs to Nashville, which could get even more jobs in wake of the New York divorce.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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