Banks Consider Running TV Spots Against Proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency

Remember Harry and Louise? I don’t, but apparently they were a fictional couple in an early-90s TV commercial, produced by the insurance industry to help sway opinion against the Clinton health plan. Now banks and other financial companies may be pooling resources to create a new “Harry and Louise” style ad to convince Americans that Obama’s proposed agency to monitor abusive financial practices will limit choice and ruin lives.

According to Jessica Holzer of Dow Jones Newswires, “Four public relations firms, including Powell Tate and Direct Impact, pitched their ideas for the television spot at a meeting” that was attended by “representatives from the National Association of Realtors, the American Bankers Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable,” and organized by the American Financial Services Association. They haven’t made any formal statement yet about running ads, but it’s obviously being discussed.

The vice president of the American Financial Services Association told Holzer, “We’re not considering running ads against anything as much as trying to … ensure we don’t move forward, in the haste to do something, with the wrong type of approach.”

If they do create the ads, expect to see them as early as this month. In the meantime, you can get your industry propaganda fix by watching the old Harry and Louise spots:

“Groups Mull ‘Harry And Louise’ Ads To Sink Consumer Agency” [NASDAQ via TNR] (Thanks to Heather!)

“Harry and Louise on Clinton’s health plan”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Raekwon says:

    I hope they keep the same levels of bad acting and cheese.

    • Cliff_Donner says:

      @Raekwon: Actually, compared to the recent HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) ads — which basically portrayed anyone who questioned the nutritional value of HFCS as a dimwitted moron — these are High Art, and highly informational.

      I can stand propaganda. I just hate it when the propaganda assumes I’m an idiot.

  2. I Love New Jersey says:

    And remind me why the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a good idea? Oh yeah, another black hole for tax dollars to go down.

    • SacraBos says:

      @I Love New Jersey: I’m from the government, and I’m hear to help.

      That’s why Congress voted for it, it creates more government.

    • econobiker says:

      @I Love New Jersey: Would have been a good idea say, in 1976 before the usury laws were rolled over…

      Now it will be another lobbiest in training government department…

    • Segador says:

      @I Love New Jersey: I think they should create another government agency to oversee the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. At taxpayer expense, of course.

    • Brazell says:

      @I Love New Jersey: It’s very surprising that the first three comments haven’t called you a fascist, racist, or raciofascist. Change has come to Consumerist.

    • Garfunkle says:

      @I Love New Jersey: Do I have to get into a whole cost benefit analysis with you again? I thought we settled this over on the cap and trade thread. Do you really need someone to explain why it might be a good idea, or are you looking for a more nuanced overview of the costs (yes there some!) as well as benefits (clearly you think there are none).

      @MichaelBrazel: I thought the liberals were the fascists now. I really can’t keep up with this…. are we back to commies yet?

      • Brazell says:

        @Garfunkle: Rest assured, you’re back on the communist throne, while we’re hard at work getting the trains to run on time. The Jonah-Goldberg-liberal-fascism thing was just a temporary recess from the usual.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @I Love New Jersey: This isn’t a black hole. For “black hole” see most of Bush’s spending. Especially the TSA/DHS. How come I don’t hear lobbyists clamoring to re-privatize that?

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Well may laugh, but I’m sure there will be plenty of people convinced by whatever advertising they do.

  4. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Is this going to be a case of “if the other side wins”?

  5. flyingember says:

    Sadly it would be more effective to have a “product approval” commission and I think that’s a really bad idea.

    What happened to “let the buyer beware?”

    • SacraBos says:

      @flyingember: I guess that when you have nearly all the bank colluding to have the same insane fees, interest rate boosts, charges, etc, there isn’t many other places for the buyer to go.

      It’s like “War Games”. The only winning move is to not play.

    • PunditGuy says:


      What happened to “let the buyer beware?”

      The mortgage crisis. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

      How absolutist are you with that notion, anyway? Peanut butter shoppers should just beware of salmonella? Vioxx users should just beware of heart attacks? Madoff investors should just beware of Ponzi schemes?

    • econobiker says:

      @flyingember: “Buyer beware” went out when banks began to issue mouse print “terms and conditions” and make more money on negative fees (atm use, etc) than on positive loans…

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @flyingember: I know the banks thought they were getting unassailable legislative protection when they bought Congresspeople, but indeed, let the buyer beware … sometimes Congress comes down with a little “protect the constituents” fever and throws over their paymasters.

      But, you know, let the buyer beware. The banks knew what they were getting when they bought Congresscritters.

  6. econobiker says:

    Nothing like an excess of lobbying money and industry association money to throw at public relations firms in order bend the stupid public’s opinion to help keep corporate welfare and maintain the same consumer abusive tatics in force.

    Here is a typical response from those who believe everything on TV or the press release journalism produced by major media now:
    “But I saw it on TV how mandatory binding arbitration helps keep our courts free for putting real criminals away and stop spending valuable tax money on stupid lawsuits. So mandatory binding arbitration must be a good thing especially if the other political party doesn’t want it. I am sure unions are to blame too…”

  7. ThinkerTDM says:

    They should hire the same people who did the Gates/Seinfeld ads for Microsoft.

  8. lannister80 says:

    FUCK YOU big banks. Once we get our $700B we can talk.

  9. H3ion says:

    If the financial industry players would put the money they spend trying to defeat consumer legislation into providing some decent level of customer service, everyone would win and there would be no need for this agency. Banks, insurance companies, etc. have simply gotten too big and arrogant and there’s no countervailing force large enough to face them other than government. Hell, I don’t really want to see another agency, but this one may be needed.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    So if I have this straight, many banks, only existing due to unprecedented, much-loathed intervention risking trillions of US taxpayer dollars and hidden subsidies of hundreds of billions of US taxpayer dollars more, are now funding a multi-million dollar ad campaign telling us that we shouldn’t allow the government to intervene in “their” business?
    The sad thing is that I predict that around 25% of the voting public won’t have a problem with this at all.

    • Mary Marsala with Fries says:

      @Trai_Dep: Right-o. Government intervention FOR banks is okay — a free market requires heavily-subsidized monopolies you know — but any intervention that might stem the gusher of profits at the expense of lied-to-and-bullied consumers is COMMUNIST.

      Just so we’re clear. >,<

  11. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    This will end up like the EPA and the FDA.
    Either run by one of the wolves themselves, or completely powerless to enforce any of its mandates, or both.

  12. Galactica says:

    Notice how there are no credit union lobbying groups part of this.

  13. Hybriddeathdealer says:

    Banks were the ones who lobbied for the ‘Freedom From Regulation’ that fit the Republican agenda, passed the 2005 Amendment that allowed banks to bet off the books with people’s money. Banks sold the ‘Structured Investment Vehicles’ and used ‘Credit Default Swaps’ as a type of Insurance, all specifically prohibited *from* regulation, directly causing the world wide economic collapse and the death of capitalism. The Bush Administration under the direction of the so called ‘Texas think tanks’ under funds, under-staffs and directs the FTC, SEC and other governing agencies to use a hands off approach. (Remember all the food recalls and deaths because of this philosophy?!) Then Republicans point their fingers and say, “See! Government oversight doesn’t work!” Well of course it didn’t, they planned it that way! Then bankers, politicians and the like get way with the biggest bank heist in history by pushing the ‘Troubled (Toxic) Assets Relief Program’ (TARP). Because practically nothing is being done to protect consumers, either locally, or abroad, literally trillions in investment monies sits on the side, waiting for our government to fix our system and put back the safe guards from the 1930s that were put in place after the first big depression and bank screw up. Now banks want to lobby against regulation, so we can take another hosing and make no mistake, this Administration is just as corrupt and just as likely to do nothing. Then Republicans blame it on Clinton. Then Republicans blame it on Barny Frank who of course was happy to vote with them and happy to take the same PAC money that made it all possible. America is so damn dumb, so lazy and so selfish, they could care less about their corrupt politicians. This very well could be the end of an era. Probably to be known as the time when greed brought the great country down. Hope you all like eating Chinese… (REAL Chinese food, not that fluffy stuff you find around the corner.) Morons…

  14. John Israel says:

    @I Love New Jersey: All of you are a bunch of self-important shit popsicles.

    Well, enough of this…time to go kill about 14 million of my no longer possible future children to episodes of Designing Women. Delta Burke, man, she really knows how to turn my crank.

  15. Skin Art Squared says:

    I see this as a big win…. for the ad agencies. Which of course, is my primary concern since that is my field. Everything else takes a back seat.

  16. robotrevolution says:

    It’s bullshit like this that makes me wish there was a larger movement to overturn Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company.

  17. SugitaAlcimede says:

    i hope it’ as awesome in theme and production values as “the gathering storm” gay dudes marrying ftw!

  18. personnext says:

    gh. Th Cnsmrst cntns t g dwnhll n thr dfns f stpd cnsmrs.