Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Me Ha Lev

While it is a little scary living in a country with military operations going on (although none of them near me), it is also interesting to see how people under pressure react. For example, I've reacted by eating falafel and going to the beach....or else the terrorists win. Bank HaPoalim has reacted differently. In the meeting we attended about shivuk (the marketing department) a couple days ago, Eli Mizroch, the head of the department (I think...or pretty high up) told us about the various campaigns the bank has done to remodel its brand image from that of a bank associated with the Histadrut (trade unions) to a dynamic, privatized bank that is flexible for its clients. The results are visible in the red and white colors, as can be seen on the website ( or, if you read Hebrew, which you don't, but I'm just throwing the option out there, and interesting advertising campaigns.

For example, for Yom Haazmaut (Independence Day), people usually put out TONS of Isaeli Flags everywhere, but in recent years, it has been declining. Bank HaPoalim put an ad out in the paper last year offering people free flags. These are quality flags, mind you; full size and made out of rayon/nylon. They spent about $2 million on this campaign and it paid off for them because not only was it a success in reviving the tradition for the country, it also boosted Poalim's brand recognition. This time, they really outdid themselves. While I can't say I agree with what they did simply for publicity/customers, I can see how it's nice from a philanthropic viewpoint. When the war started in the North, the bank closed about 68 branches, out of a total 318. That's a lot of branches to close. People in the North still have banking needs, so, Poalim organized about 10 busses (pictured here and I'll post the picture that I have later: and armed them with all types of banking services. Today, they are sending them up to the North. Basically, the vans/trucks will drive around in the North and people can come to them to do banking stuff. When there is a siren, they will drive as far south as they can, and then come back. Obviously, it was very hard to find people who want to drive the vans, but they got this operation together in maybe 3-4 days. This is A HUGE DEAL. However, I'm disappointed that Eli Mizroch told us that the reason they did it was for publicity and to enhance Poalim's image over Bank Leumi, Poalim's main competitor. I really wish they did this just because. But I guess that's how business works. Now watch Leumi come out with something similar. As far as I know, they haven't.

Today, when I came to work, I saw the vans/trucks outside of our building (there was a huge press conference) and a bunch of people wearing shirts that said "MKol halev"-from the whole heart launching the trucks to go to the north. Big deal, lots of security, fortunately I got one picture of the van, which I will have to upload.

Other than that, not much has been going on. I had to go to a hacking conference yesterday which would have been informative for me, had it been in English. Right now I am working with Google advertisements and figuring out if they would be good for e-banking to implement through tons and tons of Powerpoint presentations. I am becoming a Hebrew Powerpoint Pro.

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