If you’ve been a longtime fan of the bruising sport of “Extreme Wall Street Bailout,” you already know that AIG is the acronym for American International Group, the one-time high-flying insurance giant that has suffered a string of humiliating losses lately. Last year, it essentially went bust. Then it had to be bailed out by the government. Then it needed another bailout. Then another. The total taxpayer tally is now topping $200 billion. As a result, AIG is presently 80-percent owned by the federal government, and some of the star players who formerly ran it have been booted from the team.
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Those who remain, however, came up with a brilliant play. A couple of months ago, they decided that the first step to making AIG a global player again was to switch jerseys. A new name – that’s the ticket to a winning start! So, they switched their corporate moniker to – Ta Da! – “American International Underwriters.” Yes, AIU.
New promotional materials were printed, new business cards were issued to employees – but, alas, this brilliant “repositioning” strategy also turns out to be a loser. As one top executive concludes in a flash of corporate insight: “The advice we’ve received is AIU may be a bit close to AIG.” He added, “We don’t want to appear as the same leopard with different spots.” Wow, he’s got a keen grasp of the obvious, doesn’t he? This is the kind of leadership that has made the corporation what it is today.
So, AIU executives have plunged deep into the search for yet another name, acknowledging that they might even scrub the word “American” from the corporate moniker. How’s that for irony? We Americans bail out this giant, and our thanks is to have our national name scratched.
How about just admitting that AIG’s name is MUD?
“Name Hurts Main Unit Of A.I.G.,” The New York Times, April 30, 2009.