Disappearing Acts

Financial institutions have faltered and collapsed, but for their upbeat ad campaigns, irony springs eternal.

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Washington Mutual
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day (February to September 2008)
Free checking inspires a customer to dream of being a disco dancer. The reality: WaMu's failure was the biggest bank collapse in U.S. history.

"Realize your dreams."
Countrywide Financial
Agency: Dailey & Associates (Launched February 2004)
A woman scolds her husband, "You said we couldn't afford this place." He admits he made a mistake. It took four years for the poor guy to be vindicated in the real world.

"You can count on us."
IndyMac Bank
Agency: Designory (November 2007 to present)
This slogan remains on onsite posters today, despite the bank's having been seized by the F.D.I.C. in July. (The takeover actually makes the bank even safer, a hopeful publicist notes.)

"Don't judge too quickly. We won't."
Ameriquest Mortgage Company
Agency: DDB Los Angeles (2005 and 2006 Super Bowls)
In one spot, a horrified woman hears her husband's doctor say, "That killed him!" after zapping a fly with a defibrillator. Point being: Banks are too swift in judging homebuyers as unfit for loans.

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