The economy's in trouble. Have you heard? Banks would be much happier if you hadn't, but alas, that dude who was repossessing your car probably said something about it. So now our financial institutions are faced with their toughest challenge: deciding what kind of ads to run. They can't do anything about the actual economy—your money is toast. But maybe they can make you feel better about it! Does JPMorgan Chase see a smile on your face? Yes, JPMorgan Chase does! There are a few different strategies. Some, like failed failure WaMu, use humor, along the lines of "We've dragged our dessicated carcass to a safe place now. LOL!" Others are going for the old "reassure you despite all evidence to the contrary" tactic:

In advertising, many financial institutions are racing to reassure consumers with soothing messages — that focus on important “S” words: strength, safety, stability, security. “There is a safe and smart place to put your money,” ads for Commerce Bank tell newspaper readers. Simultaneously, some institutions are continuing to communicate as if the recent upheavals had not happened. Ads for Discover Financial Services, for instance, try to coax consumers to sign up for yet another credit card, offering enticements like free balance transfers.

Ha, well I guess that's appropriate. The truth is advertising is just a buffet of bad options right now for banks. They can laugh it off and look stupid. They can try to reassure you and look like liars. Or they can try the "straight talk" approach and scare you even worse than you already are. Or they can do what the FDIC did and hire scary blond Suze Orman. Which is the worst option of all. [NYT]