Bank of America has suffered from some bad PR lately, from a failed fee hike on debit cards to a $410 million settlement against the bank on overdraft fees. To help burnish its image, the bank is turning to an unlikely source: author Malcolm Gladwell.
The bank sent Gladwell on the “Bank of America Small Business Speaker Series: A Conversation with Malcolm Gladwell” tour in Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington, MarketWatch reports.
Gladwell reportedly drew inspiration from his New York Times bestseller “Outliers” to examine “the unique attributes that define high performance and extracted lessons that small business owners could adapt in their own endeavors.”
According to an interview on his site, Gladwell sees the main gist of his book in that “it makes us understand how much of a group project success is.”
Bank of America may be hoping some of the small-business owners just happen to think the bank would be a good place to help with that group project. To encourage that thinking, each of Gladwell’s presentations was preceded by “a panel discussion on relationship capital” (otherwise known as “a sales presentation,” the Raw Story notes).
It’s not the first time Gladwell has spoken for a national company. His speaking agency lists his past credits as speaking at a global fitness trade association, a major glass company and a major food company.
Gladwell, a writer for the New Yorker, told The Atlantic Wire he did not see his speaking engagement as a conflict of interest, and that it was a speaking engagment like any other. “I’m happy to chat about whatever I’m working on to whomever wants to listen,” he wrote in an email to the news site.