Tag Archives: cramer

Cramer believes Cramer has a branding problem

Before I get started I need some music. I’m thinking the Rolling Stones.  Nothing like a little music when I’m writing, especially when my back is hurting and I’m still feeling toasty from the warm reception to my debut on Seeking Alpha.  But don’t let me be a poor host, while I get settled you can watch this video:


Okay good, I’ve got my lumbar cushion in place, my laptop is humming and Mick is singing “You can’t always get what you wa-ant”. Good stuff.  And I assume that you couldn’t miss Jim Cramer’s frustration with not getting what he wants in the segment. I mean that is not what you would call self-satisfaction dripping from phrases like “…it is cavalier at this point to ignore me, but not only am I ignored, I am dismissed as a gadfly. It’s pathetic.”  Say what you will, but on Wednesday James J. wasn’t happy with his brand.

So what’s he got to complain about?

He has two wildly successful brands serving overlapping market segments. Brand 1: The interviewee, the answer-man, the insider; paired, although not always like a fine wine, with an interviewer/interlocutor as so often seen on TheStreet TV, CNBC, etc. Then there is Brand 2: the Mad Money man, and we all know who he is. Granted, it is a colorful image – Business Week called it “…perhaps best described as Louis Rukeyser meets televangelism meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse”. Colorful, yes, but it goes over great.   The point is there’s no shortage of people NOT IGNORING Jim Cramer. He’s reaching the pros and the joes, the day traders, the gold bugs, the newsies, the amateurs, and all the people hoping to “stump the band” with an obscure stock (and who are delighted when he knows ’em and nails ’em).  Lots of audience, but Jim’s not getting what he wants.

There is a market segment he’s not reaching: the government, the powers-that-be, the policy makers.  He wants to reach them, and why shouldn’t he?  He’s right more often (and always a lot sooner) than they are. It’s a big jones for Cramer – like a student from Duke looking to score some basketball tickets – but for some reason the brand isn’t going over with the target audience.

Oh hang on a second…

I really like to hear this part when Mick sings “but you just might find…” and the backup singers kick-in with “…you get what you nee-eed”. Yeah that’s good stuff.

So I’ve got Mick and Keith and a lumbar pillow and Jim Cramer has an itch.  And it is a genuine itch, I think he really cares, it is his passion, (and the best brands come from the genuine, the authentic) he wants to see it done right.  He wants better stewardship of the financial system to which we are all tied.

Actually, you could quite fairly point out that he has gotten a lot that he’s been calling for this week:  AIG was bailed out,  Europe kicked-in,  heck even McCain stepped up and said Chris Cox should be fired. Cramer needed all these things and so did we, but that’s not what he wanted.  In markets timing is everything, and just-in-timing is just too hair-raising.

What Jim has is a great product – great credentials, great track record, great knowledge. What Jim wants is brand strength – the ability to influence a small, powerful, but difficult to reach market segment (the government) so that he can perhaps nip a few buds and head off some passes.  Jim used the words “moral authority”, I call it clout. Either way it’s absence is a symptom of a branding problem.

So now some advice before I listen to the rest of “Let it Bleed”: To reach the elusive segment the positioning will need some tuning. It is less an issue for the Mad Money family of products than it is for the interviewee+interviewer relationship.  If you don’t have “shelf appeal” for your target audience then you begin by rethinking the packaging.  If an interviewee is the product then the interviewer is the packaging – as intermediary the interviewer holds tremendous sway over the nuances of positioning.  How the interviewer frames the discussion of what we have and what we need, could help get Jim what he wants.

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Jim Cramer has got a branding problem

Jim Cramer, the Mad Money man, Mr. Silver Lining, has a branding problem. He’s the boy who cried “wolf”. Not the boy at the beginning of the story, but the boy at the end, the one that everybody should be listening to, but they ain’t.

I’ve been spending the past few days flat on a heating pad nursing a bad back and watching the news. And boy is it a newsy world right now, but I’m not going to go into that.  Well, just enough to say that the big stories, the wet stories, the dry stories, the red and blue stories, aren’t THE story.  As I said I was flat on my back watching the news, enjoying the cozy warmth of an old cat who was enjoying the cozy, ambient warmth from the heating pad, when I heard the “ding”, the lovely interrupting chime that tells me that Mr. Bailey is on the chat.

Bailey and I go back to kindergarten. He’s the smartest guy I know and that’s saying something.  He’s the one that dropped the pin, but he denies it and I respect him for that.  But that’s an old and obscure story. Not THE story. The story that gets the capital letters is best told by Mr. James J. Cramer and it comes out in the interview. Go ahead watch it, I’ll wait.


Notice something? Where’s that colorful, frothy, prickly-cuddly financial whiz we’ve come to love?  This isn’t the Mad Money Cramer, this is something different.  This man is serious, and it is chilling.  This is the boy crying “wolf”.  Forgive me, he’s crying  “WOLF!”   “WOLF! WOLF! Hello? Scary, terrifying wolf!” And the people around him aren’t getting it.  Mr. Bailey is, but he’s not like most of the rest of us.  It’s hard to fathom, because it is a complex messy story about finance and markets and too long doing the wrong thing thinking it will come out right.  But I’m not a markets guy, I’m a guy with a bad back and a cat on my lap.  These things are over my head.  I took different classes.  I am branding guy so talk about branding, Cohen.

Why is Cramer sitting still in the video?  Why is he clenching his hands so tightly together?  Because he’s trying to rein in his brand. His personal branding, the mad man mojo, is a hair trigger away from exploding and he knows he’s got to keep it down.  Nail the lid down on it so it don’t explode… but why?  It’s about credibility.  He doesn’t want you to miss the news for watching the show, because this time the news is too heavy, too big for the histrionics.  He’s afraid of this, and he’s trying to communicate it the only way he knows how, by saying it as calmly as he can. When the entire capital producing machine of the western world is in jeopardy, you want to get the story across.  You want people to know it ain’t a show.

This guy with bags of credibility, the former hedge fund manager, the guy with the money show on the money network is worried that you won’t believe him.  That’s the brand problem.   The usual shtick is out the window and we don’t know how to respond. This isn’t fun.  This isn’t swagger.  We haven’t been taught this language, it’s not part of the Cramer iconography. This is a guy dropping his brand armor because he thinks that will help us see that this is an unfathomably large, trillions of dollars large, situation and it could easily implode like a black hole. Truly, I don’t know what it all means, but I can see when I watch that video that he has an inkling of the meaning – something dark ahead – something too dark and too serious to risk not getting the message across, and that’s why he’s clamping down, and that’s what’s chilling.  A normal person wouldn’t be calm, a normal person would be screaming and shouting if they had that same fear in the eyes, but that’s the norm for Cramer.

The brand is upside down, the crazy man is acting sane.

The calm is the omen of the storm.

And if Cramer is right it is nothing compared to the problems ahead.


As I write, it is Bailey on the chat: Feds are taking over AIG. We live another day.”

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