Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

KPMG’s Risk Management Ad Jumps, Climbs and Flies but Misses the Point

Just as Washington is finally passing a bill that will reduce unnecessary risk-taking by financial institutions, here comes this commercial from KPMG in the UK doing the opposite. KPMG parties like it was 2005 and sub-prime was a bad cut of steaks. The commercial celebrates risk-taking in a manner that only a BP executive could rationalize deepwater offshore drilling.

Almost everything is wrong with this commercial:

Its heroes, a man and a woman, presumably KPMG employees, are living in a risky world. Risk is all around them, from the moment they get up. But don’t worry. These two nitwits know how to engage in risk management. Mostly in jingle and parkour, in fact.

Wikipedia tells us that Parkour “is where participants jump, vault, and climb over obstacles in a fluid manner. Skills such as jumping and climbing, or the more specific parkour moves are employed. The object of parkour is to get from one place to another using only the human body and the objects in the environment. The obstacles can be anything in one’s environment but parkour is often seen practiced in urban areas because of the many suitable public structures available such as buildings and rails.”

The two heroes run, jump, flip over and take maniacal risks along the way to the office. Along the way the tag line, “Turn Risk Into Advantage”, is reinforced by embedded messages, in case we did not get the main theme”: “Know Risk, Know Reward”, “Do You Have The Risk Appetite For Success?” “Always Be Ready For The Unexpected.”

I actually like the “Turn Risk Into Advantage.” It is clever, memorable, and summarizes nicely what corporations are seeking in risk management advice. Yet it is completely overshadowed by the flip execution and the manner that suggests that KPMG employees, and by extension KPMG, take risks haphazardly.

Besides being out of context and lacking a narrative, the commercial ends on a cheesy note: upon arriving into the KPMG office and performing obligatory back flips, the couple race up the stairs, looks over the rail, look at each other, smile, and decide not to jump and take the elevator instead. This is a sensible move, perhaps the first one in this commercial.

Risk management is an essential practice, and perhaps as this advertising suggests, more in need than ever. Yet, it is not clear to me why the issue cannot be addressed heads on and intelligently. The irrelevant “packaging” simply detracts from the appeal of the practice.

Avi Dan is President & CEO of Avidan Strategies, a New York based consultancy specialized in advising professional service companies on marketing and business development. Mr. Dan was previously a board member with two leading advertising agencies and managed another.