Corporate Eye

Which Brands Deserve a Bailout – Ford, AIG, Hustler?

larry_flint_hustler_clubThis week, two of the best known brands in the pornography industry – Hustler and Girls Gone Wild, petitioned the U.S. government for a $5 billion bailout to reposition and rebuild both companies citing a 22% loss in sales and rentals over the course of the prior year due to the increased availability of sexually explicit material on the Internet.  As far as the two brand champions, Larry Flynt and Joe Francis, are concerned — if banks and auto manufacturers could get bailouts, then why not companies that deal in pornography?

joint press release from Hustler and Girls Gone Wild quotes Larry Flynt as defending the bailout request as follows, “People are too depressed to be sexually active.  This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex.”  I should note that neither company is in jeopardy of collapsing.  Instead, the press release says, “The $13 billion in industry is in no fear of collapse, but why take chances?”

It’s an interesting scenario that raises a bigger question – which brands are deserving of bailouts when poor business practices lead to failure on a grand scale?  What makes one brand deserving of being saved and another undeserving?

In other words, what is the value of a brand not just to investors and consumers but to the larger world around it?  Ford, Chevrolet and General Motors appear to be vital for the United States to continue operating (at least according to the government) and thus, those companies received a sizeable bailout. 

I guess the question is this – is your brand valuable enough to be deserving of a bailout?  On the other hand, should any brand be deserving of a bailout?  That’s a question that hits on branding, marketing, finance, ethics, and much more.  What do you think?

Image: Flickr

The following two tabs change content below.
Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.