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Michael Douglas on FBI public service announcement

Billy Gardner

Michael Douglas, "the movie was fiction but the problem is real"

recants statements by his Wall Street character Gordon Gekko

Michael Douglas released a public service announcement in cahoots with the FBI. The clip begins with Michael Douglas’s Academy Award winning role as Gordon Gekko in the 1987 film Wall Street. The fictional character quotes his famous role from the film, “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

Michael Douglas halts the performance by saying yes, “the movie was fiction, but the problem is real,” the character Gordon Gekko often cheated investors out of their savings and Douglas continued, “Our economy is increasingly dependent on the success and the integrity of the financial markets. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Douglas encourages the public to learn how to identify securities fraud and to report insider trading to their local FBI authorities. Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business said Douglas is creating a brand for his own name, and this brand has helped both him and the FBI,
“They are making the whole thing much more interesting than it otherwise would be. Very few are interested in watching an ad for the FBI. But many are interested in seeing what Michael Douglas has to say about things,” he continued, If their goal is to generate leads and to get people to come forward, this is going to be very effective for them.”

On the other side, some say the FBI name is in some ways tarnished by this branding. Howard Pulchin, executive VP and managing director of brand stewardship at Edelman asked the question, “Is Michael Douglas, a well-known actor, and his character, his best known character, going to trump the message of the important work the FBI is trying to do?”

He told Forbes, “The message has to be louder than the messenger. And in this case, the messenger may be speaking louder than the message. If you have a high-profile messenger, you have to surround him or her with other ways to make sure the message speaks louder than the messenger.”

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