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March 8, 2011

Morgan Stanley To Drop Smith Barney Naming

According to the Wall Street Journal, Morgan Stanley is probably going to change the name of its Morgan Stanley Smith Barney brokerage unit by dropping the Smith Barney name and effectively putting to rest a 73 year old brand name in finance.

MorganStanleySmithBarney.pngThis is not surprising. The name change will streamline the Morgan Stanley brand that is now under the Citigroup umbrella (couldn't resist the pun).

Alternate names include "Morgan Stanley Advisors, Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Advisors, and Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management."

I am not sure what the outcome will be, and I doubt that the Smith Barney name will be missed... but one thing is certain - many of us recall the Smith Barney TV ad featurng John Houseman (the mean law professor from The Paper Chase), who solemnly and arrogantly tells us that Smith Barney makes money the old fashioned way: "They Eeeeearn it."

That ad has inspired countless stand ups and was the outward face for a company that was mired in scandals.

The campaign ran from 1979-1986, and Houseman himself died in 1988 after doing many similar ads featuring a buttoned down professorial type expounding the virtues of various products.

It seems hard to believe that the payoff line in those Smith Barney commercials has endured for 25 years.

This may be a case where the brand name dies, but the tagline remains.

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Posted by William Lozito at March 8, 2011 8:50 AM
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