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Zurich’s US unit confuses Sweden with Switzerland

Zurich Financial Services - actually based in Switzerland - not Sweden Keystone Archive

If anyone should know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland it should be Scudder Investments, the US asset management unit of Swiss financial conglomerate Zurich Financial Services.

However, as Scudder tried to promote itself as a savvy global mutual fund manager it also managed to confuse the two nations in a full-page advertisement in the Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

“How many lightning bolts does it take to change a stock market,” the ad asks in bold lettering emblazoned over a dramatic photograph of lightning striking the ground and lighting a fire.

“In this case just one,” the ad copy continues beneath the picture. “Lightning destroyed the New Mexico chipmaker that supplied a Swiss cell phone giant. Practically overnight, stocks for the whole sector flip flopped and the market leader became a market loser.”


Swiss cell phone giant? The ad refers to an incident last year when a fire sparked by a lightning strike at a chipmaking plant in New Mexico operated by Dutch firm Philips Electronics crippled mobile phone production at Swedish telecommunication equipment maker Ericcson.

“What happened was somewhat along the line from the original copy from the final production…at the agency, that got switched from Swedish to Swiss,” said Bob Barsanti, Scudder’s senior vice president for brand development.

“It is embarrassing when mistakes like this are made. I pride myself on accuracy as does the agency,” he said. Scudder is working with Foote Cone and Belding, which created the ad, to find out what happened and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Scudder Investments unveiled the ads as it merged its Scudder and Kemper brands into a single product line. Zurich Scudder, Zurich’s US asset management arm, had $370million (SFr633 million) in assets under management at the end of 2000.

Zurich Financial in April hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to find out ways to strengthen Zurich Scudder, which was hit with billions of dollars of outflows last year, at a time when other mutual funds were raking in money. The company has not said when the results of the review are due.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR