Ben Franklin has graced our $100 bill since the Federal Reserve issued the first one in 1914. Now, 100 years later, could Ben go bye-bye? Not likely, although the bills are getting a bad rap thanks to their prevalent use among criminals.
Nearly 80 percent of the $1.3 trillion of currency in circulation in the United States takes the form of $100 bills. Law enforcement confirms that criminals prefer $100 bills, because they make it easier for the criminals to carry around more money in less space.
The $100 bill has done nothing wrong. Throughout the years, the makers of the bill have gone out of their way to protect the authenticity of the bill. The Treasury has introduced many anti-counterfeit measures to try to thwart criminals. Through no fault of the bill or the bill maker, Ben’s image is taking a beating. According to Ronn Torossian, this can happen to any brand.
Corporations need good Public Relations plans to deal with negative publicity that can affect them due to the actions of others. One of the most well-known cases, and best examples of crisis management, is the Tylenol scare in 1982. Seven people died as a result of cyanide poisoning after someone tampered with bottles that were already on the shelves.
Although Johnson & Johnson had nothing to do with the tampering of their product, they immediately took ownership. At great expense, they removed the product from the shelves, suspended advertising and redesigned packaging.
By instituting anti-counterfeit measures, such as 3-D security ribbons, color shifting images, watermarks, and color, the Treasury has redesigned the “package” for the $100 bill. Even though the US government has gone to great lengths to improve security features, in August 2014 the Secret Service broke up a counterfeit operation. The ring had existed for 15 years and managed to thwart many of the security measures.
With the criminal element behind the $100 bill’s negative connotation, some have even called for elimination of it altogether. Ken Rogoff, a Harvard professor and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, wrote a paper that advocated for removing the bill from circulation.
Ronn Torossian points out that if criminals can tarnish the image of an American icon simply because it is their bill of choice, then company brands need to prepare for their own strategy for dealing with negative PR through no fault of their own.