American International Group - AIG

The Challenge

Restoring AIG’s corporate reputation after becoming the poster child for America’s “Great Recession”


In late 2008, the U.S. economy began to melt down, resulting in a time known as the Great Recession.  At the center of this financial storm, AIG was identified as the company most responsible for its central role in the global financial market meltdown. Additionally, poorly-timed bonuses to AIG executives received extensive negative press coverage. AIG went from a respected worldwide corporation to a disreputable firm that was unlikely to survive as a company.

The Solution

Repaying the American taxpayer $180,000,000,000 and becoming a respected corporate citizen by developing an external communications and public policy outreach strategy


In consultation with Hawthorne Strategy Group and its communications partners, AIG aimed to restore its reputation through a marketing campaign that demonstrated its serious commitment to becoming a worthy and reputable firm. Hawthorne guided AIG on a communications strategy that involved outreach to U.S. Congressional members, engagement with key members of the national media, and work on greater C-suite visibility by means of media interviews, conference participation activities, and engagement with other public officials. Hawthorne secured media coverage of AIG’s successful financial strategy to pay back the $180 billion it had received from the U.S. Government plus interest, thereby further increasing confidence in the brand.

The Results

AIG no longer leads the list of companies with the poorest corporate reputations and is again a leading provider of insurance


In both a previous public relations agency role and as CEO of Hawthorne, principal senior executive Gene Reineke helped re-establish AIG with various stakeholder audiences to build credibility and restore its corporate reputation. Earned media, paid advertisements, video production, and other PR tools contributed to this success. Hawthorne engaged directly with The White House, the Office of the Mayor of Chicago, and other local officials on AIG’s behalf. Hawthorne also positioned AIG’s CEO as a participant in the Obama administration’s Cybersecurity Conference. Hawthorne’s public relations support helped AIG survive the aftermath of the Great Recession.