Has the pronunciation of “BMO” in BMO Harris Bank ever struck you as odd? It has bugged me for the last year, since I began hearing it on Packer radio broadcasts. Shortly after Harris Bank gobbled up mortgage-crippled M&I, it rebranded itself with an acknowledgement of its long-time parent, the Bank of Montreal…er, BMO Financial.  Bonjour, BMO Harris Bank.

The first few times I heard it, I thought it was a mistake; the announcer must have called it “BEE-mo” (not “B-M-O”) by accident.  It quickly became clear this was no accident however, and the cynic/marketing guy inside of came up with a conspiracy theory – the bank must be quietly but firmly instructing on-air talent to pronounce it that way, so as to de-emphasize the “M” (for Montreal).  After all, Midwesterners like to keep things local – especially their money – so it why not downplay the bank’s foreign ownership?

But now, the “BEE-mo” pronunciation conspiracy thing has jumped the shark , at least for me.  Their latest round of print creative goes out of its way to TEACH people the preferred pronunciation!  So much for subtle consumer manipulation, eh hosers?  I’m not sure what to make of this.  Is it a nod to the celebrity nickname shtick? (Bank of Montreal shortens to B-Mo, just like Jennifer Lopez shortens to J-Lo, etc.)  Or is it purely budget-based hubris? (“If we thrown enough weight behind this campaign we can make people call us anything…”)  Or is there some cute, endearing little story behind all of this? (I doubt it, but…maybe.)

Anyway, I’m not sure what to make of it, other than I still find it weirdly annoying. But maybe I’m just easily annoyed.

Anyone else have a theory?  Let’s hear it.

Andy Larsen

VP/Director of Public Relations

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