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Nelson Bunker ‘Bunkie’ Hunt died last week. In a state filled with oversized egos and personalities (i.e. ‘Texas-Rich’), Bunkie was one of the true giants. He was a son from the first marriage of the famous Texas oilman-legend H. L. Hunt. Well over 6 feet tall, he also neared 300 pounds in girth when that meant something and let’s just say, it wasn’t all muscle. Bunkie’s greatest notoriety came when he tried to personally corner the world’s silver market in 1980 when he bought up fully one-third of the world’s silver. He drove the price from the mid-teens to over $50 per ounce. However when it became known that he personally was buying up the silver, the market collapsed and the price dropped to less than $11 per ounce and Bunkie was nearly wiped out. That led to one of the greatest Texas-Rich lines of all-time, “A billion dollars ain’t what it used to be.” While I have no personal knowledge precisely on that point, I certainly believe that truism.
Bunkie’s attempt may have failed simply because he did not market correctly what he was trying to accomplish so today I wanted to use his audacious attempt to corner the entire world’s second most precious commodity to continue the discussion of how a compliance officer might work to internally market the compliance function throughout a company. I recently read an article by Raymond L. Panneton, in the Texas Lawyer. It was entitled “Be the Brand: 5 Tips for Marketing a Practice” and provided Panneton’s thoughts on how a lawyer or law firm “might properly distinguish yourself from your competition”. Bunkie’s response was simply to try and buy up all the world’s silver to establish his identity. Alas a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner may not have quite the resources that Bunkie had before his forlorn effort. So I have adapted Panneton’s marketing prescriptions for the compliance practitioner.
Panneton ends his piece by noting, “Branding is not something that is taught in law school, it is learned through trial and error.” The same is true in the compliance world, particularly for us recovering lawyers. However, I believe a little effort will go quite a long way. Perhaps you can outdo Bunkie and actually corner the world’s silver market all by your lonesome if you have a personal wealth of $16 billion and the right marketing message.
Visit the FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog, hosted by Thomas Fox, for more commentary on FCPA compliance, indemnities and other forms of risk management for a worldwide energy practice, tax issues faced by multi-national US companies, insurance coverage issues and protection of trade secrets.
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© Thomas R. Fox, 201
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