“Hey, Harvard!”

The silencing of Sovereign Bank’s virtual home equity hawker

Harvard Square has been home to some pretty bizarre residents—although none, it seems, as disturbing as a few virtual friends on Mass. Ave. Until recently, the two digital representations of real people enjoyed greeting passersby with a lively “Hey, you!” encouraging them to investigate home equity options as they walked past Sovereign Bank. Then, all of a sudden, they stopped talking.

The Sovereign voices have been silent for over a week. The toothy grins, the crisper-than-a-Docker’s-commercial khakis—gone, boarded up. Naima Bensassi, a personal banking representative at Sovereign Bank, adamantly insists, “We’re just trying to fix it, that’s all.”

But rumor has it that an unidentified Harvard student, beat, for lack of a better phrase, the (non-)living shit out of the thing. Who knew that unsolicited home equity advice could trigger such amusing aggression?

Their emphatic hellos had infuriated some, including, Stephen M. Fee ’07, a Crimson editor, who devoted his Sept. 29 rant in FM to Sovereign Bank’s talking man-advertisements. Fee claimed that the Square’s newest residents “drew his ire with unprecedented preposterousness.”

Although Bensassi claims that the bank didn’t receive negative comments about its atypical advertising approach, many students have expressed disdain. “It was either us or the machine, and I’m glad man has come out on top,” says Daniel K. Bilotti ’09.

Even Frenchie, a woman who lives in the Square, claims “Too many people were getting disturbed by it.”

Bilotti, Fee, and Frenchie all denied responsibility for the beating.

The peace and quiet may prove fleeting. Sovereign hopes to resuscitate its virtual salespeople within a week. In order to avoid—again, amusing—arrests, FM would urge readers not to respond with a repeat of this act. Next time a computerized man yells “Hey Harvard!” to you, play it cool. “Nice pants” is always a good reply.