Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Live Richly

I may be the only one who is completely impressed with Citigroup lately. I wrote about their incredibly successful cross-selling initiative (spearheaded by Tom Jones) last month; but I was also impressed on a personal level. My wife and I switched out banks last month, and are consistently blown away at how sophisticated they are. They’ve called three times to make sure everything’s in good shape. The woman at the branch who helped us called me while I was traveling to give me an update on some of the transfers. They even sent someone to our house - on a Saturday morning – to close on a home equity refinancing.

Then there’s the ad campaign. I think it’s great. Proof that a corporation can still establish a personality – that it can put life in perspective, that it can have a sense of humor, that it can live a little. It does what good avertising is supposed to do – stand out, be unique, and cause you to think about it after you’ve seen it. The billboards are hard to miss in target markets.

But apparently I’m alone. There’s this article in Salon, this scathing attack at TheStreet.com (both from February), and this week brings a cautionary critique at Slate. (Even though I disagree with the conclusion, I admit that I love Tim Carvell’s deconstruction of the Citigroup messages…)

Am I alone? I guess the T.D. Waterhouse spots with former Law & Order D.A. Steven Hill ripping off John Houseman are what banks are supposed to do?

I say kudos to Citigroup. I may be in the minority, but I like their style. Keep ‘em coming. Maybe the critiques are just coming from people whose jobs it is to take money seriously?


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