Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Citi Ads Prove "Less Ponderous" Style Works. (Briefing)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Citi Ads Prove "Less Ponderous" Style Works. (Briefing)

Article excerpt

If advertising aims to tap into consumers unconscious minds, it succeeds when consumers unintentionally draw on the language of an ad campaign to describe it.

So it was when Brenda Marlin, director of the ABA Marketing Network, attempted to explain why Citigroup's "Live Richly" campaign won one of 14 category awards, plus a commendation, in ABA's annual advertising competition.

Citi's campaign was "awesome," says Marlin, partly because it responds to the current cultural situation where "people need to take time out and smell the roses." She was surprised to hear that one of Citi's print ads asserts, "Smelling the roses has nothing to do with smelling. Or roses."

That slogan is in the same vein as Citi's "Never confuse your means with your meaning." This from a church, yes, but a bank? Weren't most financial institutions in recent years encouraging even the average Joe to think about his "net worth"?

"Live Richly" emerged during the dot-com stock inflation and reacted against the general portrayal of consumers as millionaire wannabes, says Brad Jakeman, director of advertising at Citi. "When we spoke to middle-market Americans, they didn't want to be millionaires. Their interest was in buying a second car, or going on vacation, and the money to facilitate that.

"This huge incongruence led us to the brand positioning, 'Citi will be the bank that understands the balance you seek between your life and your money.

Especially since 9/11, Americans are reassessing what really matters to them, numerous sources suggest.

However, a worsening economy, and post 9/11, hasn't helped consumers' preexisting financial/retirement anxiety. …

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