Citi Retreads Old Slogan, Recycles Marketing

Citi recently unveiled a new brand campaign bearing the firm’s old slogan “Citi Never Sleeps.” The original version of the slogan, “The Citi Never Sleeps,” was first used by the firm 30 years ago.

According to the NY Times, Citi’s marketing department thought about resurrecting the old slogan as early as last year, but passed because when then-CEO Charles Prince said he wanted “something fresh and focused on the theme of financial partnership.”

\Citi ended up choosing “Let’s Get It Done” instead, which seems to capture what Prince was after. But some people felt the selection was just a little too close to the popular catchphrase of redneck-sensation Larry the Cable Guy: “Git-R-Done!”

Then the mortgage crisis hit. That meant the end for both CEO Prince and his new tagline. They were both out. At least Prince made it 5 years. His tagline lasted fewer than 10 months.

$30 Million Doesn’t “Get It Done”
Of the $451 million Citi spent on brand advertising in 2007, $30 million went towards launching the “Let’s Get It Done” slogan — in just its first two months. Citi says it expects to spend another $20-30 million on their refreshed “Citi Never Sleeps” campaign.

Cost-cutting has been a big theme around Citi lately. So to save money on its new spot, Citi says it used leftover footage and music from a previous “Let’s Get It Done” TV ad. You have to wonder: What did Citi’s agency charged to dust off some footage and slap an old slogan on it?

It isn’t the first time a big brand has recycled its marketing. Sony did something similar earlier this year.

Citi’s launch spot for the “Never Sleeps” campaign shows random clips of business and societies from around the world. There’s no correlation between the script and video. Too bad. It would have been much more effective if the visuals had linked with the script in some way. Doing so would have evoked more feeling — a greater emotional reaction. Instead, the spot feels somewhat hypnotic — a “safe commercial” that is perfectly ignorable:

The script tries very hard to be earnest and sincere. Citi seems to be shooting for the feeling of a manifesto or a mantra, but it isn’t working. It’s just repetitive. “Never sleeps…never sleeps…never sleeps…” It’s even repetitive in another language. [You can read the whole script on page 2.]

Someone slapped a parody video together almost immediately.

Of course there’s a microsite attached to the campaign, but it isn’t anything more than a turnstile counting clicks. The experience isn’t engaging, and the site lacks any depth. Its only real function is to drive people to the websites of other Citibank business units.

The “Turning-Dreams-Into-Realities” device is a tired one in the financial industry, although Citi’s iconic red “umbrella” linking the two words is a nice touch.

Reality Check: Who visits a microsite for a Citibank slogan? Seriously.

Miscellaneous Musings:

  • How much caffeine do you think it takes to keep a financial institution this size up all night?
  • Losing only one night’s sleep can shut your brain completely off.

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