Citigroup Inc.

AuthorBridget Kerr

Page 329

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Note: Also see essay for Citibank.

Citibank, a subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., the largest financial-services company in the world, offered consumer and corporate banking services through some 1,400 offices in more than 40 countries. In the early twenty-first century, amid a strong U.S. economy, Citibank initiated research for an advertising campaign to promote its personalized services, attract financially savvy consumers seeking options for investing their new wealth, and strengthen brand recognition. With the help of newly hired advertising agency Fallon Worldwide of Minneapolis, Citibank launched the "Live Richly" advertising campaign in 2001.

The rebranding campaign, with an estimated budget of $100 million, was built around the tagline "Live Richly." The television, print, and billboard campaign featured slogans such as "People with fat wallets are not necessarily more jolly," "Holding shares shouldn't be your only form of affection," and "He who dies with the most toys is still dead," emphasizing the importance of living life to the fullest while downplaying the focus on money. In addition to promoting the Citibank brand, the campaign sought to highlight Citibank's credit-card division as well as its retail bank operations.

Several of the "Live Richly" television commercials were named "Best Spots" by Adweek magazine. The campaign ran through 2004 and inspired such related campaigns as "Identify Theft Solutions," which promoted Citibank's security solutions for credit-card customers. "Live Richly" succeeded in raising interest in Citibank and its offerings: following the unveiling of ads for Citibank's new financial service Citipro, the number of information requests for Citipro at retail branches increased 47 percent.


Founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, this urban merchant's bank continued to expand and diversify its services over the next century. The bank changed its name to Citibank, N.A. (National Association), in 1976, following its parent holding company's change to Citicorp. In 1998 Citicorp and the Travelers Group completed a $76 billion merger to form Citigroup, Inc. Citicorp was at the time the second-largest commercial bank, and Travelers Group was a leading international insurance/investment-banking firm. The Citicorp-Travelers merger thus represented a new era of horizontal expansion.

Citigroup then began an acquisition spree that included acquiring in 2002 Golden State Bancorp (the parent company of First Nationwide Mortgage and California Federal Bank), a move that added 352 branches and approximately 1.5 million new customers

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to Citigroup. By then the company was well on its way to having 3,000 bank branches and consumer-finance offices in the United States and Canada, plus an additional 1,500 locations worldwide.

The terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001, initiated changes in American opinions regarding finances. While Americans were left reordering their priorities to allow more time at home with family, Citibank was creating a "new standard" in consumer retail banking. "In a down economy people want to hear that money isn't important," said Al Ries, chairman of Ries & Ries, a marketing consultancy in Atlanta, Georgia. Though the market research for the "Live Richly" campaign had been completed prior to 9/11, Citibank, with its simple and reassuring ads, benefited from consumers' fears of corporate layoffs and the stock-market instabilities of a down economy.

"Live Richly"...

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