While travelling in Australia, I repeatedly saw Citigroup’s latest advertising campaign, which readers can access on Citi’s website (citigroup.com) or its YouTube channel. The ad is intended to “change the story” – a term used cynically in the movie Wag the Dog – from Citi’s current perilous state to its glorious history.
Citigroup’s precursor, the First National City Bank of New York, is now 200 years old. The one-minute ad reminds us of its history of “supporting people, ideas, and innovations that make things better.” Specifically, the ad mentions the first transatlantic cable (1866), the Panama Canal (1904), the Marshall Plan (1948), the ATM (1978), and the Space Shuttle (1995). The ad attempts to reframe the banking business from merely lending money to actively supporting ideas. And many of the ideas that Citibank was supporting had their origins in the public sector.