Citibank Promo, Case study PROJECT TALK

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Industry Banking, Business equipment & services, Corporate Image
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Crisis and Issue Management
Advertiser: CITI
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Feakins (Publicis New York)
Executive Creative Director: Peter Moore Smith (Publicis New York)
Creative Director: Perry Essig (Publicis New York)
Creative Director: Tom Drymalski (Publicis New York)
Associate Creative Director: Chris Skurat (Publicis New York)
Associate Creative Director: Xavier Rodon (Publicis New York)
Account: Jeremy Bowles/Liz Oliveri/Sophie Von Pflugl (Publicis New York)
Global Strategy Director: Patrick O'Hare (Publicis New York)
Deputy Director of Production: LeeLee Groome (Publicis New York)
Senior Art Producer: Veronica Williams (Publicis New York)
Executive Creative Director: Steve Farrell (Publicis Modem)
Copywriter: Matt Parker (Publicis Modem)
Art Director: Tim Ramundo (Publicis Modem)
Partner: Russell Stevens/Mark Kaminsky/ Lenny Stern (SS&K)
Group Director: Danielle Tracy (SS&K)
Photographer: Christian Witkin (Art Department)
Producer: Liz Bradley (Radical Media)
Editor: Alex Horowitz/Vito Decandia (Radical Media)
Director: Paul Bozynowski (Radical Media)
Executive Producer: Justin Wilkes (Radical Media)
Media placement: Standard Banner - AOL Politics Daily, Washington Post, The Hill, The Economist, Politico, Bloomber - February 18, 2010
Media placement: Rich Media Banner - Yahoo Money, Bloomberg, Politico, The Economist - February 22, 2010
Media placement: Newspaper - Strip Ad - New York Times - Febuary 28, 2010
Media placement: Newspaper - Full Page Ad - Politico, Roll Call, The Hill, CQ Weekly, Washington Post, National Journal, CQ - March 3, 2010
Media placement: Website - - February 1, 2010
Media placement: Video Blogs - - February 1, 2010
Media placement: Vickram Video - NY Townhall - November 23, 2009
Media placement: Partnership Videos - - April 1, 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Citibank, once an illustrious financial institution, was blamed for events that led to the global economic crisis. And due to lack of oversight in its risk management business, the bank deemed “too big to fail” required $45 Billion in federal aid. American’s trust in Citi plummeted, and the credibility and reputation of Citi and its management was questioned and intensely scrutinized. To rebuild trust, Citi had to change the prevailing conversation - from its financial health to its commitment of fiscal responsibility, reform and America’s recovery. Research identified key elements for success: transparency, detail and change. Equally important was tone and sequencing of communications, with priority given to PR, digital outreach, followed with paid media. Citi created something new: an interactive blog called, which targeted influential Americans and invited them to have an open dialogue with the bank, as represented through its employees. Redirecting the conversation also involved a 16-city tour by senior management, an online media campaign, media partnership program, blogger outreach, paid search, social media program and a print campaign to drive site traffic. Since launching on February 1, 2010, generated 120,000 total visitors, over 95,000 unique visitors, over 12,000 video plays and hundreds of comments. .

The Goal
The objective of this campaign was to counteract the negative press. To change the prevailing conversation from Citi’s financial health to demonstrating the bank’s ongoing commitment to America’s economic recovery in a way that was credible, relevant and human. Influential Americans, e.g., journalists and financial media commentators who were actively using media to pass opinion on, were identified as the key audience. Research among these influential activists identified three key elements needed to succeed: transparency, detail and change. Equally important was both the tone and sequencing of communication – leading with PR, influencer outreach and digital, followed by paid media.

While key brand metrics have yet to be reported from the brand tracking study following its launch on February 1, 2010, the following are the metrics to date for the site: - 104,000 total visits - 90,000 unique visitors - the majority from the key congressional districts of the U.S. Northeastern region, including Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. - 12,000+ video plays - 400+ blog comments - The site is averaging 2,600 visitors a day Primary drivers of traffic have been blog links, internal communications and paid media. Top blog posts are those of “How Citi is changing” and “Our CEO on the new Citi and creating a culture of responsible finance.” Visitors were also most likely to watch the Citi CEO video than any other, followed by “A safer approach to risk.”

With the media focused on financial failings, Citi invited influential activists to help them change the conversation. Citi created an interactive blog allowing activists to have an open dialogue with Citi. The venue was, where Citi employees of all ranks talk about what’s being done to turn things around. The blog’s launch was initially scheduled for October 2009 to tie in with a 16-city tour by Citi executives to unfold their new strategy. Employee town hall events and meetings with communities and local businesses highlighted Citi’s efforts in spurring economic recovery. The road show was recorded, earmarked for the blog. The blog, however, didn’t officially launch until February 2010, and was followed shortly thereafter with an online media campaign and media partnerships. A blogger outreach, paid search (Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN) and social media program (including Twitter) launched in March 2010, as has a print campaign to drive site traffic.

The Situation
The economic crisis of the past three years was painfully acute in the US. Citibank, the largest and most visible bank, was bracketed with much of the wrong - doings of Wall Street that spurred the crisis. Poor risk management and close proximity to the subprime mortgage debacle led to billions of dollars in losses. Citibank required and received $45 Billion in federal aid. American’s trust and confidence in Citi plummeted, just like its stock. The credibility and reputation of the bank and its key management was called into question. Citi needed to change the conversation to rebuild trust and its reputation.

The Strategy
Because the environment was so enraged, Citi couldn’t depend on anyone’s goodwill in telling its story. However, evaluation of messaging in research identified ideas that connected with activists: - Acknowledging responsibility and Citi’s role moving forward - Making changes to the business with real reform - Demonstrating accomplishments toward economic recovery The strategy was crafted – create a transparent conversation - Build the rebuttal chapter by chapter. Digital was the core, all efforts were to drive engagement/dialogue. - The belief was that Citi was too big, and unfocused – yet Citi was streamlining business, focusing on core customers. - Viewed as an irresponsible risk taker – yet there was new concentration on risk management; simplified and more central. - Lacking clarity and leadership – yet there was new leadership and a new board, more focused and active. - Out of touch, greedy, arrogant – yet Citi acknowledged its responsibility and was concentrating on supporting recovery.