Should Citi be advertising with Federal bailout money?

It’s an outrage!

With people suddenly saving more money than any time in the past 6 years, why don’t the big banks can cut their advertising and promotional spending?

Why don’t they shift their dollars into more effective forms of advertising?  Or adopt a more effective set of marketing tools to replace the old brand positioning approaches?

Citi has now taken over $350 billion in a combination of direct capital infusions from the Federal TARP funds and Federal guarantees.  That a lot of billions.  

Why is Citi spending nearly $400 million dollars for naming rights to the new Mets stadium, according to our friends at the NY Times?

For that matter, the same goes for Bank of America, Wells Fargo and everyone else who has received Federal funds both on Wall Street and elsewhere.

Now Citi says that none of the TARP money is going into advertising and sponsorships.  That they have a wall separating out these funds.  And that might be true, technically.  But certainly TARP funds into one side of the bank frees up funds in other areas.  

In these dramatic times, Citi can stand apart by taking bold approaches to their marketing.

There is a good case to be made that Citi could cut all of their television advertising by 2/3rds, introduce more effective marketing approaches such as Narrative Branding, and see an improvement in their ROI on marketing.

That would also buy them invaluable good will with Congress and the White House — their most important audience today.

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