Category Archives: Citigroup

Cell phone asks, will you marry me?

Darryl points to a wicked new promo for the Motorola Z10 cell phone, shot and edited entirely on the gadget and featuring, yes, this real home-made marriage proposal. Not only does it show what the current iPhone can’t do, it also highlights the power of real people and real stories in advertising.

Unlike those oh-so-apparently fake Citi ads.

Campaign by CakeGroup. (Video link updated.)

Citigroup’s untruths in advertising

Something has been bothering us about Citigroup’s rebranding campaign this year: It’s just too good to be true. Back in May, Publicis reworked Citi’s red-arch logo into an international “Let’s Get It Done” concept — with Citi connecting consumers to the financial possibilities of college, career, or travel. The campaign began sweetly, such as this UK spot showing a little kid aspiring to business.

But recently Citi’s campaign has developed a whiff of BS. Print ads in the states show a dog hugging a stuffed animal (Citi helped a desperate homeowner appease a lonely pet), an attractive model who turned her kitchen into a shoe closet (the art design is flawless, beautiful clothes and shoes on shelves over a little stove), and a mom who cooks a tofu turkey for a vegetarian daughter-in-law (again, perfect photography, with the sweet ending sentiment that mom saved a little real turkey for the hubby).

So what’s our problem? These are wonderful, compelling tales. But they lie. They insinuate clearly they are real stories, but nowhere do the ads disclose that they are either truth or fiction. The creative is so over-the-top with art production and cinematography that these actors and models can’t possibly be the real deal. Here’s a young man who uses Citi to surprise mom with a suit for the holidays. Here’s a father and son who travel to Norway, research their family history … and discover they are Swedish. So clever. We bet.

Look, Citi, we understand that your creative team is telling you this is all OK, that these are idealistic narratives that don’t state anywhere they are true. We’re sure the copywriters are typing away at new sweet nothings to share with the public. But when you show a photo of a model and say “My name is Sue” and then “I did this,” you’re telling us the woman in the photo is really Sue and she really did this. And if she didn’t, that’s wrong.

Maybe somewhere there’s a woman who turned her kitchen into a shoe closet — but we bet she doesn’t look a thing like the beautiful model now appearing in The New Yorker. Citi, give us pure fiction or give us pure reality. Let’s get it done.