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Posts Tagged ‘Citigroup’

Citigroup Is In The Bike Sharing Business. Is It Now Responsible For Any Of The Program’s Shortcomings?

In many ways, New York’s Citi Bike bicycle sharing program has been a success. In the weeks that the program has been in place, the Department of Transportation says more than a quarter of a million rides have been taken. There’s no doubt that, just looking around the city and seeing people pedaling about on their blue bikes, the program has been largely embraced.

Quibbles about bike stands and parking aside, there have been other issues with the bike program that are now being aired publicly. And ultimately, there’s the question of whether the program will ultimately be the PR positive that Citigroup certainly wanted when they signed up.

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How Brands Use Games to Develop Better Products and Marketing Campaigns

Gamification: it’s a relatively new buzzword, but you’ve probably been hearing a lot about it lately. Why? Because it’s now clear that digital games go well beyond your XBox and Farmville accounts. All kinds of brands can use games to promote their products: here, for example, Edelman PR‘s Robert Phillips discusses the firm’s success creating a digital bar distraction for popular rum brand Captain Morgan.

And companies don’t just use gamification to entertain customers and familiarize them with a brand–it can help them develop better products and figure out exactly what the public wants from them in the first place. We recently had the chance to chat with Julie Wittes Schlack, SVP of Innovation and Design at Communispace, to figure out how they help brands like Kraft, State Farm, Citigroup and Comcast develop better products and marketing campaigns with simple betting games known as “prediction markets.”

How does the public see “gamification”? Do they distinguish it from traditional video games? 

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Big Brands Encourage Supreme Court to Support Gay Marriage

Supreme Court of the United States An update in case you don’t follow judicial politics: The United States Supreme Court is about to hear a couple of cases challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), the 1996 legislation that effectively said “in the eyes of the federal government, marriage and related legal benefits can only occur between a man and a woman.”

Public opinion on the issue has shifted dramatically since that law passed, and now more than 200 of the country’s biggest brands are teaming up to let the Supreme Court know that this isn’t just a cultural or political matter–DoMA is making it harder for businesses to operate.

Brands ranging from techies like Facebook and Apple to consumer biggies like Nike and even financial titans like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs signed on to file what’s called a “supporting brief” or “friend of the court brief”. Their major point: DoMA effectively forces us to discriminate against our employees and makes the process of finding, courting and rewarding the talent we need that much more challenging.

How so, you ask?

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What Are America’s 10 ‘Most Hated’ Brands? And Why?

Lord VoldemortToday we came across a list of “America’s 10 Most Hated Companies” courtesy of Ragan’s PR Daily and 24/7 Wall Street, which compiled the worst of the worst based on “stock performance, employee and customer satisfaction, and management decisions.”

We were intrigued, so we figured we’d peruse the list and see what we could make of it. What are these brands, and what did they do to offend the American public (and their investors) so badly?

Here they are, along with our past and present theories on why they suck:

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Netflix CEO Posts World’s Priciest Facebook Update

Netflix CEO Reed HastingsReed Hastings, public persona and Netflix head honcho, took the opportunity to share some good news about his business with his 245,000 Facebook followers way back in July: Netflix viewers watched more than one billion hours worth of video in June (we proudly contributed to that number with our annual Arrested Development marathon).

Hastings has done this kind of thing before, but this time the stock bump that followed his status update caught the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission–and then things got messy.

The SEC sent Hastings a notice letting him know that they’re investigating him and may file a suit against the company for violating the Regulation Fair Disclosure rule, which requires companies to release business news to all investors simultaneously. In other words, they’ve essentially accused him of facilitating insider trading by making a very public statement. Bring on the lawyers…

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Citi Analyst Fired, Company Fined Over Email Snafus

We didn’t think Citigroup could fall any lower on the public opinion scale. The abrupt departure of CEO/punching bag Vikram Pandit was bad enough: Business Insider columnist Henry Blodget just came very close to labeling his subsequent “I resigned” claim as fraud.

But Citi’s fortunes keep getting worse: The bank recently settled a suit over releasing confidential information about Facebook’s financial status before the company’s IPO, and today brought news of a $2 million fine and the termination of a highly respected financial analyst.

Here’s what happened: Analyst Mark Mahaney, who is widely regarded as the financial industry’s number one expert on big-name tech companies like Google and Facebook, emailed a French journalist with his unpublished thoughts on the financial prospects of YouTube. This kind of move blatantly encourages insider trading. It went against his company’s official non-disclosure policy–and it also happens to be illegal.

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Billionaire’s $100M Central Park Donation: PR Win?

Yesterday New York’s Central Park experienced one of its most notable events since the installation of Christo’s temporary art project The Gates in winter 2005: billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation donated $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy. According to Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, “It is believed to be the biggest single gift ever made to park land.”

The New York Times reported on the rationale behind Paulson’s philanthropy: at Tuesday’s press conference announcing the donation, Paulson said, “Central Park is among the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions. And I wanted the gift to make a difference”. The funds will be evenly divided between the park’s endowment and capital improvements.

Paulson joined the Central Park Conservancy board in June, and he has supported the group for 20 years. According to Forbes, this gift far exceeds Paulson’s earlier philanthropic commitments, placing him “in a league with several of his most charitable peers atop New York City’s alternative asset management universe.”

Conservancy officials expressed delight at the bequest–president and CEO Doug Blonsky hailed the gift as “transformational,” saying it will enable the park to break its cycle of restoration and decline.

Paulson’s financial career has also experienced several ups and downs. He founded his hedge fund management company, Paulson & Co, in 1994 and became a billionaire in 2007, making most of his money by shorting subprime loans and effectively rooting for the collapse of the real estate market.

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Citigroup Wants to Be a Bank You Can Trust — and Follow on Twitter

It’s no coincidence that Citigroup now has a Facebook page, YouTube videos, and blogs behind it. The bank’s even tweeting, under the guidance of Frank Eliason, who joined in August to lead social media strategy efforts.

The bank is out to regain consumer trust, a Reuters story says, to “reach out to the younger, wealthier urban Americans that it wants as banking customers — and to improve the bank’s tarnished image.”

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Citi Is Trying to be Consumer-Centric

Citi's chief executive Vikram Pandit using the video chat at the new NYC branch. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty images

For the New Year, Citigroup is introducing a number of new credit cards, eliminating a few old ones, and offering consumers new perks. However, understanding and fully taking advantage of those perks – with a variety of fees and rules tacked on – could prove to be difficult, according to the New York TimesYour Money column.

The bank also made a big show of the grand opening of a new branch in NYC last week, which the Times says is one of many planned for cities nationwide in an effort to “bolster its consumer business.”

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