There’s a large Citibank poster on Hammersmith Broadway. Thanks to
the traffic, I’ve seen rather a lot of it. It stars dear old Sir Elton,
wearing a pink jacket and crooning away, as is his wont. Citibank, it
transpires, is sponsoring the man’s world tour.
The line reads: ’Not your average bank statement.’ Quite so, although
whether that refers to Sir Elton’s bank statements or the statement the
sponsorship makes about Citibank is not clear. And in the
bottom-right-hand corner, next to the logo, runs another line: ’Who says
a bank can’t rock ’n’ roll?’
Well, I do. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always believed that people,
companies and institutions should stick to their trade. In the words of
Shakespeare: ’This above all, to thine own self be true.’ Don’t try to
be something you’re not. Of all organisations, this applies most to a
bank. Citibank should know this. In the early 80s, it nearly went under
in its bid to be the biggest bank in the world, a strategy that involved
lending billions to dodgy third world dictators - ie it strayed away
from its heartland of US retail and corporate banking. At the time, this
was banking’s equivalent of a rock ’n’ roll strategy: a bit on the edge
and all that.
Like most people, I suspect, I want my bank to be anything but rock ’n’
roll. In fact, I want it to be everything rock ’n’ roll isn’t: dull,
cautious and safe. That’s why Swiss bankers still epitomise the
I understand what Citibank is up to. By all means sponsor Sir Elt if he
means something to the target audience - but remember, even they
probably don’t want to put their money into a rock ’n’ roll bank.
According to research from Radio Rentals, the average consumer is
unprepared for digital TV, confused about what it does and how to buy
It is a useful reminder to media owners of the fact that, faced with an
explosion of choice, the natural response of many consumers is to stick
their heads in the sand and stay with what they know.
A new report from the Radio Advertising Bureau makes the same point in a
more forceful way. Like many media junkies, I’d always assumed that
radio listeners were at their most promiscuous in the car. With pre-set
buttons and automatic scanners, nothing could be easier than hearing Sir
Elton (nothing personal) or yet another mobile phone commercial and
immediately hitting the buttons.
Apparently not. The British are conservative in their in-car listening
habits. A third of us stick with the same station and, of those who do
roam around, 80 per cent only change once or twice in a journey. We know
what we like and we like what we know.
In terms of the recent growth in the number of radio broadcasters, there
is a parallel between this medium and digital television. Even with the
full panoply of choice from digital TV, viewers will select from a very
small number of channels. And once they’ve found the ones they like,
they’ll be hard to shift.