Sunday, July 13, 2008

Can a 30-year old tagline move a brand forward?

In a June 9 ADWEEK story, Gregory Solman asked, Can a return to popular taglines of yore help restore a brand's luster?

Citigroup just revived its "Citi never sleeps" tagline, part of a new global campaign for Citi (formerly Citibank) launched last month.

The tagline was written in 1977 by the Wells, Rich, Green agency. The reason for its resurrection, according to sources, was straightforward: to remind consumers of more robust economic times and distance the bank from the recent spate of credit crunch-related bad news -- most notably, its declining revenue. Bob Moore, CCO of Publicis USA, the bank's agency, says Citi's CEO, Vikram Pandit, asked for the return of the old tagline.

The "Citi never sleeps" tagline "heralded a return to the brand's core value of customer service," says Moore. "And instead of being nostalgic was, in fact, a way to move the brand forward."

Solman points out that the dusting off of old taglines has accelerated in recent years. Other brands that resurrected taglines include The New York Times Media Group, Finesse and Red Lobster. Now I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I think these old taglines are being brought out of retirement because they make sense and they resonate with consumers. Somewhere along the way, marketers and their agencies got too smart, or too trend-obsessed to create simple, meaningful positioning lines that anyone can understand. Do we have to look back 30 years to find really good branding? Certainly not, but if a 30-year old tagline can do a better job of reassuring a bank's customers in these frighteningly uncertain economic times, then by all means bring it back.

Getting back to basics - that certainly is a good way to move a brand forward.

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