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Just Be Cause.

For some reason, I was never a Citibank guy.  I love Citi Field in Queens, home of the NY Mets and once applied for a job at Publicis to work on Citibank.  That said, I do have a rewards credit card in my wallet, but that’s more a function of American Airlines than Citi.  Banks are not a category I get all warm and fuzzy about, with the possible exception of  JPMorgan Chase, a brand I did a dive on a couple of years ago.

Today I was reading Andrew Ross Sorkin, a New York Times financial columnist, and as a result have newfound affinity for Citibank. It seems the boys and women at Citi Bank have decided to stop doing business with manufacturers and sellers of guns. Not an easy task. Certainly they will pizzle off the NRA. They will, as the story explained, suffer a number of credit cards being cut up and other lost relationships. Moreover, they will need to figure out how to shut down gun show work-arounds.     

But what they have done is put the masses ahead of their bottom line. This is a level of cause related marketing I have not seen in a long time. I don’t know the Citibank brand strategy. I don’t know the CEO. I don’t begin to understand basis points and earnings.  I do know balls. This is a ballsy cause.




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Facebook is going to be fine.  So long as the monetization and product people stay out of the way and don’t spam the product up too much.

My friend Frenchie and I like to hike on the Appalachian Trail.  Or at least we used to did (Steve-ism). At the end of every hike we’d give an award for the stupidest thing we carried.  The stupid algorithm was impacted by the thing’s size, bulk, weight and the degree to which we used it.  The reason I know Facebook will live on is because kids and, to a less extent, adults still like to check their statuses a lot.  Go to a concert with a teen or twenty somth and when the music slows or they get bored they mobile up to Facebook.  Take that behavior and extend it to college classes, business meetings, Mets game, etc. and you get the idea the Facebook is an anecdote for a bored world. It’s communications crack.  

A la the hiking story, imagine paying $85.00 for a ticket to a concert and spending a quarter of your time at the event on Facebook. It’s indicative of the platform’s power. Facebook, for many is an indispensable part of their life. It’s getting used all the time in that metaphoric backpack. Don’t worry about the stock. Mr. Zuckerberg — worry about the ham-handed business people who are likely to gunk up your product. Peace.

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I was in the Bronx Friday night at the Met Yankee game. Don’t ask.  And for all the falderal it was quite civil. I didn’t fly my Met colors, nor did I instigate.  I just did the late 1960s Fillmore West clap and watched me some hardball.  One thing I took away from the game, though, was an insight that for all of people’s preferences, divides and loyalties – if you find a point of common ground more important, you can create dialog. 

At one point during the national anthem I felt a 9/11 moment resulting from the video.  It brought the entire stadium together as one (in my mind). It pointed to something bigger than a baseball rivalry. And on two other occasions during the game I spoke with a couple of guys  who noticed my Pearl Jam shirt.  We connected on something that was perhaps even more important to us than a baseball game. As I walked along River Avenue leaving the game, a guy quietly said in passing “Yellow Ledbetter.”  I only half heard it until it registered, then I looked back and “peaced” him with a knowing smile. A brother.

The insight is this: You can always ladder up common ground or affinity with someone you don’t necessarily agree with. It takes work, and thought, and open-mindedness.  It’s a hunt worth pursuing. So marketers and planner dig in.  Peace!     

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