Citigroup  : Rooting for the home team

A global footprint is slipped up by events.

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The feature

Citigroup, US-based financial services group, undermines its own positioning as a global institution.

Citigroup’s global corporate site uses dropdown section previews from its primary navigation bar. The About Us preview panel is split into two elements, with an illustrated content highlight to the right. The featured topic is currently ‘9 athletes. 9 programs’ and links to a microsite about Citi’s financial support of the nine US winter Olympics athletes shown in the highlight photograph. The section menu is shown to the left of the panel and includes headings for ‘Global citizenship’ and ‘Country presence’.

The same microsite, Every Step Of The Way, is also linked from one of the four featured-content panels on the global site’s home page. The page’s footer includes a description of the Citigroup site as “the global source of information about and access to financial services provided by the Citigroup companies”.

The takeaway

Citigroup is an international operator, with a presence in 44 countries ranging from Argentina to Vietnam as evidenced by the universal location finder on its global site. But while it can clearly take itself out of America, it finds it harder to take America out of itself even – or perhaps especially – in the context of a major international event such as the Olympics. While its highlighting of support for US athletes is many a mile away from flag-waving patriotism it will still impress a US-centricity on non-American visitors to the site that contradicts the effort evident elsewhere to promote the group’s global perspective and footprint.

Citigroup is not the first or only US-based company to struggle with the restraint global citizenship demands of toning down its national accent so as not to alienate local audiences (and nor is it anything other than a universal issue confronting all companies with international operations regardless of their home territory). But the degree to which it treads here on its own international interests suggests it should be looking for ways to fine tune its sensitivities and monitor content for its impact outside the 50 states.
First published 18 February, 2014
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