Citi Bike: Citibank's New York Marketing Coup @BW

Citi Bike: Citibank's New York Marketing Coup
City skyline photograph by Getty Images
Vikram Pandit stood fidgeting in a park near New York’s City Hall, looking owlish in a suit and rimless spectacles. It was May 7, 2012, and he’d had better springs.Citigroup (C), where he was chief executive officer, had recently flunked a government “stress test” meant to identify which big lenders were still shaky in the wake of the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve had vetoed an $8 billion stock buyback, and irritated shareholders had just voted against Pandit’s pay package of $15 million.
Today the news was better. Pandit took his place next to a podium as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced to a gaggle of reporters that, after three years of study, the city was finally starting a bike-sharing program—one that would cost taxpayers nothing, thanks to a $41 million deal with Pandit’s Citigroup. The cobalt blue two-wheelers, the mayor said, would be called Citi Bikes.
As Bloomberg detailed the program, which he said would grow to include 10,000 bicycles at 600 stations across the city, he kept tripping over its name. “The person who I have the pleasure of introducing next hopes that everyone does exactly the same thing I did four or five times: confuse ‘Citi Bike’ with ‘Citibank,’ ” the mayor said. “That is very good for Citibank’s business, and presumably the reason why they are the sponsor of this—and I certainly hope it works.” (The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of this magazine.)