Citigroup Brand, Ad Manager Steve Cone Quits

"Great marketing cannot overcome a ho-hum product. If you find yourself in a company with a mediocre product, get out before it fails."

So advised Steve Cone in his book, Steal These Ideas, published by Bloomberg Press in 2005. Is Cone getting out of Citigroup ahead of a failure?

Industry observers yesterday thought not, but the managing director and head of advertising and brand management at Citigroup Global Wealth Management could not be reached for comment after sending an e-mail to various contacts in which he had written "Bank holiday" as the subject line and the cryptic message: "Citi and I have parted ways. Contact me to talk about what's next."

A Citigroup spokesperson confirmed that Cone had resigned. He refused to comment on the reasons why or whether a replacement had been named.

Along with five other senior executives, Cone coordinated worldwide brand management for all of Citigroup's businesses in more than 100 countries for 200 million customers. Citigroup is believed to be involved in a rebranding initiative.



Prior to joining Citigroup, Cone had worked in marketing at Fidelity Investments, KeyCorp., and Epsilon, a direct marketing agency outside of Boston.

The financial services giant, under pressure from shareholders to improve performance, yesterday said that first-quarter profit fell 11%, due in part to restructuring charges aimed at eliminating 17,000 jobs worldwide in an attempt to cut costs. Even so, trading gains surged because those results exceeded analysts' forecasts. While profit declined for a third straight quarter, shares rose more than 3% amid signs that efforts by CEO Charles Prince to control costs are working.

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