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Makeover Lessons for Citigroup

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The financial giant can learn from others how to shore up its image.

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Virtues and great service are rarely associated with the Citigroup (C) we know today -- the same one that took $45 billion in federal aid -- but those values are exactly what the company reportedly intends to push in its new ad campaign, which could start as early as next month.

Citigroup, which continues to promote its "Citi Never Sleeps" slogan, wants to shake off the image created by the credit crisis and its government association. Even though Citigroup needed billions in rescue funds, company sources tell the New York Post that the new ads will emphasize its focus on consumers as they, too, struggle to survive in today's economy.

Details of the upcoming campaign are still in the works, but there have been hints that Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit will take center stage. While most consumers don't know Pandit by name, rightfully or not, many of them blame him for the company's financial failures that have leaked into American homes.

The ads may also feature some of Citi's good deeds, like pushing easier mortgage plans to help distressed homeowners.

The campaign and its direction are risks, but Citigroup doesn't have much to lose. Its shares are still down 76 percent from their year-ago levels.

In addition to new advertising, the company is also reportedly in the midst of formulating a plan to pare back its bank fleet to better focus on six major metropolitan areas.

Citigroup is banking that this new campaign will redeem Pandit and the company as a whole, but whether consumers will migrate back to the company is unknown.

However, Citigroup isn't walking down Madison Avenue alone; Yahoo (YHOO) and AOL recently announced that they're also preparing to launch new ad campaigns as they hope to reclaim part of the online market and increase revenue.

Beginning new campaigns and trying to rebrand an image are age-old concepts in corporate America. Here are eight companies that, for better or worse, have undergone advertising makeovers:

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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