Citibank Tries to Swim With the Sharks, But Gets Bitten

The New York Time published an interesting story about Citibank’s environmental reputation.  Apparently, Citibank Hong Kong ran a promotion giving a 15% discount to Citibank card holders for a shark’s fin dinner at Maxim’s Chinese Cuisine.

Oops.  While shark fin is considered a delicacy in the Orient – and most of the world’s commerce in shark fin takes place in or through Hong Kong, there is growing global concern about the legality and sustainability of harvesting the fins.

The promotion drew swift condemnation, with a lively discussion group created on Facebook and an e-mail campaign aimed at Citibank’s marketing manager.

Last week, Citibank Hong Kong withdrew the promotion, which was to have run until the end of the month, in response to feedback. ‘‘Citibank is committed to managing our business in a manner that benefits the society and the environment,’’ it said in a statement.

“A few years ago, there may have been no reaction to Citibank ads promoting shark fin soup,” Michael Skoletsky, executive director at Shark Savers in New York, said in an e-mail message. “Now, Citibank’s fast response shows that companies can’t fall behind an informed public on important environmental problems like shark fin soup.’’

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