In their own words (part 2): Citi, Blackwater, PCA

Continuing our look this weekend at the literary flourishes of some of corporate America’s least-trusted companies, today we’ll examine the work of Citibank, Blackwater and the Peanut Corporation of America.

As I was keying in some examples of Citi’s print advertisements (for some reason, they’re posted on the web in a form you can neither print nor copy, and in a type size that’s barely readable), my word processing grammar check kept highlighting huge swaths of copy. Advertising writers. They love incomplete sentences. And short ones. Let’s look.

Maybe you dream of owning a home. Of opening a business. Or taking it global. Of retiring. Or choosing not to. Of enriching your life. Or the lives of others. Your dreams are always there. Always beckoning. Which is why we’re always wide-awake. Working tirelessly, around the world and around the clock. Providing funding and financing, investments and advice. So you can settle into that new home. Or give your daughter a credit card when she leaves for college. So you can call yourself CEO. Or say konichiwa to new markets. Every minute of every day, we’re striving to find new and innovative solutions. To simplify life’s complexities. And to turn dreams into realities.

Yes, we all have, or at least had, a dream of retiring some day. Most of us didn’t realize, however, that retirement would come not with a party and a gold watch but with a box of our personal belongings being carried out by a security guard. Thanks to Citi. And other large, irresponsible corporations.

The dream theme that accompanies the “Citi Never Sleeps” slogan is shown a few more times:

After an evening of tantrums that shook the walls, Kate has finally begun to dream. But down the hall, her father wonders how he’ll afford to send her to college, while her mother considers a larger home. Downtown, Kate’s overworked pediatrician ponders an early retirement. In Bentonville, a shipment of Kate’s favorite peas arrive at the baby food bottling plant. And in Sydney, a sing-along DVD is being filmed, one that’ll provide Kate’s grateful parents with a brand-new lullaby.

And then there’s the international angle:

The tower cranes are still. The backhoes are silent. And for a weary group of Guangzhou construction workers, the long work day has finally come to an end. But in Lyon and Dubai and Delhi, the work continues for several more hours. Meanwhile in Vancouver and Sao Paulo, the daily toil has only just begun. The fact is, there are 6.6 billion of us spread out across the planet. And only one financial institution has the vast depth and breadth of resources to keep pace. At Citi, we work around the world and around the clock, providing our clients with innovative thinking and new opportunities. And we’ve been doing so since 1902, when our Shanghai office became the first American bank in Asia. Today, we’re in over 100 countries, yet our people remain 98% local. It’s this unparalleled combination of global experience and local insight that enables our clients to grow and prosper. The world never sleeps. That’s why Citi never sleeps.

Except, perhaps, through that one corporate ethics meeting that was so boring.

Blackwater, which became infamous for its abuses of power during the Iraq war, has since been forced to leave that country and also has lost many of its U.S. government contracts. In an attempt to remake itself, it’s now called Xe (pronounced “Zee”) and is refocusing on training and logistics. This new emphasis is stressed in a part-time position for firearms and tactics instructor being posted online.

Primary Purpose: Provide quality high risk firearms and tactitcs [sic] instruction to Xe customers.

Essential Functions: responsible for teaching pistol, carbine, and shotgun courses; responsible for assisting in teaching high-risk hostage rescue courses; responsible for teaching officer survival courses; responsible for assisting in teaching surveillance detection courses; responsible for safety of students.

Working Conditions: Position is considered to be part time only. Work is based in a busy training environment and subject to frequent interruptions. Frequent work outside and in inclement weather conditions is required, including heat, cold, and humidity. May be exposed to fumes or airborne particles, toxic or caustic chemicals and vibration.

Lest we think Blackwater/Xe has lost its heart, their “proshop” is still open for business, offering logo-imprinted stuffed bears, money clips, pilsner glasses, lighters, coffee mugs, ladies rings and “Defending Our Freedom” stickers.

Finally, we look at the Peanut Corporation of America. In case you forgot, these are the folks who, despite their still-present slogan of “Processor of the World’s Finest Peanut Products,” brought us those salmonella-tainted spreads a few weeks ago. Their prose, by necessity, is a little less flowery and a little more legal:

As you may know, certain recent events have made it necessary for Peanut Corporation of America to seek protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Effective immediately, all corporate operations will cease. Any questions regarding the company or the operations of its affiliates should be forwarded to the company bankruptcy counsel.

Helpful Links: American Peanut Council, National Restaurant Association, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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