CITIGROUP

Before Alfred Hitchcock became a movie director, he was an estimator for a telegraph company. Before Dwight Eisenhower became commander-in-chief, he was an average student at Abilene High. And before Marilyn Monroe became a movie icon, she was an assembly-line worker. A voiceover treats us to these fun facts as old film clips of the three notables appear on screen. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the voiceover then draws a conclusion from these biographical tidbits: “Everyone has the potential to make history.” But that’s not true! The three people we see in the spot rose out of their ordinary beginnings because they had extraordinary talents. That’s why the commercial uses Hitchcock, Eisenhower and Monroe instead of Tom, Dick and Harry. With its loopy egalitarianism, the spot makes you wonder whether Citigroup has its head screwed on straight. These days, there’s even something scary about the notion of a nobody who’s determined to make history. When one of them does, it too often tends to mean setting off a bomb or shooting up a school.