This month the New York Times got so desperate it sold on ad on the bottom of the front page of the Sunday paper. These ads were such a big deal people that people wrote stories and blogged about them. I don't know how much the ads cost, but I know they are expensive and flashy. So why did Citibank, which got federal bailout money, have to do it?

If there's one thing I would like to see from all the companies included in the federal government bailout (aside from staving off the country's financial collapse and reigning in executive salaries), it's less of them. If we're giving/loaning you a fortune, could you not blow it on extravagant ad purchases? I know if the banks pull back in advertising that will hurt media businesses. And the banks claim they have to grow. But since they're not loaning money to anyone anyway, do they really need to spend this much on ads?

Citibank isn't the only one. Those Capital One ads were annoying before Capital One Financial took $3.5 billion in federal help. Now I really don't want to see them. During the Super Bowl we watched an ad from eTrade. According to this handy list of bailout recipients from Time Magazine, eTrade got $800 million in the bailout. Broadcast and Cable says Super Bowl ads cost up to $3 million this year.

Here's my advice for the bailed out banks: Consider every story about the bailout to be free advertising. It's just one more gift from the American taxpayer. So, no need to spend our money bombarding us with ads about what a great company you are right now.

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