Citi has begun rolling out a yearlong campaign in celebration of its founding in June of 1812, featuring both global elements and, as the campaign rolls on, content specifically for the banking giant's Asian markets. The TV commercial, created by Publicis in the US, is also being aired in India.
Francesco Lagutaine, Asia-Pacific head of markets and customer experience for Citi, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the company started planning for the anniversary a year and a half ago, wanting to mark the significant milestone but unsure how a big public splash would be received.
The results of the company's research were surprising "even for the most optimistic and enthusiastic among us", Lagutaine said. Customers responded well to the fact that company was built to last. Having begun its life in the same year as Charles Dickens and the steam locomotive, Citi has clearly gone through some tumultuous times but has managed to survive and thrive (the company reported US$78.4 billion in revenue in 2011, US$15 billion of that in Asia).
The campaign centers on three categories of stories: major imaginative business ventures Citi has helped fund (the first transatlantic cable in 1866), innovations the company has brought to its customers (24/7 ATM service) and the notion of never being satisfied with the status quo.
Based on these three themes, the company is rolling out a multichannel campaign including a website with a detailed timeline, a series of TVCs, print placements, online display ads, a chatty Facebook page ("In 1958, Citi backed the musical 'South Pacific.' What is your favorite classic movie or musical?), an app and out-of-home installations.
"The initial phase is importantly focused on global stories," Lagutaine said. "But also, in Asia, we've been in most of our markets for 100 years. So you will start seeing, as the campaign evolves, that the storytelling will continue to get progressively more local." Working with its agency Publicis, Citi has "deep dives teed up in 11 markets", including India, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, he added.
In addition, the company is working with online partners to leverage the concept of the campaign. For example, Citi is sponsoring the Financial Times/Citi Ingenuity Awards, which seeks to recognise individuals or organisations that have developed innovative solutions to urban challenges in education, healthcare, energy and infrastructure.
More partnerships along similar lines will be revealed as the 200-year anniversary campaign goes on, Lagutaine said.
This article first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific