See the Spot: Citi Takes the 'Say What You Wanna Say' Approach

Bank Uses Uncomfortable Date to Convey Benefits of Double Cash Credit Card

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Citi markets its Double Cash card.
Citi markets its Double Cash card. Credit: Citi

Poking fun at blind dates is low-hanging fruit for brands looking for a chuckle, and a new series of spots from Citi doesn't disappoint. To market the simplicity and transparency of its Double Cash credit card, the bank features a man and woman who aren't exactly hitting it off. Rather than make excuses and lie about rescue text messages from friends, the pair speaks plainly and admits they'll never see each other again.

"Wouldn't it be great if everyone said what they meant," a voiceover asks. "The Citi Double Cash card does.

When the card was introduced two years ago, Citi played up the value proposition of the card, which offers 1% cash back on unlimited purchases and 1% cash back as cardmembers pay for purchases. Yet the bank found that, in general, consumers are still confused about what credit cards offer and how they differ from the competition. Through a research survey, the brand found that one-third of respondents called the experience of selecting a credit card "complicated."

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"Citi is striving to remove that complication alongside selecting a new credit card, and in this particular campaign, we are showcasing humorous, everyday examples between what is said versus what is meant," said Jennifer Breithaupt, managing director, media, advertising and global entertainment, at Citi. She noted that the campaign should build more loyalty and trust with consumers by providing more transparency and authenticity in its marketing.

Indeed, transparency and self-awareness is the name of the game these days. Competitor Chase recently rolled out a campaign for its new Freedom Unlimited card featuring Ellie Kemper mocking the world of advertising and celebrity endorsements.

Citi's campaign includes 30-and 15-second spots, and out-of-home ads in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. The effort will be boosted through social and digital channels as well, Ms. Breithaupt said.

The bank worked with Publicis Groupe, which won Citi's global media business last fall. In 2014, Citigroup spent $332.4 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Ad Age's Datacenter. Last month, the company reported first-quarter revenue of $17.55 billion, an 11% decline from the year-earlier period.