The country's largest bank has taken a cue from one of its biggest competitors in the credit-card ad market by recruiting Nickelback and Mary J. Blige for its new "Story of a Lifetime" holiday campaign.
Brushes with stardom
Four TV ads from Publicis New York, launched earlier this week, feature Citi card users running into their favorite musicians in unlikely scenarios, such as sitting next to Nickelback at a rock concert or encountering Ms. Blige in an elevator. An accompanying print campaign details Citi's ongoing partnership with Live Nation, which has offered card members exclusive access to concerts and events for artists such as Jay-Z, Madonna and the Police.
Two lucky fans who enter the new campaign's accompanying sweepstakes will even win the chance to go on tour with Nickelback for three cities or sit in on a recording session with Ms. Blige.
Peter Moore Smith, global creative director for Publicis,* said the spots go beyond the typical celebrity endorsement, but rather tie into Citi's recurring tagline, "What's your story? We'll help you write it."
"The whole campaign is about Citi cards giving you access to a new definition of success," Mr. Moore Smith said. "There's the story you tell on Monday morning from over the weekend, the story you can tell about last year, about the class you took or the job promotion you got, but then there's the stories you can tell the rest of your life. So we wanted to create a promotion that would have that quality to it -- a representative experience you could tell over and over again."
Stories of its own
Citi also has a few stories to tell its card members in light of the increasingly volatile credit crunch that is already curbing spending at retail. Mr. Moore Smith said the larger economic implications of using a credit card will definitely play a leading role in all of Citi's creative messaging going forward.
"What we've been talking about extensively is how to make sure people understand it's in the best interest of Citi to use their cards judiciously," he said. "The last thing we want people to believe is they can spend a lot of money they don't have. We want to show people where to use our card without using it for no reason."
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Peter Moore Smith as Peter Nicholson, an executive with Deutsch, and incorrectly stated that Citi had acquired WaMu bank.