Citi strengthens global presence with International Paralympics sponsorship

The move could provide more opportunities for emotionally-charged campaigns

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Citi International Paralympic Committee Partnership Announcement
Citi International Paralympic Committee Partnership Announcement Credit: Citi

Citi is switching up its Olympics strategy. The financial giant will no longer sponsor the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, but has instead entered into a partnership with the International Paralympic Committee through 2020 in 18 countries.

"These athletes have overcome adversity to achieve the world's most elite level of sporting excellence," said Citi CEO Michael Corbat in a statement. "Their strength, perseverance and determination is truly what makes them exceptional."

While there's no creative around the new sponsorship yet, the bank is expected to time new marketing campaigns and promotions to the 2020 games and qualifying events in 2019. The brand, which had sponsored the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams in 2012 and 2016, works with Publicis.

The move could help further Citi's global reach and provide the brand more flexibility with creative storytelling, according to Ben Sturner, CEO and founder of Leverage Agency, a sports and entertainment marketing firm.

"This could potentially be more meaningful for them—with the creative they could have a more emotional connection," says Sturner, noting that it's easy to get lost in the crowded mix of U.S. Olympic team sponsors.

Indeed, if there's one theme that's coming out of 2018 in marketing, it's that consumers want brands to take value-conscious stands and to have more meaningful conversations with their customers. A recent study by Accenture of nearly 30,000 global shoppers—including more than 2,000 based in the U.S.—found that 62 percent of consumers want companies to take a stand on social, cultural, environmental and political issues. The same percentage told Accenture their purchasing consideration is driven by a brand's ethical values and authenticity, according to the report.

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