Inside Citi’s ‘Stand for Progress’ Olympics push

With the Rio Olympics around the corner, big brands like Citi are gearing up their marketing blitzes. Citi changed its sponsorship messaging from “every step of the way” to “stand for progress” in order to inspire people to “set goals alongside America’s elite athletes.”

Tina Davis, managing director of global sponsorships and marketing for Citi, explained that this is because the national “Every Step of the Way” campaign that the bank first rolled out for the London Games in 2012 and then continued during the Sochi Olympic Winter Games in 2014 didn’t have enough of a tie to the brand.

“I think people need to understand why Citi is a Team USA sponsor,” said Davis. “We like what the Olympics stands for: progress, community and inclusiveness. And at Citi, enabling progress and growth is our business. So this year, we want to enable the overall positioning of ‘progress’ and highlight this empowerment of our program.”

The national campaign features five Olympians, including Gabby Douglas and Nathan Adrian, as well as three Paralympians like Rudy Garcia-Tolson.

The “Stand for Progress” campaign — developed in collaboration with agencies Publicis, Finsbury and Cohn & Wolfe — will come to life across TV commercials, pre-roll ads on YouTube, videos on Vine, promoted posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as in-branch posters and signage on ATMs. Citi will also be rolling out Team USA wrapped Citi Bikes in Miami and New York City this week.

“What we’ve done this year is, for each medium, we have customized content. For example, instead of trimming a 30-second TV commercial into a 15-second pre-roll, we created videos from scratch,” said Davis.

The U.S. Olympic Committee changed the Rule 40 guidelines for the first time this year to let non-Olympic sponsors run ads starring Olympic athletes during the games. Citi has pushed the endorsement deals even further via the banking category exclusive partnership with NBC, so it’s the only bank that viewers will be seeing on the channel during the Olympics programming.

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