Citi/AAdvantage sponsors Van Halen concert tour

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After two decades years of offering customers air miles as a reward, the Citi/AAdvantage credit card is now in tune with the music industry.

The Citi/AAdvantage card, which is a joint co-branded credit card from Citi Cards and American Airlines, is the official credit card of the upcoming Van Halen concert tour - the band's first tour with original lead singer David Lee Roth in 22 years.

There is "a growing trend for card marketers to look for these types of exclusive relationships," because they can differentiate a brand in the competitive field of credit card loyalty programs, said Rick Ferguson, editorial director at Colloquy.

Ferguson predicted we will see more credit cards sponsoring major entertainment vehicles in the future - whether it's a Broadway musical, TV program or something else - since these deals also offer these entertainment vehicles new promotional channels and a new revenue source.

"Ten years ago, this type of deal would have been viewed as a sell-out by a band," Ferguson said. "Today, bands see it as another marketing opportunity, and an avenue to reach their audience."

By offering exclusive access to concert events rather than a product or air miles, Citi Cards, New York, is also trying to make the Citi/AAdvantage brand "emotionally appealing to a core group of consumers," Ferguson said.

"[This strategy] is very in line with a trend we see in affluent rewards, which is to sell an experience," he continued.

Some of the unique benefits that the Citi/AAdvantage card is offering to cardholders as a result of the sponsorship include exclusive access to pre-show parties for the Van Halen concert, backstage passes and premium seating.

Citi Cards is most likely targeting a middle-age audience in its prime spending years that grew up with Van Halen in the '80s, Ferguson notes.

"It's a big market," he added.

However, Citi Cards is harnessing the power of music to reach a much broader audience with other efforts.

Last year, Citi/AAdvantage launched a card member-only concert series called Traveling Through Life.

In its first year, the concert series featured Aerosmith, Dave Matthews, Mary J. Blige and Tony Bennett. This year's lineup includes Prince, Christina Aguilera and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds.

Programs like these reflect Citi Cards efforts to expand experiential benefits, according to the company in a statement.

Citi/AAdvantage's campaign is also, in part, an acquisition vehicle for the companies. The campaign encourages Van Halen fans to sign up for the card in exchange for the access it provides.

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