Citibank Pairs with Elton John for EZ Checking Promos in New York

Citibank has combined its marketing muscle and a worldwide partnership with Elton John to embark on a direct response promotion designed to draw middle market checking customers.

“We have seen a great increase in call volume and we are trying to cull through the data to see just effective the spots are in getting the right customer,” said Brian Flynn, director of marketing and communications for the bank's North America Consumer Bank division.

The bank is trying to attract middle market customers, a term the company defines based on income levels and a propensity to use remote banking. The targeted customer is usually “open to consolidation and more technologically inclined,” Flynn said.

The 8-week promotion, which encourages viewers to call its 800 number, provides the bank's EZ Checking service to customers, a no-fee, low balance service that requires a combined balance of $1,500 from savings, checking, credit bard balances or mortgages, Flynn said. The service also includes 10 free checks, five non-Citibank ATM transactions and PC banking.

The current offer includes an opportunity to win tickets to see an Elton John concert in May and $25 for signing up for EZ Checking as well as direct deposit simultaneously. Flynn said the company is considering tying in Elton John ticket offers will be tied into other promotions.

Citibank, which regularly deploys direct response in its promotional mix, broke the 30- and 60-second spots on broadcast and cable in New York. Depending on the effectiveness of the commercials, the banking conglomerate will decide whether to expand advertising to its other four markets. “We broke in New York and potentially, depending on how effective it is, we will roll it out to Washington, Chicago, then Florida and California,” he said.

Flynn said the company is using three different measurement tools to determine effectiveness – total call volume, conversion to leads and conversion to sales. “We also want to see how what it means in terms of awareness. Is it in fact making Citibank distinctive?”

The company kicked off the promotion in the New York market to coincide with a private Elton John concert at Avery Fisher Hall in May. The concert is meant to celebrate the award-winning musician's year long partnership with Citibank that was announced in January. As part of a wide-ranging agreement, which spans all industry categories, Citibank is the title and sole sponsor of John's 65 city 1998 “The Big Picture Tour.”

“We used a creative template and said let's put the EZ Checking in there,” Flynn said. The spots were created by agency of record Young & Rubicam in conjunction with its direct agency, Wunderman Cato Johnson. Flynn said the bank's in-house call centers are handling call volume.

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