In 2014, we launched the new Citi Double Cash card with creative work that clearly communicated a new benefit in the cash back card category: 1% cash back on purchases, another 1% cash back as you pay for them. While other cards encourage people to spend, spend, spend in order to see rewards, Citi wanted to reward people for more than just spending. A cash back card that rewarded people on bill pay was a way to encourage responsible financial behavior and give them rewards for something other than spending money they didn't have. In 2015, we built upon this launch work with a refreshed pool of work with the same creative strategy.
By the end of 2015, the ground had shifted a bit—the Citi Double Cash card was no longer new news, and competitors who have been in market for years continue to outperform the relatively new Double Cash card in both marketing spend and business metrics.
For 2016, we tasked ourselves with developing a new campaign to build upon the success of the card since it's launch. We set out to create a new, emotionally based value proposition for Double Cash—based not just on product features but also on brand ethos.
We knew our target was wary of hoops and red tape when it comes to cash back rewards, and they often feel anxious and confused when trying to figure out what all the numbers really mean —APR, accelerators, and percentages always seem to have fine print.
Their depth of skepticism meant that they distrusted everything. We believed that our value proposition of "1 percent plus 1 percent" was both simple and straightforward, but we discovered that people were so wary of credit card offers that they thought, "there must be a catch."
We saw this notion of "there must be a catch" as an opportunity to relieve a pain point. We would be the forthright antidote to the category conventions of fine print, gotchas, and red tape and we could do it in a way that felt more human.
Our big idea: A "give it to me straight" position that serves as an antidote to the category. We would be the hero that could be 100% straightforward and honest because when we say double cash back, we really mean it.
We used humor based on our insights and narrative storytelling to bridge the gap between the stories Banks tell and our consumers' reality. In short, we created a world where people say what they mean and mean what they say. In every channel and through every piece of communication, we leaned into this idea.
In TV, we had the opportunity to set the tone for the campaign. We brought to life some of the most common situations where people don't normally tell it like it is and revealed what a better world it would be if they did.
In digital, we chose to work with content partners to appeal more directly to consumers online. We developed sponsorships around common pain points for people who wish the internet actually meant what it said—like sponsoring 30-Minute Meals that ACTUALLY take 30 minutes and DIY Hacks that ACTUALLY work.
We chose to use social to appeal to our leading-edge consumers. Through social listening we tapped into existing conversations around how people don't mean what they say when they use the word #literally online. We focused on creating sharable content, creating cinemagraphs that helped bring to life common phrases we say, but sometimes don't literally mean.
We partnered with the NBC Today show to offer fans of the band DNCE, the experience of seeing the show from the front row. In fact, we were so serious about meaning what we said, that we developed a custom Google Cardboard 360-degree VR experience that gave fans the feeling that they were in the front row of the concert.
We experimented with channels that were new for our audience. We used aerial advertising to show thousands of beach-goers that double really means double by flying double the planes with double the messages.