In addition to being one of the world’s leading banks, Citi is also well known for its many sports sponsorships, most notably with the New York Mets and their Citi Field ballpark.
And today, Citi announced its newest partnership agreement with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to become an international partner through 2020 and to support National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) in 18 countries as they prepare for upcoming world and regional championships, as well as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Citi’s relationship with the Paralympic Movement began in 2012 with its sponsorship of the US Olympic and Paralympic Teams. It already serves clients through a local presence in each of these 18 NPC communities, which include Australia, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and the UAE.
“Our partnership with the IPC and 18 NPCs marks Citi’s first-ever global mission-led sponsorship,” Tina Davis, Managing Director, Sponsorships and Marketing at Citi, told brandchannel. “We continue to be amazed by the elite level of performance of these athletes and look forward to supporting them as they compete on the world stage.”
brandchannel spoke with Davis about the importance of sponsorships and Citi’s new partnership with the IPC & NPCs.
What does sponsorship mean to Citi?
Citi’s sponsorship programs are the manifestation of our mission to enable growth and progress. In all of our purposeful partnerships, we engage clients, consumers and colleagues. We aim to activate each of our programs to meet our key objectives—including building our brand, supporting lines of business, engaging and mobilizing our colleagues and demonstrating positive societal impact.
We always evaluate a partnership opportunity against the same KPIs that we measure its success. These KPIs are positive impact on the brand, societal impact, support for our lines of business objectives, client hospitality capabilities and colleague engagement opportunities.
Ultimately, for Citi, sponsorship is about leaving a legacy in the communities we serve and working toward a more prosperous, inclusive society.
Citi is invested in selecting sponsorship partners and properties that can deliver societal impact. When did this become a focus, and why do you think it is so important?
In 2011, we really centralized and defined the function around sponsorships. We view it as our responsibility at Citi, given the size of our footprint both in New York and in cities and communities around the world, to “be the best” when it comes to helping those around us. In business, we do this by rewarding our customers and safeguarding their money while helping to facilitate the growth of their companies—both large and small.
With sponsorship, rather than just slapping our name on something, we look to make a real impact at the local level—whether it’s through our partnership with No Kid Hungry where we donate $2,000 for every Mets home run hit at Citi Field, which is enough for No Kid Hungry to provide 20,000 meals to kids in need—and nearly 6 million meals since 2016. Or it might be the support we give small local business entrepreneurs through our partnerships with Harlem EatUp! and Urbanspace.
We’re extremely excited about our recently announced partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and 18 National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) in communities around the world, as it allows us to expand our purpose-driven approach to sponsorship globally. Our steadfast belief at Citi is that when the communities we serve and operate in succeed, so do we.
Walk us through the exciting partnership with the International Paralympic Committee. How did this idea come about, and how will it be activated across your globe?
It’s an outstanding opportunity to expand our previous support for the Paralympic Movement and reinforce the shared mission of Citi and the IPC to help create a more diverse and inclusive society. Through this relationship with the IPC, Citi will offer our more than 200,000 employees around the world opportunities to engage with and continue to support the Paralympic Movement.
Our first official partnership with the movement came in 2012, when Citi sponsored the US Olympic and Paralympic Teams at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since then, Citi has sponsored eight US Paralympians and featured them in what became some of our highest-performing ads within our campaigns.
In 2018, Citi served as a sponsor of the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship in Australia, World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships in Ireland, Asian Para Games in Indonesia and World Para Powerlifting Americas Championships in Bogota.
We continue to be amazed by the elite level of performance of these athletes and look forward to supporting them as they compete on the world stage. Citi has operations in each of the countries whose NPCs we’ve partnered with, and will engage fans through integrated marketing campaigns and promotions at Citibank branches and other locations in order to raise public awareness of the games, turn our colleagues and consumers into Para sports fans, and help change the conversation around disability.
Can you talk more about your interest in culinary sponsorships, and how that has driven the recent success with Urbanspace?
We looked at what our target consumer base and our colleagues were interested in and found a prominent and widespread interest in culinary. Whether it was cooking, dining out or culinary entertainment, there was a definite “appetite” around food across the enterprise.
At Citi, we’re always looking for new opportunities to help communities thrive and support the growth of small local businesses. There is a unique power in the culinary space to enable real economic progress as well as a significant business opportunity to capture part of the enormous global spend in the category.
That’s why we joined forces with Urbanspace. Its ability to transform public spaces into immersive markets that support small business owners, start-up businesses and communities made the company an ideal partner.
As part of our partnership, we covered the costs for three local culinary entrepreneurs to promote their cuisines and connect with local consumers at pop-up markets throughout the city.
We also have a partnership with Harlem EatUp! to celebrate small businesses that drive Harlem’s culinary richness and with New York’s Food Business Pathways program, a program that supports the growth of food business entrepreneurs across the city.
How do you see the sponsorship landscape changing over the next five years? How will Citi continue to stand out in this market?
Over the next five years, the sponsorship landscape will continue to focus efforts on creating unique “money can’t buy” experiences and fostering an emotional connection with consumers. How that will manifest itself, time will tell. As the sponsorship engagement landscape continues to evolve, so will Citi’s model of engagement and activation.
Who knows? In five years, we could be seeing hologram experiences take over. Virtual reality will be something completely different. How brands show up in sponsorships will be quite different from today. Constructing deals that allow us optimal flexibility to take advantage of the next wave of sponsorship engagement is something Citi is already very focused on and will continue to ramp up.
We also are exploring performance-based measurement—a trend that’s evolving right now. We plan to integrate this type of measurement to stay at the forefront of thinking about how sponsorships can drive business results.
Get more insights in our Q&A series.