Valuation of bike share sponsorship is not simple. The medium has been unique to the point of frustration for several cities seeking program sponsors. There is the advertising element–simply getting a brand in front of many sets of eyes; then there is the association with a progressive, sustainable, and healthy means of transport; and lastly, there is the media and press coverage the system offers a company. Putting a price on all that good stuff isn’t easy; however, it’s undoubtedly worth a hefty investment.
In the case of Citi Bank, it was worth $41 million. But has the sponsorship started to meet Citigroup’s initial goals for the investment? Simply put: Yes.
“So far, everything is pointing in an extremely positive direction, more than I would have expected,” said Elyssa Gray, head of creative for North America marketing at Citi. “The way that the city has embraced the program is truly remarkable.”
According to Gray, Citi got involved with the bike-share program because the bank felt that the program was consistent with what the Citi brand stands for: progress and helping people achieve goals.
“Citi’s home base is here in New York, and we want to make sure that people who live in New York City feel the value that Citi is bringing to this community of ours through this green initiative,” she said.
The sponsorship was not without its risks. Citi Bike was controversial at its launch, with many predicting it would fail to catch on with apathetic New Yorkers or, worse, result in a spate of deaths from wobbly cyclists mowed down by impatient drivers. You can imagine a brand would not want to be associated with such problems.
“We looked at what the city is doing and what other cities with bike sharing have done, and we are comfortable that the city is taking the proper steps to make a safe program,” said Andrew Brent, director of public affairs at Citi.
As of now, there are 330 docking stations in Manhattan and some parts of Brooklyn and about 6,000 bikes serving as useful, functional outdoor advertising for Citi, and the plan is to expand to 600 stations and 10,000 bikes. As Gray explained, the bikes themselves are ad space, along with the bike home screens, and the ads at docking stations are tailored to fit the New York City neighborhoods they are in.
There are, undoubtedly, risks associated with such an investment. But, as the article goes on to explain, it is also clear that Citigroup is very pleased with their sponsorship of the system and will be looking for other ways to engage the public with the program and their brand in the future.