To Promote ‘Access Beyond Attendance’ For Live Events, Citi Turns To Virtual Reality

Citi, The Today Show, and pop stars DNCE are teaming up to offer a virtual reality concert experience in real-time and on-demand.

Citibank is promoting its Private Pass live event tickets program on Friday’s Today Show with an appearance by pop group DNCE that mixes virtual reality, real-time, and on-demand technology.

The effort is part of the Citi Concert Series on Today, and it’s specifically meant to highlight Citi Double Cash — and the bank’s ability to expand access to live events both in person and on digital channels.

The new campaign positions Double Cash as “a card that is straightforward, honest and means what it says: double means double.” And, through this event, when Citi says “everyone is in the front row,” the brand has a definition that it believes will resonate with Millennials.

DNCE fans who show up at the NBC morning program’s Rockefeller Center outdoor concert stage will receive an extended “front row view” via Citi branded Google Cardboard VR headsets. The Citi VR headsets have also been distributed already to those viewers who can’t attend the show on Friday, so that wearers can see the 360-degree from any place where there’s an internet connection.

Citi's branded Google VR headset.
Citi’s branded Google VR headset.

Everyone Gets A Front Row View

Citi cardholders with Private Pass access — which allows credit and debit card users to get a jump on ticket purchases for live events — will also be able to experience the show even if they can’t be there in person.

Those who get the headset before Friday will be able to see the VR program produced by IM360 in real-time on their mobile device. The concert appearance will also be livestreamed on Today channels.

“We want to push the boundaries of the very meaning of access beyond attendance and as technology evolves, it’s allowing us to do so,” says Jennifer Breithaupt, Managing Director, Media, Advertising and Global Entertainment, at Citi. “Through incorporating VR into the fan experience, we’re excited to be offering a “front-row” concert event for millions of fans.”

The Citi Double Cash debit and credit card.
The Citi Double Cash debit and credit card.

Banking On Mobile

Citi has long embraced mobile technology and mobile payments. In May, Citi began working with proximity marketing platform Gimbal, which is providing the beacon hardware and software. Citibank plans to expand a test of the Bluetooth devices at as many as 10 branches in Manhattan.

Now, with the VR market growing rapidly — Citi cites Forrester’s prediction that the demand for VR headsets will reach 52 million units by 2020 — this initiative is among the first of its kind for a live concert in VR.

Asked if Citi views VR as a marketing tool or an experiment, Breithaupt told GeoMarketing that this effort is meant to solidify the financial services provider as constantly seeking ways to stay ahead of the way consumers want to experience media.

“As part of Citi’s entertainment program Private Pass, which offers credit and debt cardmembers access to thousands of events annually, we are consistently striving to bring fans closer to the artists they love. As technology evolves, it’s allowing us to push the boundaries of the very meaning of access beyond attendance,” Breithaupt said.

“This is our first VR activation with the Private Pass program but so far, we’ve seen immense engagement from our cardmembers with thousands requesting branded Google Cardboard headsets in advance of the show,” she continued. “We will continue to explore ways we can embed this into other events.”

Aside from the appeal of connecting viewers with a concert and promoting Citi Double Cash card — incidentally, DNCE’s “Mind Blown” track is featured in the new ad campaign — the use of VR as a practical banking feature has potential as a way of connecting bank customers to local branches. For example, VR views could show off new elements that could encourage customers to explore their local branches.

But those ideas are likely to come further down the road, Breithaupt said.

“As this event is part of a more holistic campaign that we’re engaged in for Citi Double Cash, this is focused on that card product,” she said. “But, certainly, we will be assessing different activations where we can promote other products and features that the bank offers across our credit card and retail banking divisions.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.