For its 200-year anniversary, the global banking firm Citi wanted to launch a one-of-a-kind ad campaign that had never been done before.

The company approached The Wall Street Journal to develop a wide-reaching, cross-platform programme that would position them as an innovator and industry thought-leading company on a global scale.

The Wall Street Journal was selected because it delivers the broad constituency that Citi wanted to reach on all platforms: C-suite executives, thought leaders, influential investors, government officials, affluent consumers, small business owners, and financial advisers.

The yearlong interactive programme was designed to reach the highly engaged cross-platform audience — the ideal audience for Citi. 

The Wall Street Journal, WSJ. Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal Digital Network (WSJDN) partnered with Citi and a third-party expert (The Urban Land Institute) to create an integrated reader engagement programme that honoured the most innovative cities around the globe. That programme would culminate with one city being named the “City of the Year.”

Citi was also one of the sponsors of the WSJ. Magazine’s 2012 “Innovator of the Year” platform, honouring seven of the most Innovative people in the world, selected by the editors of WSJ. Magazine.

Execution of this programme targeted the print, digital, and mobile space in the following ways:

  • Print ads featuring custom content and digital components announced the programme and highlighted the most innovative elements of 200 selected cities in total.

  • The Urban Land Institute selected the 200 cities based on criteria, including culture, economy, environment, education, mobility, and progress.
  • Content was housed on a WSJDN created a microsite where users could join the conversation and cast their vote for the city they deemed most innovative and leading the way of the future. 

The year-long programme was broken out into four phases:  

  • Phase 1: Top 200 cities announced and polls opened.

  • Phase 2: Reader votes tallied from Phase 1 and the top 25 cities are announced.

  • Phase 3: Reader votes tallied from Phase 2 and the top three cities are announced.

  • Phase 4: Final WSJ. Magazine print ad will announce the “City of the Year” winner.

An ongoing series of custom print advertisements in WSJ. Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and highly engaging creative digital executions on drove traffic and increased awareness of the “City of the Year” programme.

Social sharing tools helped the campaign go viral across Twitter and Facebook, enhancing the power and reach of the programme. Mayors of the top-25 cities received notes promoting the programme and requesting they leverage their own social media means to promote their cities and the programme.

The 360-degree programme culminated with a series of events produced by The Wall Street Journal in the top three finalist cities (New York, Tel Aviv, and Medellin). Each of the events boasted 150+ attendees, including local dignitaries, political leaders, media, and business executives.  

The Wall Street Journal’s fully integrated “City of the Year” programme proved successful for Citi’s advertising objectives, producing high engagement and interactivity with the premium Journal audience while promoting Citi’s 200-year anniversary and innovation platform.

In March, Medellin was named the winner, based on the more than 980,000 online votes cast during the campaign.