Magazine article American Banker

Citi Clues in College Kids on Personal Finance

Magazine article American Banker

Citi Clues in College Kids on Personal Finance

Article excerpt

Citicorp has joined a host of national companies seeking to be "responsible marketers" to college students.

For years, Citibank has been a force in marketing its credit cards to students. Now it is complementing that effort with a consumer education program designed to explain the basics of personal finance.

The nation's largest issuer of bank credit cards distributed "Max Moore, Detective in Moneytown," a radio and newspaper public service program, to more than 600 colleges and universities last fall.

So far, 200 colleges are using the public service announcements.

The program, which continues in the spring, includes a personal-finance booklet available free to college students through an "800" number. Three hundred colleges have placed ads for the pamphlet in their campus newspapers.

"All too often, young people learn how to manage their money by trial and error," said Ruvan Cohen, Citibank's director of marketing for bank cards. "But early financial education can help them; avoid some of the more common financial pitfalls. That's why we developed the |Max Moore' series."

Huge Market

Consumers 18 to 22 years of age purchased $28 billion in goods in services in 1992, Citibank noted..

The campaign features a wise and clever detective, Max Moore, reminiscent of the popular 1940s character Sam Spade.

In a variety of scenarios, Max Moore comes to the aid of students in financial distress and guides them in sound financial management.

"While it educates students about the importance of money management," Mr. Cohen said, "we think the use of comedy makes the message more entertaining, therefore more memorable."

Like Anheuser-Busch Ads

Citibank's campaign is similar to that of Anheuser-Busch urging young people to "think before you drink," said Eric Weil, a principal with Strategic Marketing Communications Inc. of Ridgewood, N.J., which publishes the newsletter Collegiate Trends.

"Their basic goal is to reach the students and enhance the students' perception of Citibank," Mr. Weil said.

This strategy is especially important, he added, because the financial services industry is one of the most competitive in the college market, which encompasses 13.8 million students Credit card marketers increasingly seek to develop customer loyalty at that stage of life. …

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