HOLLYWOOD: Citibank, the financial services giant, has seen a significant improvement in its brand image and preference scores as a result of its involvement in New York's public bike-sharing initiative.

The firm's sponsorship of this service, operating under the name Citi Bike, was intended to help enhance its performance in New York – the company's home and the source of around a fifth of its consumer revenue.

Elyssa Gray, Citigroup's director/head of creative and marketing in North America, told delegates at the 2014 ANA Brand Masters Conference – an event organised by the Association of National Advertisers – that it had made a major impact in the Big Apple.

Over three-quarters of the service's members – now numbering almost 100,000 people, a total 12 times higher than was initially estimated – were able to directly associate the cycling package with the bank just three months after it launched.

That has vindicated the positioning that Gray and her team pushed for, which could be summed up in the phrase: "It's about the bike, not about the bank." (For more, including detailed results for Citibank's brand, read Warc's exclusive report: Citibank rides Citi Bike sponsorship back into consumers' good will.)

"We wanted to make sure people understood our commitment to New York. This is our hometown and we love New York," Gray said.

"We wanted people to understand that and to know that we were bringing them something that they ultimately would value."

Brand preference scores among this group are also up by more than a fifth, with equally favourable results being delivered on impression and image ratings.

Achieving such a goal was especially important in New York, as the company was previously "not bouncing back" to the level it desired after the financial crisis in the city when compared with several other areas.

"We had some ambitious goals," Gray revealed. "But our brand health was very low."

Data sourced from Warc