July 2nd, 2013 | Chris Lloyd

CitiBike: One Million Marketing Miles in One Month


The CitiBank sponsored NYC bike sharing system, “CitiBike”, has hit one million miles traveled in its first month.

The program features thousands of bikes docked at hundreds of kiosks around NYC and can be rented by anyone over 16 at any time.

While the ridership has been frequent (it doesn’t hurt that NYC celebs have gone for a spin or two on the bikes, either), not every New Yorker is a fan of the project. Some are frustrated by the influx of rookie riders to the busy New York streets, the lack of a requirement for insurance or a helmet, and the impact the marketing tools has on traditional bike rental shops. One twitter user even wrote “So with this CitiBike program people pay for the chance to ride CitiBank advertising around the city?”

Yet despite these negative opinions, the overall project is being applauded as a huge success both for the health of the city and as a “perfect marketing campaign”.

Not a new concept, but an interesting proposition: A company sponsoring a public works project in exchange for advertising. When you think about it, stadiums do this all the time. But what happens when it transitions to a bridge, or a school, or a park?

To put this into perspective, think about what it would mean if Safeco footed a large part of the bill for the 520-Bridge in exchange for billboards? Tricky proposition when deferring costs at the expense of cultural fabric. It all comes down to the appropriateness of the partnership.

A few things to consider:
How much good does it do? How involved is the sponsorship and are the audiences right for each other?

For example, would Pepsi sponsoring a school work? Due to the research that high-sugar drinks can induce large health risks for the youth of America, probably not.

But when you match the right pieces together, such as reducing a carbon footprint at the expense of a branded bicycle, it can form an exciting relationship that affects positive change.

And with that, everyone can win.


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