Above: When banks become bikes, meet the Citi Bike
How do brands add to the collaborative economy, if they don’t offer physical goods? They sponsor the sharing movement.
Meet Citi Bike, in NY. I’ve learned from my NY based colleague Rebecca Lieb (Marketing and Advertising analyst) that CitiGroup, one of the world’s largest brands, is sponsoring the countries largest bike sharing program, in the America’s largest city. That’s right, the sustainability trend for bike access to New York citizens and visitors is rolling out in the next few days, with prominent sponsorship and funding from Citibank.
This program models after the Barclay’s card sponsorship of bikesharing in London, a trend that is starting to sweep cities across the globe. Cleverly dubbed a “Citi Bike” this blue unisex bike will have 6,000 bikes and 330 docking stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn and will grow to 10,000+. Now this is all moving ad units, in the financial center of the world. The data derived from these bikes and digital checkins and web and mobile features will leave the system with rich data at a local level, digital marketers should be drooling.
There’s a number of brands that are jumping into the collaborative economy space (see index), either by converting their products to a service, fostering a community around them of reselling, but also sponsoring. Altimeter will be publishing a report on the collaboarive economy, next week, in conjuction with my keynote speech at LeWeb. The collaborative economy isn’t just about saving the world through sustainable consumer practices, but also about the brands and corporations who want to be associated with it.
The bottom line: Branding and sponsorship is just the start, expect to see new models emerge, even for financial services companies.