Citi Bank’s Live Richly is probably the most persuasive ad campaign in the history of advertising. It hits you so hard on the emotional level that a face to face encounter with a train or a truck could be better and recommended. Not only did I felt that, when running a couple of times through the ads, but also so did millions of American consumers.

The campaign ran from 2001 to 2006 and according to the New York Times it cost the stunning figure of 1 billion dollars ($), which probably makes it the most expensive ad campaign in the world. Nevertheless, as expensive as it was, it brought in return billions of dollars in profits for Citi Bank as people were persuaded into getting equity loans.

What was Citi Bank actually selling?

Citi Bank was selling equity loans. Until the late 1980s, equity loans were considered to be loans of last resort. That means that you would’ve got an equity loan only if your financial situation was in such a mess that you couldn’t fix it by any other means. Not clear enough? Equity loans would have brought you more money, but also a second mortgage on the house. Two mortgages? Who would be insane to want that? Well, millions were extremely persuaded to Live Richly.

How can you get someone to be that irrational?

The guys from Fallon Worldwide (the ad company that took care of the campaign) masterfully played with our head.  By appealing to our inner desires that can be found in our subconscious, they’ve beaten our rational side. And to this they added some super clever strings such as family, joy, happiness. Moreover, they told us that Citi holds the means to our happiness. Extremely appealing, isn’t it? Maggie Shea of Fallon Worldwide said that they wanted to create an “emotional connection that felt fresh, modern, sophisticated and reassuring”.  They focused their attention of “the everyday role of money” (Marketing Campaign Case Studies).


It is often said that a picture is worth 1000 words.  Citi’s Live Richly 10 to 20 words could beat the hell out of an image. Falcon Worldwide succeeded in creating a simple, yet incredibly persuasive ad campaign that used simple plain text to send an unprecedented emotional message that brought billions of dollars in profits for Citi. Now, you should definitely “open a cravings account”!

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“Every now and then, it’s okay to focus on something besides money”