To Support Women in Music, Citi Debuted the #SeeHerHearHer Movement

The brand took over the Today Show on International Women's Day

Maren Morris will mentor female musicians as part of Citi's #seeherhearher initiative. Citi
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Citi, fresh off a self-published report on its own double-digit pay gap, wants to inject some female empowerment into the beleaguered music business.

The financial services giant on Friday debuted #SeeHerHearHer as a way “to create a groundswell” of support for women in music, says Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer CMO.

The company, during an hour-long takeover of the Today show, said it will include female musicians, artists and technicians in its talent search for its ad campaigns, with special attention to its television spots. It also handed out $5,000 grants to 10 emerging female artists and announced a mentor program with Grammy winner Maren Morris that will expand to include other industry mavens.

Citi’s branded content on the NBC morning show, on International Women’s Day, included a live performance from Morris and mini-documentaries on women who’ve shattered the glass ceiling (among them an all-female New York Fire Department division).

Breithaupt, noting a recent study from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that found female performers and artists are “vastly outnumbered” by men on pop charts, said Citi wants to nudge other marketers to follow its lead.

The exec spoke to Adweek about the origins of #SeeHerHearHer, Citi’s internal efforts to champion women and its upcoming spring ad campaign (with music from two under-the-radar female artists).

Adweek: Why does #SeeHerHearHer make sense for Citi?

Jennifer Breithaupt: We’ve already been part of the ANA’s SeeHer movement, which was launched a few years ago to get rid of unconscious bias in advertising, but we thought we could do more. And no one had put a stake in the ground yet and specifically addressed gender bias in music. We think this is the right place for us to be, leaning in heavily on equality in an industry that desperately needs it.

Will other brands be involved?

Yes, we’re definitely not going this alone. I’ll meet with the ANA and encourage them to be part of the movement. I already teased this initiative at a conference where I was on a panel with Marc Pritchard from P&G, and he raised his hand right away. I expect other brands will, too. And the companies will decide what they want to do exactly, but the ask is for them to create a balance in their work. We want them to make a commitment to showcase female musicians and artists, songwriters, producers, engineers—really, women at every level of the process. We think we can get brands to join forces with us by 2020 and create a groundswell. We don’t want to be the only owners of this movement. We’re just leading the charge.

How does #SeeHerHearHer fit into your broader marketing platform?

Music has been a large part of our overall brand DNA for years, and it’s a way for us to connect on an emotional level with our consumers around the world. We’re providing access to 8,000 music events this year, and that scale put us in a position to have unique and different conversations and to take a stand. We’ve benefited from the music business, and we want to take our scale and enable progress and influence positive change. It’s a continuation of our journey in music.

How did the Today show takeover happen?

We’ve had a long relationship with NBC for summer concerts, which grew to be all year long. There are about 100 shows a year now under the Citi Concert Series banner. I had the idea (to debut #SeeHerHearHer) and I met with the network at CES to talk about it. I knew it couldn’t just be a 10-minute spot on the show. If it’s truly going to be a movement, not just a moment, we needed to take over an hour.

How does this relate to Citi’s pledge to put more women in senior management roles and the recent company study that found female employees globally earned 29 percent less than their male counterparts?

It coincides with what we’re doing internally. We’ve been the first financial services company to release pay equity reviews, comparing compensation for men and women in a historically male-dominated field. We’ve recognized that we haven’t closed the gap, and we know that equality starts at home. We’re cleaning up our own house and doing a lot to attract, recruit and retain female talent across the board. Diversity and inclusion are part of our scorecards. And we’re drawing attention to this same issue in a consumer facing way with #SeeHerHearHer.

What can you tell us about your upcoming ads?

There are two brand spots, not product specific, and we shot them in L.A. One is based on our ProCamps, where kids get to play with famous athletes. And the other is about music. Both the spots have music in them from female artists who’ve never done commercials before. One performer hasn’t really had any exposure outside of Europe. And from the music we chose to the rest of the creative, we put the #SeeHerHearHer lens on it. It’s a big and powerful campaign.

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.