First Citizens Bank


In 1898, First Citizens was born. It was the Bank of Smithfield in eastern North Carolina then. It started with one branch. But over the years, it grew and changed its name.

In 2013, we created a new brand platform for First Citizens. One focused on the values that inform the way First Citizens does banking and – just as importantly – the way customers who are attracted to First Citizens think of their money.

That new platform included new, well, everything. New logo, new look, new television, new radio, new print, new out-of-home, new point-of-sale, new collateral, new this, new that, all the way down to new business cards. It was a head-to-toe makeover.

And all of it was crafted around the new brand line: Forever First.

Which, in a nutshell, means that the things people value about First Citizens will always stay the same: The conservative approach to financial management, the avoidance of fads and gimmicks, the strong focus on customer service, the long-term relationships bankers build with the families and businesses they help.

In our television, we really wanted to put the customers front and center. As they are in the way the bank looks after them. We wanted to shine a light on the kinds of values people who come to First Citizens tend to have: The belief in hard work, planning and saving for the long term, being careful with their money . . . and taking responsibility for it with the help of the right bank and the tools it can bring them.

We produced a series of narrative- and music-based commercials: Mini movies, each telling a single story about a person taking that responsibility for her or his own financial life and showing how First Citizens can help them.

It’s common in the ad (and movie and TV) business to use Southern California as an exterior location for filming, under the premise that the region can look like anywhere. Which is a lie. We really wanted to look like the Carolinas. So we shot these spots all on location in the Carolinas.

Our director across this TV was Jeffrey DeChausse, who has a great eye, a great ear for storytelling, a tremendous wealth of energy and an A-level team supporting him . . . including cinematographer Ross Ross Richardson, art director Martina Buckley and producers Gunnar Clancey, Nathan Haener, Breigh Sutherland and Beth George.

All editing was done by Igor Kovalik. Music usage negotiation was provided by Kathi Strace. And audio work was provided by Russ Fitzpatrick at Ron Rose Milagro.