By 1970, dozens of U.S. banks had jumped on the ATM bandwagon. To introduce this new machine to consumers, banks used all kinds of advertising tricks. For example, to get the attention of female customers, a bank in Columbus, Ohio, sponsored a six-hour Paul Newman movie marathon on a local television channel. Every 25 minutes during the movies, commercials for the bank touted the advantages of its new cash-dispensing machine.
However, it took a corporate gamble and a blizzard for the ATM to win the confidence of American consumers. In 1977, the chairman of Citibank took a huge risk, spending more than $100 million to install ATMs all over New York City. That investment paid off the following January when a huge blizzard hit New York, dumping 17 inches of snow on the city. Banks were closed for days; meanwhile, ATM use increased by 20 percent. Within days, Citibank had launched its by-now-familiar “The Citi Never Sleeps” ad campaign. Posters and billboards showed customers trudging through snow to get to Citibank ATMs.
After that, almost every one of the country’s banks followed Citi’s lead. The era of the ATM was underway.