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    Citgo to Spotlight Local Character, Contributions in New Campaign

    Oil company begins series of roundtable meetings to roll out 2009 marketing program.

    HOUSTON -- Citgo Petroleum Corp., based here, will roll out its 2009 marketing plan in a series of "Roundtable Meetings" being held in 18 cities during January and February.

    The company will present a package of initiatives and programs that it said will allow the oil company to enhance its partnership with local marketers and provide greater opportunities for successful operations at the more than 7,000 locally owned and operated CITGO gasoline stations in the U.S.

    "The CITGO brand is a powerful and valuable asset and one which relies upon the hard work and dedication of the local jobbers -- the men and women throughout America who are the face of CITGO in their own communities," said Gustavo Velásquez, Citgo vice president of supply and marketing.

    Citgo is owned by PDV America Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

    To fortify a strong foundation of awareness and convey core brand messaging, a multi-platform advertising campaign will launch in March. The campaign will consist of a combination of media vehicles from network television to billboards to Internet ads.

    Called "The Neighborhood," the new campaign puts the spotlight on real CITGO marketers and retailers who are providing local jobs, fueling the local economy, doing good and giving back to their communities. The campaign takes viewers from Key West and Corpus Christi to Salisbury and Charlotte on a virtual road trip through several one-of-a-kind American towns, highlighting the distinctive quirks and charms that make them special.

    In 2009, CITGO will tap into the power of social computing by connecting and collaborating with consumers on a topic relevant to everyone -- helping those in need. Through a new Web site going live in May, consumers will be invited to post descriptions and needs for their favorite charitable activities, explaining how they benefit the community and whom it helps. Visitors to the site vote on the cause of their choice, and winners will be awarded free gas and an expanded Web site profile on what they are doing for their community. The online promotion will run for three months starting just prior to Memorial Day.

    For 2009, CITGO is implementing what it calls the Quarterly Growth Incentive Program to reward marketers for growing with the CITGO brand. This program is an addition to existing incentive programs such as CITGO Grow Bucks.

    Another new brand program is the update and refresh to the CITGO street image. The company recently selected a firm to assist in designing an evolution of the current brand look. A team of marketers, marketing sales force and CITGO brand development staff are working with the firm to develop the new design. Unveiling is scheduled for later this year with the new image roll-out expected to appear at CITGO locations early next year.

    There also is a newly revamped mystery shop program now dubbed the Image Impact Initiative. The program has broadened the instant rewards for a "Gold" store rating to include the store manager in addition to the sales associates who already receive CITGO Gift Cards on the spot. Winning store managers will receive awards cards that enable them to shop online for appealing prizes. Another change in the program is a more extensive questionnaire that weighs various attributes according to their importance in gaining and retaining customer loyalty.

    In the payment card arena, the new year starts out with the rollout of the redesigned suite of cards that debuted in the latter part of 2008. On the leaderboard for 2009 is the rollout of the CITGO Business Select tiered-rebate program, designed to entice both new and existing customers to continually increase their gallon volume, and CITGO Plus programs that focus on location-based solicitation.

    Citgo is also working with its customers to assist them in becoming PCI compliant. Marketers who are working to get ahead of the game are already availing themselves of PCI consultations with Citgo payment card personnel in order to get on the PCI DSS bandwagon prior to the deadline for compliance of July 10, 2010.

    "We know that our success is intrinsically tied to the success of our marketers and retailers," said Alan Flagg, general manager of light oils marketing. "That’s why we spend a lot of time talking and listening to them. They are the ones who make it happen on the street every day, and so their input and ideas are invaluable to our marketing model."

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