Venmo has a new creative campaign, but if you like it, don’t rave about it — just _______ them.
That’s how the FinTech’s new creative content is structured. It’s called the “Blank Me” campaign. According to Venmo’s Head of Marketing, Kasia Leyden, the idea is to put users’ stories front and center, making the money transfer company the only brand that can fill the blank in whatever occasion they’re sharing.
“The Southern hospitality is free. Just _______ for everything else,” reads the side of a bus in Nashville.
“Let’s not make it awkward. Just _______ me,” says a coaster at a nameless bar.
The spirit of Venmo is to celebrate moments, memories and funny stories between friends, Kasia Leyden said — and the company believes that the friends you Venmo are your true friends, the ones you actually hang out with, comprising a much smaller group than your connections on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Celebrating moments and memories hits a friction point, however, when money comes up. Nothing kills a good dinner conversation like having to split a bill eight ways. The mission of Venmo is to remove that awkward moment and let friends get on with being friends. The fact that it comes with a social feed only reinforces that: Users are leveraging it to pay for everything from rent to beers.
Venmo has established such a niche in millennial culture that, somewhere along the way, it organically rooted itself into their vernacular as a verb, the same way that people now use “Google it” or “Facebook me” as verbs. Leyden can’t put her finger on when exactly that happened, but more than 100 percent growth each quarter might have something to do with it.
What’s crazy about that growth, Leyden said, is that it’s mostly referrals. People aren’t just finding Venmo randomly or responding to ad campaigns (and that’s not what the company is expecting out of this campaign, either). Friends are telling friends; employees are telling coworkers; kids are telling parents. Leyden believes the greatest period of growth is still ahead and is still organic, as the platform reaches more people over time and generations.
So, if the campaign isn’t about attracting new customers, then what’s the point?
The company is referring to it as a creative campaign rather than an ad campaign, and that’s deliberate. Leyden says it’s all about driving brand relevance and continuing the conversation and momentum around Venmo as “THE” social commerce app by drawing out a variety of use cases.
The campaign is rooted around entertainment, sports, food and drink and college subcultures: all the places where consumers are already using, loving and sharing Venmo. “Blank Me” is not about selling the product, said Leyden, but about reinforcing the role it fulfills in users’ lives.
Venmo can afford to launch a creative campaign as opposed to an advertising one, since its parent is PayPal, the original online peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfer platform that also enjoys widespread adoption across the internet in retail environments.
According to Josh Criscoe, communications manager for Venmo, PayPal sees the FinTech as an investment in the future of money transfers, with some potential for monetization down the line if merchants start to adopt it as a payment method (and users are apparently asking for this).
Yet even without monetization, the platform has proven to have tremendous value as a free P2P service, boasting millions and millions of users across the U.S. The average user checks in a few times a week, with heavy users logging in multiple times a day, Leyden said — sometimes for activities as small as just sending a penny and a note to a friend.
Kind of brings a whole new meaning to “Penny for your thoughts.”
Although, if you’re looking for a millennial’s thoughts, you may be better off offering to _______ them.