Banking Startup Dave Taps Ex-Airbnb Marketing Exec


Longtime marketing executive Jonathan Mildenhall has taken the top marketing job at Dave Inc., a 3-year-old banking startup that focuses on customers who don’t have long histories interacting with financial institutions, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday (Oct. 1).

“This is building a product that literally can go up against some of the prejudices and biases of the traditional banking system,” Mildenhall said of Dave, the WSJ reported. “I have a history of working with big, splashy brands. I want Dave to be the biggest, splashiest, most aspirational and accessible fintech brand in the U.S.”

Dave was one of Mildenhall’s clients at TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, a consultancy Mildenhall founded in 2018 after leaving Uber, BusinessInsider reported in July 2019. The consultant firm focuses on helping companies sharpen their senses of purpose.

“There was a need for a type of consultancy that could use brand strategy not just as a foundation for a company’s advertising, but for building purpose that unites all the employees, shareholders and the communities it serves,” Mildenhall said at the time, per BusinessInsider. “That strategic development of a brand is the stuff I can do better than pretty much anybody.”

The executive previously held marketing roles at Airbnb and Coca-Cola.

Mildenhall said Dave's 2021 marketing budget will be $100 million, the Journal reported.

“When I got to Airbnb the total marketing budget was just $25 million,” he said. “This is fintech, and marketing budgets are vast. We really have to work hard to ensure that every dollar we invest on Dave feels like it’s 10 times bigger, so we can compete.”

Dave's marketing tagline is that it offers "banking for humans.” According to the firm’s website, Dave has 7 million members.

Mildenhall is joining Dave during a period of upheaval in the banking sector as customers accelerate their shift to digital transactions and some financial institutions shutter brick-and-mortar branches.

Dave’s former marketing director, Jordan Gladstone, will stay with the bank and report to Mildenhall, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mildenhall said he’ll still spend one day a week working at TwentyFirstCenturyBrand with customers other than Dave, the Journal reported.



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