Venmo Marketing Goes Old School in New York

  • Philip Ryan
  • January 7, 2014
  • 0
Photo by @tedp

Photo: @tedp

Venmo may have cutting-edge, person-to-person payments technology, but its latest marketing effort is decidedly old school.

PayPal-owned Venmo closed out 2013 and open 2014 like it was 1999: plastering print ads around New York. The ads feature a young man named Lucas, who is an engineer at Venmo, according to the company.

The ads, which currently can only be seen in New York, have been spotted on the sides of buses, tops of taxis, and, most prominently, in the subway system, as seen here. The campaign was developed and executed by Venmo’s in-house creative team.

Venmo maintains its own office in New York with a satellite office in San Francisco, while parent company PayPal, itself a division of eBay, is based in San Jose, Calif.

Venmo is a mobile money-movement service, and has been a darling of fintech followers since its introduction in 2010. Venmo melds social media messaging with P2P payments and took off in terms of user adoption in 2012. It was acquired by Chicago-based payments gateway Braintree for $26.2 million in August 2012 and Braintree was itself purchased by PayPal in a deal announced last September of around $800 million.

That’s a lot of transitions. Neil Shah, creative director of Venmo, offered the following to Bank Innovation on that topic. “Braintree and Venmo both set out to enable beautiful payment and commerce experiences, particularly on mobile devices. PayPal shares that vision and will help us further accelerate our growth as a separate service within PayPal.  The ‘Lucas uses Venmo’ campaign is just one of example of new ideas we’re exploring.”

The “Lucas” ad campaign stirred comment among Twitter users, some laudatory, some merely confused.

It also prompted this exchange on Quora:

What is the concept for the “Lucas” Venmo campaign? Venmo has been running ads around Brooklyn featuring a person named Lucas “doing things”, like “dancing” and “taking the stairs.” Neither the copy nor Lucus [sic] seem to have anything to do with Venmo or make much sense. What is Venmo’s intention for the campaign?

And the reply:

I imagine they are to invite exactly the type of activity we are doing right here, right now.

The ad campaign appears all over Venmo’s own office as well, which indicates its importance within the company culture. The scale of the campaign is already considerable, and shows confidence in the Venmo brand from PayPal.



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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at

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