N26 pursues US market with ads that speak to customer pain points

New York City commuters this week will have their first exposure to European banking brand N26 through ads posted on subway cars. The Berlin-based company launched its mobile banking product to U.S. customers this summer, and it’s using a traditional ad campaign  — on subways, taxis and buses — to build brand recognition among U.S. consumers. The ads will roll out in Chicago and San Francisco in mid-September.

N26 ad

The ads focus on the aspects of banking, which N26 discovered through user research, that are top of mind for its target consumers: speed of signup, no-fee transparency, security, peace-of-mind through activity notifications and early payday deposits.

The tagline, “mobile banking the world loves,” is based on replicating the brand’s success in Europe and playing on many consumers’ dissatisfaction with their banking institutions, said Marie Le, U.S. head of marketing at N26. “A lot of the things that you see [in the ads] have been informed by user research at the very beginning,” she added. “Love is a core part of that campaign. We wanted to leverage our successes in Europe, [and] there’s an opportunity for us to build an ongoing relationship with our customers.”

Building a brand through traditional advertising is a playbook employed by many large fintech startups, including TransferWise, SoFi and BBVA-owned digital banking brand Simple — all of which have ran ads on the New York City subway. For tech startups, subways are seen as a cost-effective way to reach a broad swath of the population that’s essentially captive. “It’s become a rite of passage for startups and tech companies in New York,” Jennifer Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of Policygenius, told Bloomberg. “You’ve made it when you’ve got your subway ads.”

Asked about its choice of cities for the ad campaign, Le stressed that N26’s focus is across the U.S., but the ad campaign is zeroing in on areas where the brand will likely have more resonance: urban populations that are likely to be receptive to a banking product from a tech company. “It’s really important for us to be on the East Coast, [the Midwest] and the West Coast. We also wanted to consider where there is a demographic with a high usage of technology.”

N26’s U.S. ad strategy was conceived in-house, but the visuals were done in collaboration with ad agency DiNoto.