Venmo Strives to Maintain Market Share by Putting Ponies in New Ads

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Venmo uses ponies in its new campaign.
Venmo uses ponies in its new campaign. Credit: Venmo

Peer-to-peer payment service Venmo, which recently reached Urban Dictionary status as a verb, wants consumers to quit haggling over sharing a bill and "pony up." To that end, the PayPal-owned company is unveiling a quirky ad campaign that includes national TV spots this week.

A 30-second spot shows friends arguing over splitting a Happy Hour bill, before one suggests ponying up with Venmo. The brand uses actual ponies in various bill-sharing scenarios before one actor proclaims, "The world is ours for the splitting." The ad will appear on national networks including MTV and Comedy Central in 30-and 15-second versions, while a 60-second clip will run on Venmo's social channels.

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"This is our opportunity to drive awareness and to showcase our personality," said Kasia Leyden, who joined Venmo a year ago as marketing director. "It came together in a really clear way as a rallying cry against those awkward moments of having to ask someone to pay you back."

She noted that the campaign is primarily aimed at millennials, the demographic that already is Venmo's primary user. Previously, Venmo ran a 2014 viral campaign that included some subway placements, but the majority of its marketing has been through word-of-mouth.

The company, which processes more than $1 billion in monthly payments, is boosting its marketing at a time when the competition is catching up. Though Venmo has the distinction of being one of the first of its kind to market, and recognizable enough to be used as a verb, its popularity has attracted the attention of larger rivals. Next month, a group of banks including JP Morgan Chase are rolling out their own person-to-person payment service, which will be called Zelle, according to reports.

In addition to the TV spots, Venmo's two-month-long campaign will include some out-of-home advertising as well as activations in key social hubs such as Chicago, Portland, Ore., Nashville and Austin. Venmo's first Snapchat filter will go live on Sept. 19.

Venmo worked with Austin-based Preacher on creative. Noble People handled media while Edelman took care of PR. Last year, Paypal spent $75 million on measured media in the U.S. for all its entities, including Venmo, according to Kantar Media. The company has spent nearly as much, or $72.5 million, year-to-date, according to Kantar.

Next year, Venmo is expected to incorporate in-store payments to its offerings so consumers can use the service to buy items in stores.

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