Western Union Taps Jimmy Kimmel for Mother's Day Push

Tonight's Show Features a Paid Skit From the Money-Transferring Brand

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Western Union's Facebook ad to promote the skit.
Western Union's Facebook ad to promote the skit.

Western Union is tapping Jimmy Kimmel to create content about its money-transferring service for a Mother's Day push. The paid skit, set to be featured in tonight's episode of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," is meant to show how easy it is to send money to mom with Western Union's mobile app and fast, convenient service.

Mother's Day is a major occasion for the financial brand as people send cash to their moms from around the world.

"We're focusing on sending the gift of cash to mom," said Laston Charriez, senior VP-marketing for the Americas at Western Union."'Jimmy Kimmel Live' serves the purpose of getting rich content to consumers in a different way. ... It's about surprising our consumers about the way that they can send money anywhere at anytime and pick it up all over the world."

The company, which does not have full-creative control over the show's segment, is entrusting the late-night host with its brand. In addition to the 90-second skit, Western Union is sponsoring this week's show and will be featured in bumper ads throughout the week. Gravity Media worked on the campaign.

Laston Charriez, Senior VP-Marketing, Americas, Western Union
Laston Charriez, Senior VP-Marketing, Americas, Western Union

The push aims to grab the late-night show's younger, "hipper" audience in a unique and engaging way, said Mr. Charriez. "We want to make our consumers pay attention."

Last week, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" attracted 831,000 viewers -- a five-week high -- and was the week's most-watched late-night broadcast talk show among adults ages 18 to 34, according to Nielsen data analyzed by TV by the Numbers. The show also has a huge online following: "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is one of the Top 100 most-viewed channels on YouTube with more than 2 billion views.

The late-night show has recently drawn in an array of marketers looking to make a splash. Aflac enlisted Mr. Kimmel to create speed-related skits promoting its "One Day Pay" initiative in February, and Old Navy recruited the comedian for a segment pushing its flip-flop vending machine last year.

Western Union leveraged another big entertainment property last spring when it partnered with 20th Century Fox's "RIo 2." Fox Studios created four commercials for the financial firm featuring the movie's characters in order to connect with families and Hispanics, in particular. "We proved with "Rio 2" that this was a great way to connect with consumers," said Mr. Charriez.

The new effort is against the backdrop of burgeoning competition on the retail side from a cheap money-transfer service introduced by Walmart last year and backed by rival MoneyGram. The competition is chipping away at Western Union's domestic money transfer business where revenue fell 4% during the fourth quarter despite a 1% increase in transactions, according to a company conference call. Consumer-to-consumer revenue in North America comprises 18% of the company's total earnings, according to a statement.

To maintain its competitive advantage, Western Union is focusing on improving its services and differentiating its approach to consumers with content-driven pushes like the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" skit.

"Competitors will always do things," said Mr. Charriez. "As the leader of the category, we need to set the pace of making money transfers easy, secure and fast."

Western Union spent $39.8 million on U.S. measured-media in 2014, up from $16.6 million in 2010, according to Kantar Media. The company spends about 4% of its revenue on marketing and advertising, it said on a company conference call.

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