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How to run an OOH campaign: Lessons from Pleo

Back in June, the Danish fintech Pleo launched "Pleo it" - their latest OOH campaign in London (UK). Following on from the success of their outdoor efforts in 2021, "Pleo it" aimed to speak to CFOs and finance leaders who spend too much time on tedious expense-related admin work. To learn more about the campaign, we reached out to the marketing team at Pleo, and below is what they shared.

Pleo's latest OOH campaign in London, UK
Pleo's latest OOH campaign in London, UK

Inside "Pleo it"

Our mission is to be the go-to spending solution for forward-thinking teams. We want companies of all shapes and sizes to default to Pleo when thinking about invoice management, receipt capture, reimbursements, expense reports – you name it. If it’s to do with company spend, Pleo it.

But even as a leader in the end-to-end business spend game, we’re still a nascent brand in the UK. We saw an uptick in awareness after our first relatively small OOH campaign in 2021, so saw a good opportunity to take Pleo to the Greater London masses.

While the 2021 campaign was targeted toward users and admins at any company – basically anyone who had to buy anything at work – we wanted this campaign to target a more specific audience; admins at mid-market companies.

Why them? Well, after a lot of meticulous research by our fantastic product marketing and research teams, we discovered that a lot of CFOs and finance leaders spend an awful lot of their time chasing receipts, or having awkward reimbursement chats, or manually filling in spreadsheets – the kind of tedious admin they shouldn’t be doing in 2022. And, more importantly, not doing this admin frees up a whole lot of time they can use on the stuff that really matters.

With that said, we of course didn’t want to alienate the people actually using the Pleo cards (end-users, if you will) as they’re the ones who are ultimately responsible for adoption.

And, finally, we wanted to do all this while staying true to our beautiful brand.

Pleo ads
Source: Pleo

Why outdoor marketing

We chose outdoor to get as many eyeballs on us as possible. With a combination of large digital formats, buses, London Underground (escalator panels, back of the tube tunnels, platform sheets), overground rail and digital escalator panels, we knew that this was the best way to do this. The effort was also driven by a strong belief that, due to the pandemic, we’re all starved of IRL experiences and ads you can almost interact with. So, we wanted to dazzle people on the streets – not just their screens.

We did consider going ultra-targeted, perhaps choosing choice POS spots in airports, TfL stations, fancy takeovers etc., but felt that right now, for Pleo as a brand, we would get more bang for our buck by going wide in the city, and bump alongside people of all walks of life on their commute into work. It would also give us more creative freedom even if it meant more constraints – who knew bus sides would be so challenging! And while we’re on buses; what better way to spread the word down every single street in London?


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How the idea about "Pleo it" was born

Like any project, it started with the Brand team staring at a blank Google Doc with the task of ‘finding a concept.’ Easy, right? Sure.

To kick things off (and to avoid that blank Google Doc dread), we defined three possible routes we could go down: Should this advert be rational? A very straightforward approach. Or maybe emotional? A campaign that would make our audience feel something. Or how about a character-led? An advert that encompasses exactly what Pleo sounds and feels like. Or what about a mix of everything.

Lucky for us, we had last year’s campaign to build on. Early on in the process (six weeks in total), we decided to run with our “Pleo it.” tagline. A phrase coined by our very own customers back in the day and something we catch ourselves saying on the daily. What’s cooler than using your own brand name as a verb?

So, we’ve got a loose concept that falls into the ‘rational’ and ‘character-led’ campaign routes. What’s next? Research, research, research and more research to figure out our target audience's key pain points. And one of the biggest and most common pain points we found that CFOs and finance managers face is spending way too much time manually dealing with the ins and outs of business spending.

So, back to the blank Google Doc (and now a blank Figma board too), we started to play around with the copy and design that would each lean into the different locations, formats and dwell times we had.

After many failed ideas (sneak peek: Don’t do them hard. Do them easy. Pleo it.), and debates about whether to full stop or not, it was time for illustration to bring our copy to life.

Pleo animation draft
Source: Pleo

The challenges of building "Pleo it"

We had two big challenges. One was wanting to talk to multiple audiences without alienating anyone – and doing so across multiple formats (which means varying dwell times). We tackled this through close collaboration with our product marketing team to make sure we were on track with the messaging: Were we using the right words? Were we addressing the right pain points? When we had limited space, what were the key messages to get across? And, how can we consider all that without overwhelming someone who will see an ad for 0.7 seconds?

The other challenge was the need to keep our brand front and centre while resonating with an audience that might typically be used to more traditional colours and messaging from other brands in the fintech space. We knew that demographically speaking, our audience might well be more receptive to something that was less blue banking corporate, and more out of the ordinary. It’s a bit of that “more than expected” flavour that’s at the heart of the Pleo brand we have today.

We kept this entire campaign in-house which is something we’re extremely proud of. We easily could have handed it to an agency – which would have done a great job – but in an increasingly competitive fintech field, we were determined to stand out from the crowd and felt that the only way to do this was by using our own team. It added accountability, which in turn gave us the moxie and drive needed to do this well.

It also meant that we could respond quickly to feedback from key stakeholders, and keep our brand and customers top of mind; the entire company has access to feedback from customers, sales calls and reviews which means we’re highly attuned to their needs and wants. This insider knowledge combined with our respect for our brand gave us the ability to work both into the campaign without ever losing sight of the business objectives.


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The results of "Pleo it" so far

We won’t reveal any hard details but suffice to say: we’ve seen very positive early results!

There’s a mix of hard metrics and “dark social” things we’re tracking to consider the ROI of the campaign.

Overall, we wanted to double our un-/prompted awareness, change the perception of Pleo as an evolving product (from cards to all-things spend management), track geo-specific site traffic and understand how the campaign impacts sign ups and demo bookings (which, if you’re interested, you can also do here).

Pleo ad
Source: Pleo

What’s next for Pleo?

The organisational growth we’ve had this year has given us a huge amount of talent and we’re working hard at getting the new faces settled, fully onboarded and giving them the time and space they need to really make an impact, whether that’s in market expansion, product development or brand.

… And what will we all be doing? Well, some things are better-kept mum. We will of course keep experimenting with different advertising channels, both in our core markets and those we’re expanding to and once we’ve got all the results in from this OOH, who knows? Maybe London won’t be the only town we paint pink.


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