Daily Insights

PayPal Puts Health First

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | Feb 05, 2021

PayPal pairs up with Neil Patrick Harris to demonstrate touch-free shopping in the pandemic era.

The ad takes an interesting angle—literallly—as the viewer gets up close and personal with Harris recording himself on a solo trip to CVS, likely without the help of a crew due to the pandemic. As such, viewers either bump along with Harris as he attempts to keep his phone steady and stock up on the essentials or catch glimpses of him through the lens of the CVS security cameras, stopping to remind viewers of the importance of hand-washing, social-distancing, mask-wearing, and of course paying via QR code on the Venmo or PayPal app.

This angle lends a sort of clandestine, yet personal, and highly humorous feeling to the ad as it shows the celebrity doing everyday things in an everyday environment. For example, the shot of him cart-racing through the frozen food aisle may resonate with viewers whose only thrill has been trips to the grocery store. Similarly, a clip of him trying to stuff dozens of vitamin C gummies in his mouth might cause viewers to smile knowingly, as pandemic paranoia became inevitable for all. Finally, viewers get a chance to see Harris, whose own family contracted COVID-19 early on,  actually don a mask—something that the slew of big-time Super Bowl ads all avoided. The conversation continues online, as Harris asks his 26.1 million Twitter followers to share any other ways they are shopping safely in-store. Tweeters can use #ThankQRC and #Contest for a chance to score a surprise payment from Neil into their PayPal or Venmo account.

In additon to these relatable details, the fact that shoppers are beginning to choose digital over physical payment for in-store shopping more and more could translate into good reception for PayPal’s ad. By weaving education in with humor, consumers are also more likely to watch through the entire ad, according to Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Big Box. Finally, joining forces with a health hub like CVS could also fare well for PayPal, which purchased Venmo years before the pandemic struck, as it could level up consumer’s view of the brand as a practical tool for present day and not just a symbol of the future.