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Pleo's out-of-home campaign on the London underground

Take your mind back to last year… In September 2021, we released our first-ever out-of-home campaign in East London. Hey, you might have even caught a glimpse of it (or read a rhyme) if you looked out the bus window.

Fast forward to today and we’ve just released our latest out-of-home campaign into the wild. The wild being all of London.

While our 2021 campaign was a small effort – a handful of bus shelters dotted around our East London office – the campaign seemed to resonate with our forward-thinking customers, and help bring in a new batch of businesses ready to shape up their spending. It even helped with our hiring efforts (apparently our CMO saw that campaign and just had to rush off and apply...).

And here we are a few months later, doing it all again – but bigger. 

But why now?

This time around, we opted for a more Pleo admin-centric campaign that speaks to the ever-changing landscape of the world of work. 

We believe we're representing a genuine change in the workforce, and we want to showcase that to passers-by in and around London. Whether you're a financial controller running through tedious admin work, an employee having to file those lengthy expense reports at the end of the month, or maybe you’re patiently waiting for that reimbursement.

We want to showcase there's a better way – a way to make expensing easy and, dare we say it, fun for all involved. Or at least giving you time back to work on the stuff that matters, whatever your day job.

So, we've gone bigger and bolder. You can catch our campaign in and around London right up until the summer season. We’re talking in tube stations, on the side of buses, next to main roads, and on escalator panels. Basically, we're everywhere

Now, for the brand fans. Let's break down the creative process to deliver that campaign (and how I was able to get an illustration of my face to feature in it).

Breaking down the process

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 

There was one major thing we really wanted to nail this year and that was making our adverts sing for Pleo admins, decision-makers, and well, everyone that has to handle areas of business spending, whether that’s someone making a purchase for work or accounting for it later on. 

To make sure we were singing about the right things, we worked hand-in-hand with our product marketing and research teams to dig deep into the everyday pain points CFOs and finance directors face. 

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.

Fun fact: Pleo saves admins 138 hours every year. 

They don't want to — and shouldn't be — chasing receipts and having awkward conversations about reimbursements. This gave us the chance to play around with what these finance professionals could be doing with this time instead. 

Putting pen to paper

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. 

And you guessed it… There’s plenty more where that came from

It’s a real thrill to see this campaign in the wild, and we hope you enjoy it just as much as we did making it.

But we’re not finished there. We’ve got a very exciting year ahead, with plenty of market launches underway — that’s a whole lot of countries (towns) to paint Pleo pink… Stay tuned for even more to come. 

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