To grow usage and downloads of their mobile app, Bank of America needed to increase digital payment transactions. Our objective was to get people to download Bank of America’s mobile banking app, now part of Zelle’s payment network, and use it to pay back friends and family.
Money between friends can strain and even end relationships.
Unpaid debt is awkward for everyone involved. Whether it’s the uncomfortable feeling of asking for money owed, or the guilt over living with outstanding debt, it’s a scenario everyone wants to avoid. But when faced with it, avoiding the awkwardness altogether – and often each other – is what most friends end up doing.
Sadly, it’s a rampant problem - our research showed more than half of Americans (53%) have ended a relationship over debt. More than one-third of people who lend money (35%) don’t ever think they’ll see their money again and nearly one-quarter (24%) of borrowers even admit they’ve never paid back their debts.
With that insight, we wanted to end the tension between friends over money.
Our strategy was to help people do what’s right and pay back their friends.
Bank of America’s app, now a part of Zelle’s payment network, makes it easy to send and request money or split a bill with almost anyone, no matter where they bank. However, mobile payment technology is not new. To increase digital payment transactions and tackle the challenge of growing app usage and downloads, features alone wouldn’t be enough.
We created the “Friends Again” campaign that showed how settling debts with friends and family is easy using Bank of America’s app. To motivate people to pay up, we reached them with recognizable stories and we created a call to action for friends to ask for and pay back money owed to break the norm of avoidance due to awkwardness.
Since strain in relationships over money is such a common issue that the majority of Americans have experienced personally, we took the opportunity to make Friends Again into a really big moment and connect it with a large audience. Through a massive cross-media campaign launch, we gave people positive motivation to resolve money owed between friends. With social at the heart of our campaign, we met friends in their feeds to create a cultural moment that removed the discomfort of settling up.
Our simple message “Pay them back. Be friends again.” showed how Bank of America could help people pay old debts to improve their relationships in no time.
We invented “Pay Back a Friend Day” on October 17th, 2017: a national holiday where everyone could reconnect with old friends and settle their debts.
We celebrated Pay Back a Friend Day by unleashing stories about how resolving debt restores friendships. We debuted our call to action with original content and integrations in high profile TV, including shows like Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live. We created local groundswells using popular radio DJs across the country, sharing personal stories of owing money and the ease of using Bank of America’s mobile banking app. We took over social feeds by tapping celebrities and social media influencers to share “pay back” stories and encourage others to do the same, including Josh Peck, Aidy Bryant, Lamorne Morris, and more.
Twitter became the home for Friends Again, where we harnessed thousands of conversations around reconnecting friends, and for 24 hours, the brand reacted, responded and ignited real-time conversations with real people.
Bank of America’s CMO promoted the day by partnering with relationship expert Dr. Melanie Mills on a cross-country press tour. Announcements across TV, social, digital, Bank of America owned channels and via influencers built momentum and anticipation.
Throughout the entire Friends Again campaign, we shared relatable pay back stories broadly across TV, streaming video, digital, and social media. We leveraged owned channels, including Bank of America ATM screens and targeted emails, to invite customers to use the Bank of America app to resolve old debts.