PayPal Strikes Blow Against Apple in New Ad Campaign

Slams phone maker over security

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PayPal took a bold marketing move against competitor Apple Pay today, criticizing the mobile payment technology that Apple launched last week.

PayPal took out a full-page ad in The New York Times with copy that read, "We the people want our money safer than our selfies," referencing the backlash from Apple’s recent iCloud hack that pulled naked photos of celebrities.

PayPal also enlisted social yesterday to spread the word about the campaign by posting the image on its Twitter account. PayPal and The New York Times did not respond to a request for comment on the campaign, so it’s unclear if the ad was bought before or after Apple unveiled a slew of new products (including Apple Pay mobile payments) last week.

Regardless, PayPal’s aggressive campaign highlights the growing competition in the mobile payment space as more companies try to strike deals with retailers that incorporate mobile payments into their apps and sites.

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PayPal’s "We The People" campaign is part of a bigger campaign that PayPal launched earlier this year that runs through 2015 around the tagline, "People Rule."

Christina Smedley, vp of global brand and communications at PayPal recently told Adweek that the campaign marks a different marketing direction for the brand compared to the direct response-heavy messaging that some may associate with a payment company.

The campaign is the first time that PayPal has enlisted actual people to be the face of its advertising and also includes out-of-home ads in London, Sydney, San Francisco, New York and Seattle.

"The out-of-home we’ve enjoyed a lot because for us, it was the first time that we had put people who look like you and me and people who live their lives using their smartphones," Smedley said. "Because [out-of-home] exists for a longer period of time, it enables us to deliver quite articulate messages that aide us in developing comprehension."

According to Smedley, the idea is that people already know the PayPal brand, but consumers may not know about all of the company’s offerings. For example, PayPal includes person-to-person payments and integrates credit card points.

"One of the things we’re trying to address and enable people to understand is all the things that PayPal can do for you," she said. "It’s grounded in our belief that we’re enabling people to power the economy—the sign-off sign that you’ll see in a lot of the work is, 'people rule,' which is our reminder that people are at the center of everything that everyone at PayPal does."

PayPal isn’t the only brand touting mobile payments via print ads. Last week, MasterCard also bought a full-page ad in the New York Times last week to promote its involvement with Apple Pay. 

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.