Venmo Wants to Turn Its Brand Into a Verb

Google, Instagram and Netflix all have one thing in common: They are brands that have become so synonymous with the industries that they specialize in that they’ve become verbs.

PayPal’s Venmo wants in on that space too and it’s launching a campaign called “Blank Me” today that puts a fun twist on its peer-to-peer payment services that lets people send money to each other.

Each piece of creative features a sentence with a verb missing that leaves users to fill in the blank like a game of Mad Libs. Some of the lines are intentionally suggestive: There’s “Let’s not make it awkward, just ___ me,” and “If you ___ the wrong person tonight, you’ll regret it in the morning,” for example.

The ads are appearing in bars, restaurants and college towns in markets like Chicago, Miami, Nashville and Dallas—all places where people may need to send money to their friends while out and about. The campaign also includes digital ad buys across Tinder, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter.

According to Venmo marketing director Kasia Leyden, the campaign “embodies the spirit of Venmo and celebrates Venmo’s verb status and place in the zeitgeist.”

Why its hot:

  • By strategically placing their adds in college towns, bars and restaurants, they are not only advertising where people need to transfer money between friends but also where they can stir conversation about the advertisement.
  • Venmo intentionally made the fill-in-the-blank open to interpretation, which encourages people to make the ad their own. By getting people involved and talking about these “Blank Me” ads they are also recalling the information.


Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes for VR Tour of Puerto Rico

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Rachel Franklin—who leads the social network’s virtual reality work—livestreamed a 360-degree video from the top of a building on Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., campus to show the damage in Puerto Rico from the recent hurricanes.

The two called the video a “magical tour” and used the company’s five-month-old Facebook Spaces VR app that turns users into cartoon characters. As Zuckerberg and Franklin talked, footage of the devastated area captured by NPR ran in the background.

Immediate criticism on social media called Zuckerberg’s clip tone-deaf and accused him of “exploiting disaster” by promoting Facebook’s VR initiatives.

Zuckerberg later apologized, saying that his intentions for using VR were not clear initially.

“One of the most powerful features of VR is empathy,” he commented on the video. “My goal here was to show how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world. I also wanted to share the news of our partnership with the Red Cross to help with the recovery. Reading some of the comments, I realize this wasn’t clear, and I’m sorry to anyone this offended.”

Why it’s not hot:

  • Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s use of VR to show the devestation in Puerto Rico came off as tone-deaf and self-serving.
  • Although they were announcing a partnership with Red Cross, using it to plug their new VR capabilities made the partnership seem less empathetic and authentic.
  • When natural disasters occur, brands need to be aware of the sensitivity of the situation and take into account the emotional reality those effected are facing.



Google’s New Pixel Earphones Translate 40 Languages

On Wednesday, Google unveiled the Pixel Buds, a $159 pair of wireless earbuds designed to work with its new Pixel 2 smartphones.

pixel buds

The coolest part of the Pixel Buds is the ability to use them as a universal translator. It’s like something out of “Star Trek” — at its November launch, you’ll be able to use the Pixel Buds to have a conversation across 40 languages. It’s actually a feature of the existing Google Translate app. To get started, just load it up on your Pixel 2 phone. From there, choose the language you understand, and the language you need to translate. An introductory message pops up on the screen once you begin: It basically explains to the other person that you’re using an app, and how it works.

google translate pixel buds pixel 2

Why its hot:

  • The Pixel Buds use Google Translate which is an already popular and trusted translation platform, and add another level of accessibility.
  • There are headphones with similar technology that already exist, however, they operate on a much smaller scale. The Pixel Buds offer a wide range of languages so it can be used across the world.