Category A05. Brand Strategy & Experience
Idea Creation 2 SERVICEPLAN US New York, USA
Production SCHOLAR Los Angeles, USA
Production 2 FORMOSA Santa Monica, USA
Production 3 CORDOVAN MUSIC Los Angeles, USA
Post Production SCHOLAR Los Angeles, USA
Additional Company SAINT ELMO'S Munich, GERMANY
Name Company Position
Alex Schill SERVICEPLAN GROUP Global Chief Creative Officer
Jason Romeyko SERVICEPLAN GROUP Worldwide Executive Creative Officer
Maximlilian Schöngen SERVICEPLAN GROUP Global Creative Strategist
Michael Wilk SERVICEPLAN GROUP Global Head of Art
Kevin Prösel Saint Elmo’s Experiential Managing Director
Stefan Schütte Serviceplan New York CEO
Paul Foulkes Serviceplan New York Art Director/Creative Director
Matt Ashworth Serviceplan New York Writer/Creative Director
Dennis Fritz SERVICEPLAN GERMANY Head of Film
Hendrik Sommerfeld Freelance Motion Designer
Bassel Hallak Freelance Musician
Tatiana Trikoz Freelance Illustrator
Kent Barton Freelance Illustrator
Cam Floyd Freelance Illustrator

Why is this work relevant for Innovation?

Varo is a bank founded for the millions of Americans left behind by those traditional banks. VARO empowers people by giving access to products & services they actually need, and that actually help them. In times of domestic unrest, democracy in upheaval, and an ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor, Varo's new brand campaign was about anchoring the company's purpose and ambition within society as a whole: Varo – The bank for all of us.


If there’s one thing the income divide in America can tell is that the USA are both a nation of haves and have nots. And up to this point, everything about the national banking system has been structured to serve the haves. Annual yields on annuities and CD rates have no relevance to Americans who are struggling paycheck to paycheck to pay the rent and somehow still afford a plumber to come and fix the broken water heater. That is an admittedly grim picture, but it’s also one that creates an enormous opportunity for a bank that approach people and their money in an entirely different way. A bank that tries to cut people slack to help them get a leg up vs. nickle and diming them to death. A bank that’s actually interested helping individuals with the larger goal of lifting entire communities.

Describe the idea

“Democratized Dollars” by VARO showcases financial opportunity and inclusion for everybody. The launch phase of the "A bank for all of us" campaign reimagines money and puts modern American consumers at the very core of the ultimate symbol for money: money. “Money shouldn’t just work for some of us, it should work for all of us” is why we highlighted the diversity inherent in our communities onto the ultimate symbol for money: money. We featured a range of American faces on reimagined $20 bills to show a first but important step for financial inclusion. Doing so Varo signalized support for a extra push to put Harriet Tubman on the $20, too. All media touchpoints democratized the $20 note and associated that cause strongly with the Varo brand.

What were the key dates in the development process?

The debate around the $20 dollar not in the United States was highly discussed. Launching our campaign early 2021 made all PR-relevant news channels aware, that there is a new banking player in town. Since our campaign was up and running at the elections VARO made all Americans aware what they want to become in the near future. And their money, too. A individualized out-of-home & print media-planning plus a ongoing social media activation and push spread our brand message nationwide: “Money should work for all of us”.

Describe the innovation / technology

The campaign highlights the diversity inherent in our communities and features a range of American faces - front and center - on a reimagined $20 bill. State of the art personalized illustrations built a range of motives. The campaign signals Varo's support for a renewed push to put Harriet Tubman on the face of the $20, too. Next to TV-, print-, transit- and out-of-home-media Varo released an Instagram filter enabling anyone to put their face on the currency plus spreading the campaign visual on social media. So a truly innovative use of the most democratic chanel social media. Additionally, the campaign got featured on several hand painted murals activating potential customers in their individual neighborhoods.

Describe the expectations / outcome

The momentum of the "Democratized Dollars" case perfectly reflected the zeitgeist in the USA: a high level of support for the Varo campaign led to high access rates to the website and significantly increased first-time contract signings by 146%. A strong increase in followers of Varos social media channels was also recorded. Halle Hutchison, Chief Brand Officer at Varo puts the result into the right words: “Central to the 'A bank for all of us' campaign are visual and verbal provocations of long-held financial conventions. By questioning the status quo, and asking questions that are hyper-relevant in our culture - right now - the campaign lifts the American consumer into a position of power. The inclusive campaign momentum created high access rates to the website, boost in social media and significantly increased first-time contract signings by 146%.