PayPal parts with top advertising executive after shifting its marketing strategy during the pandemic
  • PayPal's chief creative officer Steve Simpson, its top advertising executive, left the company after about a year.
  • The move came after PayPal shifted its marketing strategy during the coronavirus pandemic, placing less emphasis on the brand and more on catering to small businesses, said a source with direct knowledge of the marketing operation.
  • Simpson's departure followed that of CMO and former Apple executive Allison Johnson in May. Both "decided to leave PayPal" as the company streamlines its global marketing functions, according to a PayPal spokeswoman.
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PayPal's highest-ranking ad executive Steve Simpson left earlier this month after just over a year as part of a restructuring of its global marketing business.

Simpson, who was chief creative officer, was hired to make high-minded ad campaigns to help PayPal stand out from competitors like Square, Stripe, and Apple Pay. But this strategy changed abruptly following the pandemic outbreak and the April promotion of VP of growth marketing Leanne Sheraton, said someone with direct knowledge of the matter who is known to Business Insider but requested anonymity.

PayPal began to place less emphasis on that sort of brand marketing and tried to be more like a bank catering to small businesses. In March it promoted its decision to waive fees for some merchants in the pandemic. In May, CMO Allison Johnson, who hired Simpson, left. 

Simpson, like Johnson, "decided to leave PayPal" as the company streamlines its global marketing functions, according to a PayPal spokeswoman.

Simpson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Simpson is the latest in a string of ad execs to leave PayPal

Prior to joining PayPal, Simpson spent 10 years at WPP ad agency Ogilvy as North American chief creative officer and nearly two decades at Omnicom's Goodby Silverstein and Partners in San Francisco, where he was a partner. 

He has created ad campaigns for brands such as IBM, American Express, HP, and The Gap.

Simpson's and Johnson's departures follow those of several other key PayPal ad leaders, including the company's VP of global brand marketing, director of global brand advertising and creative services, and senior director of brand marketing.

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