Close this search box.


Elevation Awards case study: How Iris Worldwide won Gold for ‘Best product launch campaign’ for ‘ShopSafe’ for PayPal

The pandemic had an unprecedented impact on retail. People’s hesitance to physical payments saw businesses around the world, big and small, shutter their doors. 

As a global leader in payments, PayPal was committed to bringing confidence back to main street for shoppers and sellers alike.

But with very little presence in the physical world, how could they solve the world’s biggest retail problem? The answer was to start with something small.

Centered around the iconic QR-code, ‘ShopSafe’ launched PayPal’s new innovative touch-free payments to the nation. 

Iris Worldwide’s vibrant campaign brought that feel-good feeling back to shopping, championing the confidence that comes with touch-free payments while celebrating the small businesses they were committed to helping. 

It took over neighborhoods across the country, changing the way people buy and the way businesses sell. Every ad was a direct link to sign-up. With a quick scan, potential buyers and sellers were set up and using PayPal touch-free payments in seconds. 

From barber shops to dog groomers, street food vendors to cafes, and corner shops to national chains, that’s how one little code reinvented payments and ultimately gave everyone the confidence to Shop safe.

About the client company 

Located in San Jose, California, PayPal was founded in 1998. The service allows anyone to pay in any way they prefer, including through credit cards, bank accounts, PayPal Smart Connect or account balances, without sharing financial information. 

PayPal has quickly become a global leader in online payment solutions with more than 325 million accounts worldwide. Available in 202 countries and 25 currencies around the world, PayPal enables global ecommerce by making payments possible across different locations, currencies, and languages. 

PayPal has received more than 20 awards for excellence from the internet industry and the business community – most recently the 2006 Webby Award for Best Financial Services Site and the 2006 Webby People’s Voice Award for Best Financial Services Site.

Strategy – broader business issues the company faced

As the biggest player in online payments, with millions of active accounts, PayPal had little presence in the physical world. When the pandemic broke out, PayPal had an opportunity to be more than just an e-commerce platform. Being stuck inside during Covid-19 made people see the value in the little things – the warmth of a morning coffee, the joy of a good haircut, or the friendly greeting at your local grocery store. However, consumers were struggling to balance their unease about paying in-person with their desire to get back to their daily lives. By making transactions safe, PayPal wasn’t just offering a safe way to pay. They were promising a reconnection to all of the little things people found joy in, and helping bring some normalcy back to the uncertain and scary new world. 

Objectives of the campaign 

In H2 2020, PayPal launched a new method of contactless payments via personal QR Code. It utilizes the existing PayPal app and makes transactions completely touch-free. Small businesses displayed a QR code at checkout and consumers could scan it and pay through their PayPal account. PayPal’s ambition was to launch this nationwide to help small businesses get back on their feet. 

The target audience 

PayPal was committed to help small business owners nationwide who took the biggest hit during the pandemic and faced foreclosure. As a B2B2C campaign, we also targeted everyday individuals living in urban areas across the country. 

Media, channels or techniques used 

During phase one, every virtual and print ad was a direct link to sign-up. With a quick scan, potential buyers and sellers were set up and using PayPal touch-free payments in seconds. Iris Worldwide ran variety of messaging focused for small businesses, that helped moved people down the marketing funnel and used bigger formats (Radio + streaming audio, OOH, digital and social video, addressable TV) to deliver a broad awareness message that PayPal’s QRCs are a safe way for your customers to pay.

In phase two, Iris Worldwide introduced consumer messaging alongside our existing small businesses focused work. They used three businesses reflective of the audience’s daily rituals (a barista, a barber and a pet groomer) and brought them to life by showing the merchant interacting with the QR code in a fun way. The vibrant campaign brought that feel-good sensation back to shopping, championing the confidence that comes with touch-free payments while celebrating the small businesses Iris Worldwide were committed to helping. It took over neighborhoods across the country, changing the way people buy and the way businesses sell. 

Timescales of the campaign

  • The campaign was developed in early 2020, and ran through the whole year and into Q1 of 2021, with a few bonus OOH units.
  • Research and planning took place during H2 of 2020, when Covid-19 was at its peak, and PayPal launched a brand new payment method.
  • Phase one ran in late Q3/Q4 of 2020 and phase 2 ran in 2021.
  • Report Analysis wrapped up at Q2 in 2021. 


PayPal QRC’s drove $20bn in-store payment volume. Not only that, but there was a halo effect to online payments – thanks to the Shop Safe campaign – with a 19% increase of payment volume from existing PayPal customers who started using QR codes. In other words, PayPal’s payment option increased online transactions as in-person transactions kept climbing. In fact, 86% of the media spend on PayPal’s QRC campaign was covered by the increase of online transactions alone! PayPal also added a record 73 million net new active accounts in 2020, that’s more than double what they had predicted for the year. 

“I have been at PayPal for two years now and in that time, I have had the great pleasure of working with the team at Iris. What really resonated with me as we kept our conversations about this project was how collaborative the Iris team was and how they rolled up your sleeves – and are in it with us. And that has really proved out, in what has been a very intense project, which was launching PayPal as an in-store solution during Covid. it was a very fast paced project, the brief moved and evolved a little bit during the project and the team was very nimble and always optimistic and positive despite accelerated timelines and deliverables that we needed to hit, and really continue to support us – challenge us appropriately – and really help us to deliver a great and end-result in the market”

Jill Cress, VP global brand, PayPal

Want to access more case studies from B2B Marketing’s awards programme?

Check out Propolis, our exclusive community for B2B marketers to share insights, learn from industry leading marketers, and access our best content. You’ll find even more in-depth, detailed case studies from award-winning campaigns and learn from the best to be the best.

Check out Propolis now!

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on your website. Read more about cookies policy.