On 7 February, the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in the Super Bowl, the final of the American National Football League’s (NFL) championship. The game was played in the San Francisco Bay Area, a short drive away from the PayPal headquarters in San Jose. It attracted 76,000 spectators and reached a TV audience of 111.9 million making it the third most watched programme in US history.
PayPal was one of the 60 companies to advertise during the game. A 30-second commercial is reported to cost $4.5 million, according to Forbes.
The ad is called “There’s a new money in town”. The narrative states that “Old money is these people” while pictures display portraits of historic figures illustrated on US and Canadian currencies. It continues with “New money is all people” with a sequence showing people of both genders and diverse ethnic origins. Of the 60 broadcasted ads, PayPal’s is ranked 53rd.
If we are to believe PayPal, “old money is stuck in the past”. However, in June 2015, when Treasury Secretary Lew announced plans to redesign US currency and feature a woman on the $10 note, it triggered a huge debate across the country, about who would be selected. The Treasury received over a million responses and they were not all on paper. The campaign went viral. One campaign group “Women on 20s” organised an online election; over a period of 10 weeks, more than 600,000 people cast votes and Harriet Tubman emerged as the winner to be the new face on the $20 bill. The Treasury website introducing the new notes is called Modern Money.
As for being stuck in the past, one member of the “Women on 20s team” is Sofia: a 9-year-old 4th grader who last year was inspired to write to President Obama after she realized that there were not enough women represented on currency. Her handwritten letter, including a list of suggested candidates and accompanying sketches, moved the President in such a way that he publicly stated that he thought putting more women on our money was “a pretty good idea”.
Also in 2015, the Bank of England asked the public to nominate artists to be featured on the next £20 note. It received over 30,000 suggestions covering 590 different artists. The Bank announced last week that it had chosen J. M. W. Turner and his painting ‘The Fighting Temeraire’.
PayPal has got it all wrong. By portraying Harriet Tubman and William Turner cash is – more than ever – young and vibrant.
By Guillaume Lepecq