Q&A with Phil, Creative Lead at TransferWise
We’re a really results-driven creative team. While we’re proud of the adverts we put out from a creative point of view, the real satisfaction comes from seeing the thousands of people that sign up to TransferWise after seeing them. Knowing that we’re helping all of these people to save money is so rewarding, and watching those numbers grow month on month is testament to our focus on understanding why certain ads are effective. Or, as is more often the case, why certain ads aren’t effective!
Why did you join TransferWise?
So it all started back in 2013. I was lucky enough to be spending a year abroad in Paris as part of my degree, but being the fool that I was, I paid my first month’s rent through my UK bank. My French wasn’t perfect at that point, but I remember my landlady saying something like, ‘Philippe, you still owe me €50.’ Yup, just like TransferWise’s, this story started with the pain of losing money to hidden bank charges. I looked for a better way of doing it, and that’s when I came across TransferWise. It was love at first transfer.
I ended up recommending it to loads of my friends, and I think I must have flagged up on the TransferWise systems as either some kind of criminal or just a very keen customer because they got in touch to investigate those referrals. I can confirm I was the latter, and once that was cleared up, they asked me to become a Campus Ambassador when I went back to university for my final year. Essentially that meant I got double the reward for referring people. At this point, I went from a very keen customer to an awkwardly keen customer. I remember wearing a TransferWise t-shirt to an event organised by the university’s international society, hoping to bump into some people needing money transfers. I know, I went too far.
Soon after that, I got an email from TransferWise looking for customers to be involved in one of their marketing stunts. I think you know where this is going. Marching around London as a skeleton, that’s when I met the Creative & Buzz team for the first time. Either they were happy to see such an enthusiastic customer, or they were just being kind, but the next thing I know I’m on YouTube telling the world how much I love TransferWise. As you can imagine, that went down particularly well with my friends back at uni. [It’s still on YouTube. Here’s Phil as a fresh-faced student, love from the TransferWise team #sorrynotsorry]
Long story slightly shorter, I was getting to the end of my degree and sending off applications for basically any TransferWise job I saw going up on the website. In an alternate universe, there’s probably a Phil working in our PR team, but in this one, it was the Creative team that gave me a chance. I started as an intern, and have been fortunate enough to grow with the company, from Assistant Creative Producer to Creative Producer, to now having led the creative team in London for the past two years.
In a nutshell, what do you do at TransferWise?
We have something really important to tell the world – you can save lots of money using TransferWise. The problem is that money transfers aren’t the most exciting thing in the world, are they? I mean, we’re competing with dogs, babies and Chewbacca masks out there. It’s our job on the Creative & Buzz team to make people stop scrolling. We let our imaginations run wild, thinking up crazy stories and metaphors to bring our marketing messages to life.
As an in-house creative team, we are across the whole creative process. We work with marketing and product teams to uncover relevant insights, use those to inform our strategies, come up with the ideas, turn those ideas into adverts and then analyse their effectiveness, which then feeds back into our insights.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
Launching the TransferWise debit Mastercard across the world. It was really exciting to see the company innovate beyond the money transfer product we started out with. Creatively, it also offered something different; the reasons why someone would want to use the product were different, which are always interesting to explore. It was a genuine privilege to lead on the creative side of the launch, and thankfully, we ended up producing one of the most effective creatives we’ve ever run.
What’s your biggest challenge working here?
I’d say my biggest challenge has been the imposter syndrome a lot of us can face in our careers. It was a huge learning curve to grow from an intern to leading the team within my first 2 years. You’re surrounded by such talented, ambitious people all the time, and I often put this pressure on myself to keep up, which can be a little scary at times. But the culture here is empowering, and the people are really supportive. If I could go back and talk to intern Phil, I’d just let him know that’s it’s totally fine to feel a bit out of your depth, if anything that just means that you’re learning, which is a good thing!
Most interesting place you’ve used your TransferWise debit Mastercard?
On holiday in Sri Lanka last year. Funnily enough, one of the B&B hosts we were staying with there asked if we could transfer the money to him beforehand, as otherwise he’d get charged higher fees. I saw his account details and realised it was a TransferWise account. It’s been crazy seeing TransferWise grow since I’ve been here; I bump into customers all the time now, even in Sri Lanka.
What’s your team’s fun tradition?
We have a weird attachment to Nando’s, which for those outside of the UK is a super trendy restaurant that serves Michelin-star-quality chicken. Whenever we have something to celebrate like someone’s birthday or getting a big project over the line we normally end up in there. We’re a classy bunch.
What does working with freedom and autonomy mean to you?
Unlike many creative teams, we get to write our own briefs. It’s empowering to have that control and helps us to implement all the things we learn more quickly.
Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your lead and why?
Luckily, we don’t fundamentally disagree on most things, but we do have some good debates. What I like is that there’s respect both ways – at the end of the day, we know that we’re both trying to help TransferWise customers, it’s never a case of acting out of self-interest. And it’s healthy to have these disagreements; we can learn from each other.
Tell us about something extraordinary that you’ve done?
I’ve run a marathon! It was 4 and a half hours of absolute misery, but now I have a lifetime of having something impressive to pull out in interviews like these.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at TransferWise?
Ultimately the more cost-efficient we can be with our creatives, the quicker we can lower prices for our customers and achieve our mission. That’s led to yours truly filling as an actor on a few shoots. The craziest, or should I say weirdest, has to be a time I dunked some toast into a fried egg, which had been placed on a man’s head. I could try to give you the context, but I’m not sure that helps!
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