What happened: We positioned PayPal as the Japanese entrepreneur’s guiding light and prepared them to be the digital payment leader in the region.

Why it was fun: We got to explore a culture that was not our own.

Skills: competitive analysis, brand auditing, forecasting, cultural insight, strategic thinking, tactics, positioning, primary research, secondary research

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What is PayPal? A digital payment services provider

How? Through software, online infrastructure, and merchant services

To? Create opportunity with financial services, democratize financial services for the world, empower people and businesses to thrive in a global economy, and bring about financial health

Why? Because financial opportunity and accessibility allow beneficial ideas and resources to flow.

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To understand Japan we surveyed and interviewed over 23 people who live in, work with, and love Japan. Our interviewees told us a number of things that informed how we positioned PayPal:

You’re right, women and men are delaying marriage in favor of their careers. Their sentiment toward company loyalty has weakened but is still quite strong.
— State Department Employee (personal opinion)
With an influx of millennials — in terms of the workplace — fewer people prefer staying at a company for life.
— Edward, born and raised in Japan

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I think we got to the heart of it: integrating the tradition and conservatism the Japanese are comfortable with in PayPal.
— Sally; Director, Global Wholesale, established communication services provider, works in Japan

A New Name

We gave PayPal a new moniker for the Japanese market based on the recommendation of an anthropologist who spent years in Japan. He let us know that the Japanese translation of PayPal, “Pei Paru,” translates to “Heroin Pals” and other, less savory things.

We chose PayDawn for three reasons:

  1. No drugs

  2. Dawn pays homage to Japan’s national identity as “the land of the rising sun”

  3. Dawn evokes the image of a new era for entrepreneurs in Japan


New Mascot Competition & Anime Partnership

In Japan there is a concept called kawaii, or cuteness culture, and an abiding love for mascots, called yuru-kyara. There are mascots for everything in Japan: businesses, cities, regions, tv shows, etc.

Our new mascot competition gives students the chance to pitch a mascot to PayPal and exposes themselves to entrepreneurship. The winner of our mascot contest will see their creation come to life in a minor story arc of the hugely popular manga and anime series My Hero Academia.

Get a mascot! Everything from the train to boat tours to cities have cute mascots …Animated movies like Minions with characters like these are incredibly popular in Japan.
— Emma; Junior Show Writer, Universal Studios Japan
Embed PayPal into TV dramas and manga, show fictional characters using PayPal as a matter of course with no issues.
— Jeff; lived in Japan for several years, wife is Japanese

Brand Partnership: Nintendo & PayPal


We’re integrating PayPal and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise by giving player’s a chance to find real money in-game. For a limited time when players are digging in Animal Crossing to plant trees they might find a treasure chest with a redeemable code for ¥1700 (~$15) credited to a PayPal account of their choice.

IRL, we’re creating Animal Crossing themed PayPal co-working spaces for Japanese entrepreneurs. The abundant kawaii (cuteness) and brand recognition of Animal Crossing will make them an exciting place for young Japanese professionals. Resources like supplies, programs, entrepreneurial coaching, learning materials, and fun kawaii things to customize workspaces will be available for co-working members.

Coffee costs a lot of money [in Japan]...the shops are selling a [atmospheric] place to sit, not coffee.
— Dr. Chris Loy, Anthropology, Christopher Newport University

Created with:
Creative Brand Manager: Shayla Johnson
Strategist: Emily Brown
Strategist: Aaron Lee