Chime's new CMO wants to build the industry's best marketing machine
Vineet Mehra joined Chime as the challenger bank’s chief marketing officer at the end of May.
Mehra, who previously was the chief growth and customer experience officer at Good Egg, will be tasked with leading the neobank’s marketing strategy, taking over a role once held by Melissa Alvarado.
Alvarado will continue to serve as a member of Chime’s executive team, the company said in a press release.
“This is not a turnaround. This is not a reset of everything. It's about connecting the ingredients,” Mehra said of his role at Chime. “My focus is taking something from great to even greater.”
As a growing number of neobanks continue to vie for a share of the consumer banking space, Chime boasts an aggressive marketing budget. The company, launched in 2012 by CEO Chris Britt and Chief Technology Officer Ryan King, spent $32 million on TV advertisements during the first eight months of 2019 — $48 million on an annualized basis, according to Forbes.
Prior to joining Good Egg, Mehra was global chief customer officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, as well as global chief marketing officer at Ancestry. Mehra also served as global president of Johnson & Johnson’s baby care division and global president of the company’s marketing function.
Mehra spoke with Banking Dive about maintaining Chime’s growth trajectory, the fintech’s multiyear jersey sponsorship deal with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and his plans to turn the neobank into “the best marketing machine in the industry.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
BANKING DIVE: What made you take on this new role?
VINEET MEHRA: I’ve always been fascinated by this combination of mission and category disruption. As a first-generation immigrant, someone who really had to learn financial literacy and well-being on my own, Chime’s mission around helping everyday people achieve peace of mind was something that I immediately resonated with. I remember times in my life where I wish I had this kind of a tool and platform to take care of my own financials.
Chime is a very successful company. I go into these kinds of roles where there already has been success, and, frankly, the first thing I'm looking at is, what's in the recipe? What are the ingredients in this recipe that are really powerful?
I think the special sauce here at this company that has blown me away is the member obsession. And that starts with the great products that Chime has built over the last few years to really meet the needs of members.
It's really unbelievable how much the community engages with this brand, and if you go to any incumbent or competitor in our space, you just won't see that community engagement.
How can Chime differentiate itself from the growing number of digital banks that are entering the market?
MEHRA: Chime is a business with strong unit economics, which is already very well-developed at scale. And it's based entirely on a transaction revenue model that is free to members. So the business has cracked a fee-based model that doesn't hit members, but it's a transactions-based revenue model.
You only really earn those strong unit economics with the trust that we have in our members, and that trust is shown because members give us their primary account capacity, specifically direct deposit and paycheck. That puts us at the top of the wallet and gives us a high degree of recurring transaction activity.
Chime signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with the Dallas Mavericks in 2020. How would you describe Chime’s sports marketing strategy?
MEHRA: I think what's really special about our Mavericks partnership is the community engagement that we do. We have the jersey patch, which was especially special during the Mavs’ deep run in the playoffs this year. But more than that, the Mavs organization has a deeply values-aligned culture, similar to Chime. The kind of work they do in that Dallas community — and more broadly as part of the NBA Cares program — is pretty special.
For me, sports marketing is great as long as it goes beyond slapping on a logo to also driving community and member engagement. … When you go to our social accounts, some of those tweets about the Mavericks — who are not just a Dallas team, but they have a huge following across the country — are some of our most engaged posts on social media.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge in this role?
MEHRA: The challenge that I see at Chime is very similar to ones I faced in the past and very similar to one that faces [the marketing] industry. … How do we take Chime from having lots of great pieces, which I'm very humbled and very honored to lead, and connect all of this into a full-stack modern marketing machine? It's a rallying cry that I call performance storytelling.
How do we turn Chime into a true performance storytelling machine that blends creativity of the brand world and the analytics of the performance marketing and direct response world, and put that all together and turn Chime into the best marketing machine in the industry? That's a really exciting challenge and one I've handled before. I know we can do that here, as well.