If you want to talk about timeliness and relevance in bank marketing, you’re going to have to include an anecdote about how Wells Fargo organized pop-up stores in San Francisco – and used the Wells Fargo social media streams – to promote the launch of Apple Pay.

On October 20, Apple released an iOS update that included Apple Pay, the much-anticipated mobile payment service that many, including this Inc. article, say may “change the world of payments.” With Apple Pay, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users utilize near field communication (NFC) to pay for purchases with their phones… and without the traditional card swipe. Instead, consumers authorize transactions with Apple’s Passbook and fingerprint sensor. According to Inc., 220,000 merchant locations and over 500 financial institutions were prepared to support Apple Pay on its launch date.

If being at the forefront of the digital wallet seems like a leap for a financial services brand steeped in tradition, you’d be wrong. In fact, Wells Fargo used language in its Apple Pay pitches that conveyed the historic quality of this technology. “Today is the dawn of a new way to pay,” reads the copy within an image the brand tweeted on October 20.

Wells Fargo uses social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

In addition, Wells Fargo’s promotion of its participation in Apple Pay was very 21st century – relying on social media and pop-up stores to tap into the buzz surrounding the launch. It even primed the pump by offering giveaways – $500 Visa gift cards – to the first 10 eligible participants in line at each pop-up store. Along with Visa, Wells Fargo used social media channels to announce the locations and times for the pop-ups, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Examples from Twitter:

Wells Fargo uses social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

Wells Fargo and Visa use social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

Wells Fargo and Visa use social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

Samples from Facebook:

Wells Fargo uses social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

Wells Fargo uses social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

Example from LinkedIn:

Wells Fargo uses social media and pop-up stores to launch Apple Pay

Take-aways
Although the idea of pop-up stores is to seem spontaneous, it’s clear that a lot of planning went into the Wells Fargo pop-ups in San Francisco. It’s also clear that they were part of a strategic marketing strategy to position the brand as part of the buzz and excitement around the launch of Apple Pay.

Fundamentally what that required was for the bank to recognize in the first place the nature of the opportunity this version of a digital wallet is likely to be. Historic. The smart marketers of Wells Fargo recognized that as precisely where the brand ought to be.