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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Bringing ‘Pay Progress Forward’ to Life

a group of people sitting on a couch

Imagine: You’re given the choice to get double the money you need to unlock financial progress (TM) or take just what you need and give the rest to a stranger in a similar situation to your own. What would you do?

In a true bet on human generosity and the power of community, Chime® invited five individuals to receive financial advice from financial educator Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche. During their session with Tiffany, they discussed their financial goals, access to tools like Chime, and how much money they would need to unlock financial progress in their lives, such as finding an apartment, fixing their car, raising their credit, or setting up their family for a better financial future.

After meeting with Tiffany, participants sat down with renowned host and comedian Wayne Brady and learned they would be given the amount they need to unlock financial progress. At that point, they were given an ultimatum with one question: Did they want to take home double the amount they were originally offered or take only what they needed, giving the other half to someone else in a similar financial situation to their own?

We sat down with a couple of members of the Chime team who helped bring this experiment in generosity to life to get a look behind the scenes.

Bringing our brand to life

The idea for ‘Pay Progress Forward’ was to bring our new brand mission to life.

“We noticed studies showing generosity was on the decline, but we at Chime believe that people are inherently generous, and together as a community, we can start a positive movement,” explains Alivia Birdwell, Chime’s Director of Integrated Marketing Strategy and Content. “We wanted to tap into peoples’ generosity, celebrate the power of community that we see amongst Chime members each and every day, and put our own company values into practice with this activation.”

A recent survey from OnePoll on behalf of Chime, which surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults, found that while almost three-quarters of Americans (72%) consider themselves to be generous, nearly half (42%) say they feel the rest of the country is not generous. While generosity might be on the decline, we at Chime know that our members are generous, and our products help them unlock financial progress together. “It’s evident in our social community, where we see members helping each other with monthly SpotMe® Boosts,” says Jane Hong, Chime’s former Senior Social Media Strategist.

So the team started to think about how to amplify that giving spirit and show that people are inherently generous. “Our goal was to help everyday people unlock financial progress, prove that people are still generous, and show the power of community in helping us move forward together,” Alivia says. “We wanted to show that when we come together as a community, we all win — money really is a team sport.”

Focusing on financial progress

Grounded in their goal, the team thought through how to activate it through a brand effort. “It led us to a unique idea of finding everyday people with unique ambitions and putting them in a position to be generous,” Alivia says. And so the Pay Progress Forward (TM) experiment was born.

But paying it forward wasn’t just about giving away money — it was also about providing the tools participants need to actually make progress toward their ambitions. “Each of our five primary participants had a session with Tiffany Aliche to understand their goals, define an amount of money necessary to achieve them, and gather some new tools to help along the way,” Alivia says.

After their financial advice session, the five participants were told they would be given the money they needed to achieve their goal. Then, in a twist, they were told that double the money was on the table. They could either take the larger sum or keep only what they needed, giving the other half to a person in a similar situation.

What they didn’t know was that if each of the five primary participants chose to pay it forward, they would unlock $1M to split between the ten participants.

“We believe people are inherently generous, and we wanted to bring our core brand persona to life by showing that generosity,” Alivia says.

Finding consistent alignment with our brand and mission

As a brand activation, there were many moments along the way to launch when the team worked to ensure brand and mission alignment. For example, choosing a financial advisor and host for the spot. Wayne Brady is an experienced host, but moreover, he shared a story with us about someone helping him progress in life,” says Jane. “Tiffany is a well-known advisor and has shared her own experience with economic uncertainty. It was important for us to cast talent who could understand what members were going through and with whom our members would relate.”

The team also ensured brand and mission alignment in other activations, such as the Marshawn Lynch drive-thru surprises during the 2023 holiday season. “We planned that activation as a mirror to ‘Pay Progress Forward’ and to see if the idea would stick with our audience,” Jane says. “Folks can expect to see a lot more representations of ‘Pay Progress Forward’ in the future.”

Behind the scenes on set

Casting: Casting was a huge milestone for the team — and narrowing down to 10 participants was a challenge! So many people wanted the opportunity to get financial education with an expert, which made it even harder to cast participants.

Set design: The team was meticulous about every little detail. “From furniture to wardrobe, the team paid such close attention to our new brand design and aligning our color palette,” Alivia explains.

Run of show: During shooting, the team had a lot of logistics to think through. “We had to keep everyone separate from each other because nobody knew that others were there for the same opportunity,” Jane explains.

The big bet: Ultimately, the team didn’t know what the participants were going to say. “We watched with bated breath when people were responding to Wayne,” Jane says. “Their pauses and consideration had us on the edges of our seats. There was always the question of ‘What if they don’t pay it forward?’”

When the bet pays off

In the end, they all decided to pay it forward, and the group split $1M amongst themselves. “We truly found a group that reflects the mindset of our members and company values,” Jane says. “Our team has the visual representation of Chime’s brand ‘greenprint’ (Chime’s version of a blueprint, which summarizes our brand values) memorized, but to see it personified really took our brand launch to a whole other level. It was meaningful because to make a spot like this in a way that really gives back to the community is doing things the Chime way.”

For Alivia, it comes down to creating a brand activation that champions our mission. “I feel really proud of the work and to be representing a company that’s about helping people move forward and achieve their ambitions,” she says. “This brand experience was a testament to our mission, and I’m so excited for other brand activations that will continue to help people and put them in positions to pay it forward — that ripple of generosity is contagious and part of the fabric of our mission.”

What would you do if given the choice to pay it forward?

Chime does not provide financial, legal, or tax advice. Please check with your legal, financial, or tax advisor.