CMO of the Week: Fiverr's Gali Arnon

As a leading platform for remote freelance talent from 160 countries, Fiverr was already equipped to handle the nearly universal pivot to a virtual workforce this past year – and saw double-digit revenue growth as a result of the digital transformation. But for Fiverr’s chief marketing officer Gali Arnon, the decision to translate that growth into a story for the company’s first Super Bowl campaign this year had to be a strategic one.

As a leading platform for remote freelance talent from 160 countries, Fiverr was already equipped to handle the nearly universal pivot to a virtual workforce this past year – and saw double-digit revenue growth as a result of the digital transformation. But for Fiverr’s chief marketing officer Gali Arnon, the decision to translate that growth into a story for the company’s first Super Bowl campaign this year had to be a strategic one.

“Businesses had to shift and adapt themselves to the new normal, and we wanted to document this process on how Fiverr could be a resource for them,” Arnon says.

So in November, when Philadelphia-based small business Four Seasons Total Landscaping went viral as the unexpected backdrop for a Rudy Giuliani press conference, founder Marie Siravo emerged as a perfect representation for that campaign. Literally overnight, Siravo and her family-owned company had to ramp up their website, social media presence and merch offerings to meet the sudden demand for business, a scenario that many Fiverr customers often find themselves in on a slightly smaller scale.

“We decided not to use a celebrity in our ad, and Maria felt like a perfect match for us,” Arnon says. “She was a great extension of our ‘It Starts Here’ campaign, telling the story of a small to medium business that had to react, adapt and be agile. We wanted to celebrate that in the most funny and optimistic way.”

  

Since its Feb. 7 premiere, Fiverr’s spot has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube, and prompted some of the highest volume of press and positive social media conversation the company has seen to date. “Obviously the interest in our brand and our searches has increased in a very significant way, it’s still early to say what will be the long-term impact,” Arnon says. “We’re doing before-and-after research, and I’m sure it will add to the level of awareness for us in the American market for Fiverr as a brand. We’re proud of the way the commercial was perceived — it was funny and optimistic, and most people really liked it.”

After going public in 2019, Fiverr had a breakthrough 2020 as its gig-economy marketplace reached more customers. According to the company’s fourth quarter earnings, revenue grew 77% year-over-year, including an 89% increase in fourth-quarter alone (to $55.9 million). Active buyers using the company’s resources also grew 45% to 3.4 million in 2020, compared to 2.4 million at the end of 2019. 

Brand Innovators caught up with Arnon from her office in Tel Aviv to learn more about the insights that fueled the company’s breakthrough campaign, its recent acquisition of Working Not Working and why “the future of work is already the present.” The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic change your business last year, and what were some pivots or innovations you put in place to meet the new consumer needs?

Really this year has been a landmark year for Fiverr. We’ve been at the forefront of the future of work for over 10 years. We’ve been preaching about the ability to work remotely with talent globally since we were founded, and I think what the pandemic did was just accelerate those processes. Everything we already knew — from seeing millions of businesses buying services, building their business, and promoting their services through the platform by using global freelance talent — I think the whole world was starting to understand that it's actually possible.  

While the majority of the workforce was working remotely in the last year vs. in-person, that’s where we've been, and we’ve been really humbled to see how many people use Fiverr as a resource. From one side, we saw so many freelancers using our platform looking for ways to make additional income — or their only income, because so many people lost their jobs. And at the same time, we’ve seen so many businesses join our platform. There's a huge sector of small businesses that had to move from offline to online, and if you’re not already an ecommerce business, selling your products online was the only way to really survive the past few lockdowns. That was the case for most countries, so services like website building, social media promotion, digital marketing design, copywriting — all those services had a great demand. I think Fiverr has become more and more revant and becoming a true resource for so many people in a workforce that’s not going to change. Even when the pandemic is over, remote work and a flexible mode of work is going to stay with us, so Fiverr is truly relevant to these times.

What was it like shooting and creating your first Super Bowl campaign for the brand?

The story of Four Seasons Total Landscaping came to mind not when the event happened but afterwards. When we saw Marie and her family react to this opportunity, it was a big deal because she was able to take this moment and make the best out of it by working on her social media. It became so funny and viral, the way they worked on their Instagram pages and Twitter, and started all that merchandise with those really funny quotes. That’s why we called our campaign “Opportunity Knocks.” We saw an incredible woman and family that were able to be so agile, and entrepreneurial, showing entrepreneurship values. This was where we felt like it was spot-on with what we wanted to convey to the world.  

Add to that we had COVID, and there were so many protocols we had to follow. I would say it was challenging, but eventually we shot the ad in Mexico City. Everything was very tight, but we are super proud of what we've been able to achieve.

Just days after the Super Bowl, Fiverr announced its acquisition of creative talent platform Working Not Working. What was the strategy behind that investment, and what white-space will the company help you fill at Fiverr?

We’re really excited about this new company joining our family. We felt there were shared values between us and Working Not Working, both companies believe that talent is global, and everyone should have access to great talent. If you look at the services of Working Not Working, they can provide really top-notch creative services to brands and agencies. So if you are looking to produce a campaign in a certain country or a service that’s more complex in nature, it requires a lot of communication between the brand and the creative person, Working Not Working will be an amazing solution. I think Fiverr is not there yet, in terms of providing services for complex, long-term campaigns that need a collaboration between different people and not just one person. So in order to expand to more territories, this is exactly the type of service we’re looking for helps us go upmarket. 

What are some pillars you've identified for the Fiverr brand that you've activated against this past year?

Our purpose is to provide opportunities for everyone in the world to build their brands, dreams and businesses. And if you think about our freelancers, they're coming from 160 countries, and they are only measured by their skill. So if in the real world you have so many other factors that influence the potential you have, it shouldn’t matter where you're born, your life circumstances, your gender, ethnicity. It only matters what level of service you give. And I think that's creating more equality in the world, where you can actually level the playing field for so many people. 

And it’s the same thing with businesses. Because we allow businesses access to a wide variety of services across many categories, that’s really something we’re really proud of. If you look at our past campaigns, in the past five years we’ve used our community in every single thing we do, whether it’s out-of-home, our website, retention campaigns. Our community is in the center of everything we do. 

When we went public on the day of the IPO [in June 2019], on the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange you can only have space for 30 people. And those were not the company board members, it was our founder and 12 members of our community, and a freelancer was ringing the bell. I think that summarizes who we are and what we believe in in terms of our brand pillars. 

And in terms of our mission, we are changing the way the world works together. This cannot be more relevant than now, the world through and post COVID it’s not going to be the same. The future of work is already the present. 

What are some new initiatives or campaigns you're excited about in 2021?

I can't say much about future surprises, but I can assure you there will be some. I'll say that we’re going to expand our presence in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. We already have TV campaigns in the UK and Germany, we had one in Australia, and we’re going to keep on further investing in those strategic markets. We opened the platform in six additional languages, which means we’ll invest in those territories as well, and we're going to keep on creating campaigns that will be celebrating the present of work and this digital transformation that businesses can go through using Fiverr.

Andrew Hampp is an entertainment marketing consultant for Brand Innovators and the founder of consultancy 1803 LLC, based in Berkeley, California.

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