Building trust and investing in creativity can help the “misunderstood” fintech firm Klarna to overcome controversy, according to its Head of Marketing, AJ Coyne.

Founded by Swedish entrepreneurs Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson in 2005, Klarna’s ‘shop now, pay later’ product has shone in a booming e-commerce market and the business has grown rapidly. In June, Klarna raised $639 million in a new funding round, valuing the company at $45.6bn. Klarna is seen by many as the poster child of the industry. 

But the sector has attracted negative headlines over debt concerns and is facing the likely prospect of greater regulation in the UK.

However, Coyne, who was speaking at MAD//Fest London as part of MAD//Fest and AdsWizz's 'MAD//Fest Moments' series, says the controversy is largely based on a lack of understanding and that Klarna has made building trust a top priority: “There’s no silver bullet to building trust. Truth is the most important weapon in your artillery. We’re very misunderstood. It’s very important for us to lean into the trust topic, drive a new conversation and celebrate our 15 million customers who love us and think we’re great.”

Coyne added that Klarna had initially reacted with caution to the pandemic but had since ramped up its marketing efforts: “We were cautious at first. We didn’t want to be seen to be overly promoting our encouraging unnecessary spending. Once we realised our products were needed and helping people,  we changed strategy and increased spend.”

Going forward, Coyne believes creativity and a sense of purpose will be more important than ever for brands: “Coming out of a two year hiatus, the biggest opportunity is to invest in creativity and your brand, and to make a difference or have a point of view. We can’t rest on our laurels with mediocre work and mediocre messaging.”

Recorded live at MAD//Fest London 2021 - the first major in-person industry event to take place since the pandemic - ‘MAD//Fest Moments’ provides a snapshot on the marketing priorities of leaders at brands including KFC, Gymshark, Boots and Beavertown, as well as industry figureheads such as S4 Executive Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell.

Produced in partnership with programmatic audio specialists AdsWizz and shot by Shootsta, the interview series will focus on how top brands have adapted to the pandemic, new innovation and growth opportunities.