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PayPal's first Super Bowl ad insults Ben Franklin

Technically Incorrect: Claiming to be "new money," PayPal sneers at old money, including old men on bank notes.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Benjamin Franklin is not amused.

PayPal/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Ah, disruption.

It looks at old institutions and can't suppress a sneering giggle.

Once upon a time, I suppose PayPal was disruptive. These days, however, I can't help thinking of it as a little dowdy.

Perhaps that's why the company has decided to advertise in the Super Bowl for the first time and claim that it's down with the kids. As it were.

On Thursday, PayPal released a Super Bowl ad. It's part of what the company calls "its first major brand campaign as an independent company." (PayPal was an eBay subsidiary for a dozen years before its 2015 spinoff.)

The campaign has one simple message: PayPal is new money. Everything else is old money.

I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "new money," I think of expensively ill-dressed people who made billions in questionable ways and then installed gold faucets in their bathrooms.

However, PayPal insists in this ad: "New Money Is Not A Dirty Word."

Instead, it apparently represents progress, an always-open mentality and constant self-improvement.

But then there are the insults.

Old money, says the ad, is old men on banknotes. And who cares about Ulysses S. Grant and Benjamin Franklin? What did they ever do for us?

New money is, apparently, cool people who cross their arms to show how they're constantly self-improving...or something.

Perhaps PayPal thinks it's part of a revolution, although Apple Pay and Samsung Pay may wish to whisper something about that.

Still, I can't help finding this ad just a little old-fashioned and, dare I say it, a touch new-money tasteless.