The 2000s are back in a big way, whether consumers like it or not. Klarna is jumping on the resurgence by partnering with someone who’s viewed as one of the original digital influencers and a touchstone personality from the decade.
The Swedish BNPL firm is not only tapping into Hilton’s recognizability as a public figure associated with Y2K aesthetics, but also her media know-how through the partnership with 11:11 Media, which was founded with former Disney executive Bruce Gersh in 2021.
In new ads directed by Tanu Muino, Hilton reacts to surrealistic happenings that tie into Klarna’s products with the “That’s Smooth” tagline, which is meant to communicate that even the well-seasoned shopper is impressed by the company’s offerings. One spot, “Stretch your Payments,” depicts the socialite buying ice cream in a very 2000s tracksuit. A dachshund passing by on the sidewalk magically elongates, with Hilton expressing disbelief and then clocking that the dog’s tag reads, “Stretch your payments with Klarna.”
On top of payment and shopping options, the campaign calls out other Klarna perks, like buyer protection guarantees and package tracking. Additional marketing elements include live events, social content and future collaborations.
Stills photographed by Adrienne Raquel reference Hilton lore, with one showing her in a sparkly mini-dress that recalls the outfit she wore for her well-documented 21st birthday party.
Existing Klarna ambassador Bretman Rock appears alongside Hilton in the creative. Rock is a beauty-focused creator who got a start on YouTube and Vine and now wields a wide audience across social, including 18.5 million Instagram followers.
Some marketers have shifted their nostalgia plays from the ’80s and ’90s forward a generation to cater to the interests of younger consumers who are starting to enter the workforce and accrue more spending power.
In a statement, Klarna Chief Marking Officer David Sandström said that the company’s customers have “grown up” with Hilton. The firm released a Global Y2K Trend Report to accompany the campaign that found 64% of respondents view the 2000s as cooler than today. The research points to an uptick in shopping for Y2K fashion products like low-rise jeans.