Cleo Case Study

How Paintgun led Cleo AI
from series A to series B

Funding Type

Series B




London, UK


The AI fintech company Cleo is among the 50 fastest growing startups in Europe and offers an intelligent assistant to help users in managing their finances. Cleo became a Paintgun client in April 2019.

Cleo is a financial assistant designed for Gen-Z that is fighting for the world's financial health. Using simplicity and humour, Cleo has helped 4 million people improve their relationship with money. But she is not a bank. She is a fintech platform for the 99% – an AI assistant defining a new category, one that goes beyond saving and budgets to actually changing how people feel about finances. Through chat, she provides users with deep insight about money while suggesting personalised financial products that increase the ability to save. That said, it is really their tone of voice that makes them special.

Cleo is a fintech product for the next generation - meeting users where they are and building the type of relationship they expect. That also means dropping the BS.


Paintgun supported Cleo for more than 2 years since 2019. Through its partnership with Paintgun, Cleo aimed at:

  • Lowering Cost Per Acquisition: Cleo’s CPA was rising, 10% weekly over a six-week period

  • Performance: optimize copies and budget

  • Creative: refresh content


Strategy #1

The first strategy we employed was the idea of Micro Targeting. We made many unique assets and targeted across 2 countries, 86 ad sets with 344 ads in total.

2 countries


based on personas

86 ad sets


344 ads

While the experiment was relatively successful, it was not a home run. We did learn something important though; the most successful ad creative (that was talking about Mario Kart targeting the gamer persona), was not successful because we targeted gamers, it was successful because so many people knew about Mario Kart.

Step 1: Micro targeting, Cultural currency: Mario Cart, Step 2: Macro targeting
Strategy #2

Another creative strategy we tried to execute on was making TikTok Remixes. The idea here was as follows: we knew that TikTok content was getting popular, so we thought “let’s try to do something with that”.

We divided our TikTok efforts up 3 parts:

  1. We contacted TikTok makers and asked them to produce new videos based on our briefs

  2. We bought TikTok videos  and gave these to Motion designers to edit or “remix” (as we called this) into ads

  3. We took the TikTok videos we’ve bought and just stuck a simple banner on top with Insta stories

Strategy #3

Barney Hussey-Yeo, Cleo’s CEO asked us if we could produce 20 assets per week. We noticed that the video assets weren’t performing as well as the static assets, which presented a perfect fit with meme-like content which is trendy on online meme accounts. Shortly after, we hit our biggest creative success with The Community Post (CP) of which the Beermoney ad (see the first one) has been the most successful historically.

Beermoney ad

The growth on the account was huge! The Beermoney ad tripled the amount of users we were acquiring per day from 1.5k to 5k users with the same budget.

Screenshot of graph with the tripled amount of users

Here again, the success came from people liking and sharing the ad en masse. With the fintech company Cleo, we were now producing 20 unique assets per week. It was challenging in the beginning but helped us streamline our production pipeline and we managed to deliver this every week. We now had a new philosophy: “when you optimise for quantity you get quality”.

Creative Sprints

Systemising creative success
Systemising creative success graph

Where does the “Optimise for quantity to get quality”-concept come from? It tells the story of a professor of photography who divided the class in two and said to half the students they would get $1 per photo and they could hand in as many as they liked. Then to the other half, he said, I will give you $10 for a great photo and $25 for an outstanding photo. The outcome? The half of the class, which focused on handing in volume, made better photos. The same philosophy applies to Paintgun, we produce in bulk, and within the high volume we will find something which works, instead of trying to create the perfect ad (because it is so difficult to do so).

Photo of Barnaby Hussey-Yeo
Founder & CEO Cleo AI
Barnaby Hussey-Yeo
Founder & CEO Cleo AI

“After only 6 weeks of design sprints and rapid testing, Paintgun cracked the code. UA spiked in a way we had not seen before.”



on average



Faster than hiring
creatives in-house



Faster turnaround
for ad creatives



Reduction in average
cost per ad creative


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