How Classifieds Startup Letgo Aims To Help Americans Get Rid Of Their Useless Stuff

The brand uses its new ad campaign as an extreme product demo for mobile-only classifieds.

We don’t need shows like Hoarders and Storage Wars to know many of us hang on to stuff a bit too long. You are never going to use that juicer again. It’s just sitting there, right next to the Thigh Master, a monument to spontaneous home shopping and your 2003 New Year’s resolutions. According to startup Letgo, there is an estimated $381 billion worth of used but untouched goods in U.S. homes. And its new marketing campaign is aimed at shaking some of that loose.


Launched in the U.S. last October, Letgo new ads are directed by Craig Gillespie–and unveiled soon after the debut of Craig’s newest film The Finest Hours hit theatres–and created by agency CP+B Miami. Each spot is a ridiculous situation in which the most logical thing to do is to–you guessed it–let go of that long-dormant item. A bowling ball. Speakers. An old sleeping bag.

Letgo co-founder Alec Oxenford says that even though his previous company OLX had a presence in most of the emerging world–Brazil, Indonesia, Poland, Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere–the U.S. was ripe for a classifieds solution built for mobile-only like Instagram, Snapchat, or WhatsApp.

“In the U.S., there is so much stuff that people store–there’s more storage facilities in the U.S. than Starbucks coffee shops,” says Oxenford. “But there’s been very little innovation in classifieds in the U.S., particularly in the person to person category. Every other category we’ve seen innovation over the last few years, but here you have a huge category and it’s completely underdeveloped.”

The Letgo app doesn’t require a login and very few steps. Snap a picture of whatever you want to sell and post almost instantly. Oxenford says another differentiating factor is that while Craigslist and others are organized by most recent item listed, items on Letgo are sorted by geolocation. “Basically all the Web 1.0 platforms are all organized by freshness–if I post my bike, it goes to the top and moves down the list as time passes,” says Oxenford. “For a buyer, that’s not necessarily the most relevant. Our app, like Uber or Airbnb, organizes its content by geolocation. It’s very relevant, increases the likelihood of transactions and person to person exchanges.”

At the heart of the new campaign is illustrating our illogical attachment to things we don’t use. It’s an approach OLX first used in Brazil. “We had a campaign fairly early on that expressed the same sentiment, and it had an exponential effect on our users,” says Oxenford. “It took off. This irrational emotional attachment was the insight that led people to let go of this stuff to get money.”

CP+B Miami executive creative director Gustavo Sarkis says the goal for the new campaign is to express that irrational emotional attachment, while showing people how easy Letgo is. “We thought the most compelling way to illustrate this situation would be to come up with the surreal and extreme situations where people would be holding on to things they don’t need. These are just glorified product demos, educating the customer on how to sell their second-hand stuff really easily.”


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.