You’ll have to forgive my rather sardonic humour. I was reflecting earlier about the successes and failures of advertising campaigns that feature animated characters, following the announcement that banks would be contributing towards one such campaign in September. And then the topic of Wonga came up.
It’s barely been out of the news this week; firstly, thanks to Newcastle United’s hypocrite striker, and secondly, thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s embarrassing oversight of the Church of England’s investment profile.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, Wonga uses ‘animated’ pensioners in its advertising campaigns. Betty, Earl, and Joyce – a convival crowd. Everyone trusts an old person, after all.
Call it that Friday feeling – I couldn’t help envisioning a parody where one of the elderly folk opens a balance statement, sees the 5,853% rate, and promptly collapses of a heart attack.
Instead of an ambulance, a debt-collector arrives, who proceeds to slip the ring off her finger, extract the gold teeth, and then arrange to sell off her organs for scientific research. All in a day’s work!
Now, the Serious Part
This is a serious point behind all this. Wonga’s television ads have helped it become the UK’s best-known lender. It’s a formula that can work.
And while it’s not all about Terry Bush and animated dogs these days, financial services still seem to like their animated adverts. The results have been rather varied, though.
The last major television advertising campaign involving the banking industry flopped pretty spectacularly.
A six-figure sum was spent on advertising the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, only for research to show that only 3% of people were aware of it. This is where the millions went. Epic fail.
Banks will hope to do much better.
The new £750 million switching system for bank accounts is set to launch on time in September. It’s quite a revolution, as far as banking goes – and that’s not a phrase to be used lightly.
The new system will allow customers to switch current accounts in just seven days – a quarter of the time it can currently take. Payments in and out of old accounts are automatically redirected to the new one for a year, which offers plenty of time for employers to update their systems.
And even better, the system is backed by a switch guarantee (as well it should, at a cost of £750 million). Customers will be compensated if any problems occur.
The idea behind the new system is to boost competition in the market for current accounts.
As a nation, we have been notoriously cautious about changing banks; the process has traditionally been seen as both inconvenient and risky.
The new system aims to change all of that. The switch is completed within a week, on a day of your own choosing. If anything goes wrong, you’ll get your money back.
But yes – after the last debacle, you might as well read more about it online. There’s no guarantee that a television ad is going to do the trick…