‘Light-hearted marketing’ helps Wonga top payday lending survey

Wonga – a brand often accused in the press for targeting vulnerable people with its high APR loans – has emerged as the leading payday lending brand in a consumer survey from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, which credits its “light-hearted” and “ubiquitous” marketing efforts.

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The report, conducted by Ipsos Mori, claims that adverts which disassociated payday lending with being desperate for money and are  “less aggressive” are more successful with customers, with Wonga being the most notable example within the sector.

Wonga’s TV adverts, featuring puppets depicting elderly characters, were seen as the most commonly recalled and favourable ads among companies for being “less pushy”, although participants registered widespread disapproval of payday loan advertising on daytime television as they felt it targeted the financially vulnerable.  

The report reads: “Wonga’s television adverts featuring the puppets were, in general, the only ones that participants were comfortable with, whereas those of the other companies were typically disliked.”

It goes on to say: “Wonga’s adverts tended to focus on the softer and more positive aspects of payday lending and did not overtly sell the product to customers, whereas other lenders tended to use a harder selling approach, and suggested images which related to financial hardship.”

Other payday loan brands discussed in the sector included Quickquid, whose TV ads featuring rapidly moving clocks and were noted for being “too formal” and “off-putting”, as participants felt they were deliberately difficult to understand.

The report also notes that most consumers are wary of unsolicited email ads from payday loan firms, as they feel they do not know the origin of the emails, or have a sense of the reliability or the trustworthiness of the brands sending them. 

It also recommends that a “total cost of credit” note, rather than a notice of the APR payday lenders charge, would be more useful as it makes the brand appear more “transparent”. 

Last week the new financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, outlined an advertising crackdown on payday loans companies – a sector Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, branded ”unscrupulous”. 

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