The embattled business has brought in Bafta-nomimated director Gary Tarn to head the independent production, titled “12 Portraits”, for its release in the coming months. It is being shot on locations around the UK with Wonga customers volunteering to take part in unscripted scenes.
The film, a first for the payday loan industry, will explore the effect the company’s service has had on the lives of the customers with Tarn being handed a free brief to shape the documentary-style drama. A distributor is currently being sought as Wonga plans to release the film in selected cinemas, at film festivals, on YouTube and possibly on TV.
The company claims the film is being developed for “anyone who has an interest” in Wonga with a marketing drive being prepped to promote the film as an “authentic and relevant portrait” of British life today. Further details of the campaign will be confirmed once filming wraps later this year.
Wonga is hoping the movie helps shift perceptions of the brand beyond its customer base as it looks to dispel perceptions about the impact of the company’s products. The firm’s “light-hearted” and “ubiquitous” marketing efforts were credited with pushing it to the top of a consumer survey on brand perceptions in the payday loan sector by Ipsos Mori last week (10 October).
Despite the findings, the brand along with the wider payday industry has come under heavy criticism from some consumer groups and politicians this year over how fairly customers are treated. The mounting concerns have led to the newly-formed Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) promising to toughen regulation of the burgeoning sector when it assumes responsibility next year.
Niall Wass, chief operating officer, Wonga, says the movie aims to focus on the more positive aspects of the payday loan business with regards to its customer service. 90 per cent of Wonga customers would recommend the service to a friend, he adds.
Wass says: “Wonga has rarely been out of the headlines this year. We have a few loud critics and, while scrutiny of mistakes we make is absolutely appropriate, the voice of people who actually use and value our services the silent majority is usually missing from the picture.”