Last year, Wonga ditched the Wongie puppets for its ‘Credit for the real world’ campaign, which placed a greater impetus on responsible lending.
According to YouGov, Wonga has bounced back from an all-time low Buzz score – which is a balance of the positive and negative sentiment Brits feel towards a brand – of -32.0 in 2014 to a strengthened score of -20.6 in 2015. This shift made it YouGov’s second most improved brand of 2015 behind the Co-Operative Bank.
However it is worth noting that Wonga has grown its Buzz score from an incredibly low base and remains bottom of a table of the 42 biggest cards, loans and building society brands. Its current score of -15.3 is some distance away from market leader PayPal’s score of seven.
Bibby told Marketing Week: “It is great to see some positive momentum return to the brand but we would like to get Wonga onto the ‘most liked’ lists as opposed to the ‘most improved’. There is still a long way to go.
“We’ve made huge strides over the last two years to transform into an authorised financial services business. And we’ve seen that, with some of our own internal tracking, consumers are taking us more seriously and see us as more responsible.”
Becoming more responsible
Bibby is keen to stress that the brand has completely changed internally and is going “beyond the norm” in ensuring it advertises and acts responsibly.
“We do an independent audit every month on all our marketing channels and we index against under 18s to make sure any unsuitable programming is removed,” he explains.
“This has seen a significant reduction in the number of channels we can advertise on; we’ve gone from 135 to about 65. It has obviously made our jobs a lot harder and puts a big overhead on us but it is the right thing to do. When it comes to under 18s seeing our content, Wonga is industry leading and ahead of a lot of the alcohol and gambling brands.”
Bibby said Wonga will persist with the new campaign through 2016 and that it will “naturally evolve”. Wonga made 2.5 million loans in 2014, down from 3.7 million in 2013. However Bibby said he expects the introduction of the new brand activity last year to have had an “upward impact” on overall loan numbers for 2015.
Wonga has endured a torrid few years, gaining enemies ranging from MPs to clergymen as well as high-profile fines, banned adverts and chairman Andrew Haste’s decision to pull its advertising altogether and start afresh in July 2014.
But Bibby said that, nearly two years later, Wonga is finally heading in the right direction.
He concluded: “Change has to be real, you can’t advertise your way out of a bad situation and we must change from the inside out. But we can now stand behind the claims in our adverts.
“There is a long way to go but most encouraging for us is that our brand consideration scores have improved. People who had issues with Wonga in the past are now considering us for payday loans and that’s an important step.”