Wonga has radio ad banned by Advertising Standards Agency

October 9, 2013 No Comments

Payday lender Wonga were investigated for two issues by the Advertising Standards Agency, of which one was upheld and one was not upheld.

A radio ad for the company featured the popular 1950s song ‘Mr Sandman’ with newly written lyrics.  A listener challenged whether the ad had been appropriately scheduled, because she believed it was irresponsible to broadcast the ad at times when it could be heard by children, and the ASA challenged whether the ad, and in particular the claims “Make it the simplest loan that I’ll ever know” and “you make it easy when the month feels too long”, was irresponsible, because it gave the impression that the process of taking a high interest loan was one that could be taken lightly.

In repsonse, Wonga said there was no implication in the ad that children could obtain a loan. Their service was only available to over 18-year-olds and, if children heard the ad, they would be unable to apply for credit. Wonga pointed out that many financial services ads used memorable jingles or characters, but there was nothing in their ad that that was harmful or unsuitable for children to hear.

The Radio Advertising Clearance Centre said the ad was clearly addressed to potential customers over the age of 18 rather than children. They believed the melody used in the ad was unlikely to be of interest to children and therefore did not consider a scheduling restriction was necessary. However, on this point the complaint was not upheld.

Wonga said the aim of the ad was to show that after a customer had visited their website and the application was completed, Wonga would be able to provide funds quickly and efficiently. They did not believe that the ad, either the jingle or the lyrics, gave the impression that the process of taking out a high interest loan was one that could be made lightly.

The ASA considered that the claim gave the impression that a high interest short-term loan was not a financial commitment that required a great deal of consideration and that impression was also compounded by the claims about the simplicity of the application process.

Because the ad implied that it was suitable to routinely use a payday loan for the purpose of supplementing a monthly income without much consideration, the ASA concluded that the ad was irresponsible.

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form and Wonga were told to ensure that their ads did not imply that payday loans could routinely be used to supplement an income.

Article from financialreporter.co.uk