The following is a guest post from Denise Boyd, winner of CFA’s inaugural prize for the most impressive piece of consumer advocacy or research presented during the Soapbox session at this year’s National Consumer Congress.
If we think about memorable advertising slogans, and the campaigns behind them, what is it about them that made them effective?
They’re all examples of public education campaigns that worked. And the reason they worked, is because they understood their target audience.
As a kid in the UK, I remember a campaign to stop people dropping litter. Even now, I can still hear the mantra “my little bit of rubbish won’t do any harm” repeated over and over until it was deafening, and the mounds of rubbish piled up in a park. I never drop rubbish anywhere – I’m hardwired to put rubbish in a bin. So that worked!
In 2016, Financial Literacy Australia funded Consumer Action Law Centre and Financial Rights Legal Centre to have a go at a financial literacy education campaign. We were worried by data showing more and more people taking out payday loans, and evidence of lenders rebranding as “microfinance” for your hipster lifestyle, rather than what they are: loan sharks with a licence!
We decided to target a group who was likely to get one of these loans – young, blue collar blokes in the 25-35 age group – think “buddies, beer and betting” – it’s all about living in the moment.
I should say that these guys aren’t our typical clients – but if they keep going the way they are, they eventually will be. Our challenge was to get them to think twice.
The research told us we had maybe 15 minutes to interrupt the thinking that leads to the website or app of the modern payday lender. We also knew that rationality wouldn’t work – these guys don’t seem to care about the cost.
We created a short, funny advert that would appeal to them, made a mini website that provides some basic financial literacy information, and advertised online through social media.
The campaign ran for a total of 36 days in Victoria & NSW – Sydney and Melbourne metro, and some key regional centres. The video was seen by almost a million people across all platforms, with more than a quarter of a million on YouTube alone.
We’re still evaluating the campaign but the early indicators are that we did, indeed, interrupt the thinking pattern, and many of those who saw the video said they were “thinking twice” about getting a high cost payday loan.