Five questions on: Wonga's ad ban


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The Independent Online

What has the payday lender done now?

It broadcast an "irresponsible ad" that has now been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

I've seen it. It's those annoying puppets that try to flog loans while trivialising the dangers of taking out expensive short-term debt, isn't it?

It's not the puppets themselves that have been banned, despite several consumer bodies branding them irresponsible. It was a specific television commercial where one of the puppets implied that the representative interest rate – a whopping 5,853 per cent APR, by the way – was "irrelevant".

Presumably lots of people have complained?

They sure did. Viewers said the ad was irresponsible because it encouraged borrowers to ignore the APR. The ASA agreed and this week banned the ad for being misleading.

Hasn't Wonga had ads banned before?

Of course it has. A radio advert was banned last October for being irresponsible. It used a cheerful jingle – based on the old classic pop song "Mr Sandman" – to, once again, trivialise the dangers of high-cost credit. It'll no doubt have ads banned in the future as the firm relies on advertising to attract borrowers, so will continue spend millions to heavily promote its expensive loans.

Is everyone happy with the ads?

Not the charity Citizens Advice. Chief executive Gillian Guy said: "Payday lenders should not be pulling the wool over customers' eyes with misleading adverts. Glamorous and comical adverts mask the harsh reality of life in debt, and it's important that when ads fall short of standards that the ASA takes appropriate action."

The charity has been urging people to report irresponsible and misleading payday loan advertising. As a result one advert has already been removed and another seven complaints are with the ASA at the moment, it says.

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