Sam Dunn: Come on, superstars, tell 'em saving is sexy
Imagine what the right A-list celebrity could do for personal finance in schools
Sunday 18 July 2004
Plenty may disagree but Barclaycard hit a bum note by employing Jennifer Aniston's denim-clad backside in its latest advertising campaign. It wasn't just the abysmal, sixth-form-style script and paucity of invention. Rather, it was the crude attempt to use sex to sell finance.
I'm hoping viewers are much smarter than the creatives give them credit for. With luck, they'll all say: "I'll bet Jennifer raked it in for that; good on her. Now, what's on the other channel?"
Or will they watch the ad, think of the former Friends star's rear and consider taking out a Barclaycard or switching to it from their current lender?
The reality is probably somewhere in between, but the power of celebrities in projecting a message is undeniable. And this is where the financial services industry is missing a trick.
Instead of simply hoofing huge wads of cash to the stars to endorse credit cards and insurance, the sector could find a much more worthy role for the A-listers.
Imagine what the right star could do with a campaign such as that of the Personal Finance in Education Group (Pfeg), which is labouring to get personal finance taught more widely in schools.
Our thirst for gossip about the famous would mean that a picture of the celebrity at a launch or dinner backing such a project would be splashed in the pages of Heat.
The interest generated among the most valuable audience of all - the young consumers who spend money - would be remarkable.
While it may be too much to expect teenagers to chat about the merits of one young saver's account compared to another, their favourite rapper or movie star's link to a savings campaign could actually spark a genuine interest in personal finance.
Just picture the scene ... Samuel L Jackson (recently, the front man for a Barclays ad) wanders on screen and sashays up to the camera.
He taps it, gently first but then harder, before saying: "Why aren't you lot saving more money? Come on, it isn't difficult."
Sure, the script needs a bit of polishing, but you get the idea. And it is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Wendy van den Hende, the chief executive of Pfeg, says a football star such as Euro 2004 hero Wayne Rooney would be an apt role model. Given that his sports career will last only a limited time, good financial planning will be vital to him.
Ms Van den Hende argues that many obstacles would need to be overcome - including the cost and sustainability of such a campaign. Money could well be better spent on supplying training and materials for teachers to use in personal finance lessons.
This question of funding is important. While Barclaycard is happy to spend squillions to hire Aniston, and Barclays bank to splash out on star actors such as Gary Oldman and Donald Sutherland, the cash earmarked for consumer education in schools and among the wider public is, by comparison, pitiful.
For example, the bank's annual contribution to Pfeg's Excellence and Access programme is barely £170,000. Its £40,000 for a joint scheme with the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux to offer free financial advice to the public is a welcome step in the right direction, but it could afford so much more.
At the heart of this issue - and that of the cheque Barclaycard signed for Aniston - is the desperate desire of the financial services industry to get more people to buy its products.
Goodness knows, it needs something to revive the faith.
After a litany of disgrace that takes in pension mis-selling scandals, the Equitable Life fiasco, endowment mortgage shortfalls, split cap investment trust collapses and the mis-selling of high-income precipice bonds, companies need to put a shiny face back on the industry.
But then again, celebrity endorsement doesn't always work. Witness Whoopi Goldberg's recent dismissal as the face of Slim-Fast after a gag about President George Bush's family name and female genitalia.
And in the case of a "savings" celebrity, no one would want somebody merrily promoting thrift only to find they had been running up gargantuan debts of their own.
But if you are famous, keen on publicity but partial to saving a bob or two and looking to spread the "s" word, give me a call. I'd love to hear from you.
Melanie Bien is away.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Five Questions: Changes to car tax discs
Less than half of Brits carry country's £1.5tn debt burden
A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university
Misleading websites banned for tricking people into paying for ‘free’ government services
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
iJobs Money & Business
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...
To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...
Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...
Day In a Page
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000