Sam Dunn: Come on, superstars, tell 'em saving is sexy

Imagine what the right A-list celebrity could do for personal finance in schools

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.

s.dunn@independent.co.uk

Melanie Bien is away.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'