I’ve written before about my concerns that payday lenders are busy targeting children with their friendly puppets and juvenile jingles. This week more proof emerged that even if they are not deliberately targeting our kids, payday lender commercials are being seen by children and, presumably, influencing them.
This week’s damning evidence came from media regulator Ofcom, which revealed that the number of payday loan ads seen by Britain’s kids has soared almost 20,000 per cent in just four years.
In 2008 some 3 million payday loan ads were seen by children aged 4 to 15. By 2012 that number had ballooned to 596 million. The latter figure means the average child saw 70 payday loan adverts last year.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s 70 adverts too many. Further analysis of the Ofcom data reveals that, disturbingly, more than half of all payday loan ads were broadcast during the daytime in 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of payday loan ads broadcast on TV climbed from 17,000 in 2009 to 397,000 last year. The growth means there was more TV advertising for payday loans than for mortgages, life insurance or investments in 2012.
Citizens Advice has launched a campaign to highlight irresponsible payday loan advertising and the use of celebrity endorsements and cartoon characters in adverts.
“The ads draw a veil over the hardships caused by payday loans,” said Gillian Guy of the charity. “We want TV viewers to take a stand against the payday loan industry by reporting irresponsible or misleading advertising. The FCA needs to stop payday lenders targeting children with advertising.”
I agree. Payday lenders have the right to advertise, responsibly, their high-cost products, but they shouldn’t be flooding kids’ TV with their commercials.