Wonga advert ‘not socially responsible,’ says ASA


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The Independent Online

A radio advert for payday lender Wonga has been banned for being irresponsible.

The Advertising Standards Authority slammed the ad - which featured a rewritten version of the popular 1950s song Mr Sandman - because it “implied that it was suitable to routinely use a payday loan for the purpose of supplementing a monthly income without much consideration”.

The ASA said a line in the rewritten song -“Mr Wonga you make it easy when the month feels too long” - gave the impression that a high interest short-term loan was something that could routinely be taken between paydays in order to supplement a monthly income.

As such it ruled that the ad breached a social responsibility rule in the advertising code and could not be broadcast again.

The ban was welcomed by the debt charity Step Change. “We had said for some time that adverts for payday loans need to carry health warnings,” said a spokesperson. “The payday loan industry has positioned itself as the lender of last resort for the financially vulnerable, but often glosses over the serious risks that come with such high-cost borrowing.

”The reality is that among our clients, those with payday loans are more likely to be arrears on rent, council tax and energy bills. Using credit to meet budget shortfalls can be an early sign of financial hardship and high-cost borrowing may only serve to worsen the situation.“

But Wonga remained seemingly unrepentant. It said in a statement: ”We note the ASA's ruling, although this ad has not been on air for over two months.“

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that Wonga was irresponsible to broadcast the ad at times when it could be heard by children. The ASA concluded that ”the ad was unlikely to result in any harm to children“.

The ASA previously banned a payday loan ad by Cash Lady, featuring two-times bankrupt Kerry Katona. The banned ad implied it was more convenient and desirable to get a loan through payday lenders than high street banks Meanwhile Britain's most profitable payday lender has just changed the name of its struggling Wonga For Business loan firm to the more bland title Everline. Critics say the move was to distance the company from the negative publicity surrounding its much-criticised consumer brand.