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Wonga.com: “No Hidden Charges”

Posted 29th September 2013

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I’m sure nobody reading this needs a rant about what a dreadful company Wonga is. You can get that better elsewhere, and it’s not my speciality.

I do feel moved to comment on one of the ads in their latest campaign, though. Our three heroes (Betty, Earl and Joyce) have recently gone CGI, and had a bit of a personality revamp; Betty in particular has gone from being a bit of a grouch to being sweet and lovely, thereby taking away the single interesting thing about her in previous campaigns. But I digress.

The big idea in this ad is that Earl is pretending to do a magic trick: the phrase NO HIDDEN CHARGES fails to disappear. As Joyce irritatingly points out, that’s supposed to be the point – that Wonga aren’t hiding anything to do with their charges. A fairly tedious idea for an ad, but I suppose it gets the job done.

Except that they can’t quite stop with the idea of a failed magic trick. They need to add a bit of extra visual pizazz. So in the last few seconds, despite the point of the advert being that Wonga don’t hide anything, Earl manages to create a hidden rabbit from his hat. At the exact point where Joyce is saying the selling point of Wonga is that “there are no surprises”.

Not only does it ruin the their message, it actually manages to put across the exact opposite of the intended idea. The ad is now saying that Wonga will tell you that they don’t intend to give you any hidden charges, right up until the last minute – and then will land you with a big surprise right at the very end. The exact idea about the company that the ad was supposed to counter.

Brilliant Wonga, well done!

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Jamie on 29 December 2013 @ 5pm

Because they don’t mention any figures in the advert, they don’t have to mention their ‘typical’ APR. That’d be 5853%, an amount they’re surprisingly unwilling to admit to. (If you borrowed a penny, after a year you’d owe them over £58 excluding compound interest). This is a loophole that OfCom/ASA should close, since this government isn’t going to amend the Consumer Credit Act anytime soon because Wonga is… a major Tory donor.