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New boss axes Wonga’s TV ad puppets – actually they seem to have checked out already

Payday lender Wonga, under fire from all sides for charging interest at thousands of percentage points and chasing late payers via a fictional law firm (it’s not the only one, mind) is axing the elderly puppets who’ve been the mainstay of its advertising through London agency Albion.

New boss Andy Haste says: “I’m very aware of the criticism of the current approach and the puppets will be going. And I’m going to be reviewing all our advertising and marketing to make sure that we don’t leave any impression that we’re trying to target the very young or the vulnerable.”

Actually Albion and whoever’s in charge of marketing at Wonga (maybe whoever was in charge) seem to have got the message already. Wonga’s latest ad, which still features one elderly party, takes a different tack (complete with a bloody great health warning).

So Haste may be shutting an already closed stable door. But it’s good PR I suppose.

But you have to give Albion credit for getting Wonga noticed; its ads have topped Marketing magazine’s ‘most-recalled’ on a number of occasions.

Wonga is also the shirt sponsor for Newcastle United, owned by Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley. Ashley should really own Millwall, whose motto is: ‘you don’t like us, we don’t care’ or ruder variations thereof.

Will Haste (who used to work at insurer RSA) be seen up in Geordie-land supping a pint with Ashley (when he’s finished berating his marketers, of course)? Even Ashley must be wondering if signing up with Wonga was his wisest decision.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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