A radio advertisement from payday lenders Wonga with rewritten lyrics from the song Mr Sandman from the 1950s was banned as “irresponsible” by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The controversial online lender used the song to market its short-term loans, which have an annual interest rate of over 5,800%.
It rewrote the text to say, “Mr. Wonga lend me some batter. Make it the easiest loan I will ever know. When I go online, give me two options. One for how much I want. Two for how long. Mr. Wonga at wonga.com. They make it easy for yourself when the month feels too long. Thanks for all you have done. Mr. Wonga, you are number one “.
The ASA checked to see if some of the allegations in the ad were irresponsible because they created the impression that taking out a high-interest loan could be made frivolously. Of particular concern was that the claim, “Mr. Wonga, you make it easy when the month feels too long” gave the impression that a high-interest short-term loan could be routinely taken out between paydays to supplement monthly income.
The ASA said, “We believed that the lawsuit created the impression that a high-yield short-term loan was not a financial commitment that required much consideration, and that was also reinforced by allegations about the simplicity of the Application process strengthened. “.”
But Wonga said the ad showed that the lender would be able to provide funds “quickly and efficiently” once a customer visited their website and completed an application.
The ad was investigated after a listener complained that it was inappropriately scheduled because it aired when children could hear it. The ASA rejected the complaint, saying that while the melody was “catchy and optimistic”, the content of the text was “unlikely to attract their attention”.
Payday lenders have come under fire lately because of their high interest rates and misleading advertisements that neglect the seriousness of payday loans. Their television commercials have also been criticized for taking place during the day, when unemployed and vulnerable viewers are most likely to tune in.
The city’s watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), will take over regulation of the payday loan industry in April. Martin Wheatley, CEO of the FCA, said he was not ruling out a total ban on advertising or tighter restrictions on when and where payday lenders could advertise their products.