Wonga radio ad banned for trivialising high interest loans

Wonga: radio ad is banned by the ASA
Wonga: radio ad is banned by the ASA

Pay day loan firm Wonga has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) over a radio ad promoting the simplicity of taking out a high-interest short term loan.

The ad contains the 1950s song ‘Mr Sandman’ with new lyrics including "You make it easy when the month feels too long" and "Mr Wonga, you’re number one". It is the latest in a string of bans for Wonga.

In July 2010, the ASA banned a Wonga TV ad, for being too light-hearted in tone to fully convey the serious nature of taking out a loan. In the following year one of the company’s TV ads was banned for being misleading.

The latest ad was challenged by the ASA for being "irresponsible, because it gave the impression that the process of taking a high interest loan was one that could be taken lightly".

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form and the ASA has told Wonga to ensure its ads do not imply that payday loans can routinely be used to supplement an income.

The ban comes in the wake of a warning to payday loan firms from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is due to take over regulation of consumer credit from the Office of Fair Trading on 1 April 2014.

A consultation on the FCA’s proposals for tougher regulation – including clear risk warnings on all ads – will close on 3 December, with the final guidance set for publication in February 2014.

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