Wonga chairman axes elderly puppets

Wonga: new chairman axes brand's Wongies puppet characters
Wonga: new chairman axes brand's Wongies puppet characters

Wonga's new chairman Andy Haste has vowed to scrap the elderly puppet characters the pay-day lender uses in its advertising.

Haste, who was previously chief executive officer of the insurer, RSA, made the announcement during a video interview on www.openwonga.com, in which he set out his six key priorities for the company.

He said the fourth of his six key priorities was to "re-present Wonga to the public, especially through its advertising, in a way that accesses the right type of customer…"

Haste added: "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."

A spokeswoman for Wonga clarified that Haste was only talking about reviewing Wonga's ads, not its ad agencies.

Wonga has been using elderly puppet characters – called The Wongies - to advertise its loans since 2011. In the past year, the characters have been upgraded from rubber to CGI graphics.

Albion London created the characters and still handles Wonga’s advertising. The agency did not respond in time to comment.

Wonga has come under fire for airing ads on daytime television and children’s channels, as well as for insinuating that interest rates on short-term loans were "irrelevant".

Wonga announced that it had hired Haste today. He replaces Errol Damelin - one of the businesses' co-founders, who resigned in June.

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