Due to the sensitive nature of cases, we were unable to speak to victims of illegal money lending. There was also no research into the extent of illegal money lending specific to Wales.
Instead, we used what was available to us – significant desk research of other nations coupled with existing SLSW knowledge and anecdotal data on victims and illegal money lenders.
Other loan shark campaigns were flooded with cliched images of loan sharks and actual sharks, used aggressive language such as “bite back” and encouraged vulnerable people to confront their loan shark.
Our research uncovered gaps in this approach:
- Don’t fit the stereotype – from an elderly lady in her 80s to a church leader, loan sharks come in many guises. Target vulnerable people and groom victims in unsuspecting locations.
- Common characteristics – loan sharks are friendly at first and later turn threatening.
- Don’t stand up – victims are vulnerable, more likely to have mental health issues and a lack of understanding of the risk; unlikely to confront or report a loan shark for fear, mistaken loyalty, and shame.
- Reasons for borrowing – Not stereotypical reasons e.g., drugs, but to pay for everyday essentials and bills.
Our strategic approach was clear:
- Use current insight to launch a bilingual campaign to test engagement with SLSW in areas of high deprivation and high risk of illegal money lending.
- Conduct Wales specific research into illegal money lending to inform future campaigns.
We developed two creative strands to address two key issues identified in our research to educate our audience and signpost them to support and targeted the messages through hyper-focused digital, out of home and PR in areas where illegal money lending was most prevalent – Neath, Port Talbot and Wrexham.