Cowshed x Stop Loan Sharks Wales

The Challenge

Illegal money lending has serious consequences, yet people across Wales still borrow money from loan sharks. The cost-of-living crisis exacerbates the issue, with loan sharks taking advantage of people in difficult financial situations. Cowshed supported Stop Loan Sharks Wales in its mission to eradicate illegal money lending, using intelligence to prosecute loan sharks and provide support to victims of the crime.

The idea

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.

Two new intelligence leads

The impact

  • 11,380% increase in web traffic (+2176% on KPI)
  • 12 enquiries via the website and hotline including journalist requests and invitation for SLSW presence at events.
  • 13 pieces of media coverage (+160%) including X Ray, S4C, Wales Online, The Sun and Sky News – 18,591,748 OTS.
  • 15 target stakeholders engaged with toolkit (+50%) plus South Wales Police and X Ray shared messages.
  • 548,200 digital impressions, 4,740 clicks and eight good quality conversions (+300%).
  • 150,400 OTS from digivans.
  • 168 new followers (+68%), 121,666 (+12k%) and 989 engagements (+889%).

Two new leads generated intelligence to support a current investigation on criminal money lending. The first ever Welsh specific research formulated the next phase of the campaign targeting young people, which the research identified as the most susceptible to illegal money lending in Wales.

How to find us

Our Address

Cowshed Communication
1st Floor, Park House,
Greyfriars Rd,
Cardiff CF10 9AF

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