The pensions minister has defended her automatic enrolment advertising campaign featuring a monster called Workie stating “Workie has been very successful.”
In an interview with FTAdviser, Baroness Ros Altmann said the Workie campaign was “quite a brave type of approach” from government.
Ms Altmann said: “It was meant to be eye catching. It was meant to be striking because otherwise I don’t know how you can be as sure as possible that people will take notice. If it was just a celebrity I’m not sure that would have done the trick, but we felt this was a lot more powerful.”
She added that “you don’t want to have too many of these characters”.
Her rejection of the suggestion that scare tactics were needed to kick start the nation saving enough for retirement led to Twitter users coming up with their own ways to make Workie work using the hashtag #whenworkieattacks.
Baroness Altmann said: “We’ve now moved on from January this year where the only people involved in auto-enrolment are the teeny employers, 30 and below, and many of them are one person employers - it is a completely different audience.
“You cannot take for granted that they will even know that auto-enrolment applies to them, nevermind know how to do it where to go for help or what’s involved.”
Baroness Altmann added many of those who need to be reached will be no more knowledgable or possibly even less knowledgeable than the employee themselves, so the campaign had to move from worrying about people staying in to addressing the employer, whoever they are, to let them know that auto-enrolment applies to them and how to get help.
“The concept was don’t assume that the employers will automatically know this. How do you capture their attention?
“A normal advert on pensions is not exactly going to be something that people automatically look at - if you are a busy person, if you are an employer, how are you going to reach that person and say ‘take notice, this may well apply to you, you need to check it out’?
“If you just mention the word pension it won’t do it.”
Baroness Altmann explained there were four different ideas under consideration and that the government tested what seemed to the best two, of which Workie was by far the most powerful.
She said: “Certainly from the follow ups we’ve been doing when we’ve just shown for example people an image of Workie with nothing else, it is incredible how many people immediately say ‘Oh that’s something to do with pensions’”.
“Now for a brand new campaign and a brand new image that nobody has ever seen and it could be confused with all kinds of toys and monsters and whatever else or general adverstising campaigns, to have been successful like that I’m told is really quite impressive.”