Hit or Miss? Wonga commissions documentary about its customers

Controversial loans company Wonga has commissioned a filmmaker to make a documentary about its customers as it looks to respond to criticism that it exploits vulnerable consumers.

12 Portraits: the documentary is also billed as Real Wonga Stories
12 Portraits: the documentary is also billed as Real Wonga Stories

Gary Tarn, a Bafta-nominated director, will explore the "real stories" behind why people borrow money from Wonga. He insisted he had been given complete creative freedom by the company.

Wonga said the film, called '12 Portraits', would be a "modern, authentic and relevant portrait of British life today". Filming began in July and the finished work is due to be released later this year.

How I See It

George Godsal, MD corporate, MSL London

Wonga had to do something to switch the dialogue. It’s the lightning rod for payday lenders and the Archbishop of Canterbury wants it out of business. In reputation rebuilding terms, you don’t get many bigger mountains to climb.

Wonga executives will be acutely aware that broad public adoration is unattainable, but they can rightly desire a more balanced hearing. Love them or hate them, commissioning a film from Bafta-nominated director Gary Tarn to tell the story of how some customers benefit is brave.  

Giving him free rein is risky, but seems a worthwhile trade for more credible storytelling. I’d caution against over-promotion at this stage – particularly given Tarn himself describes the project as "just a series of simple portraits of ordinary people".

But Wonga is right to take steps to create its own platform to spark consideration, rather than being at the mercy of continual bashing.

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