PR campaign launches to warn consumers on debt

The Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards Institute have

teamed up for a PR campaign to warn consumers about debt.

The campaign was launched this week to coincide with the TSI's annual

National Consumer Week, which this year is themed around debt.

Action is needed, according to the two bodies, as UK consumer debt has

reached an all time high of £700bn, £571bn of which is tied

up in mortgages.

The campaign, called Keep Debt Under Control, involves media relations

running alongside advertising and direct marketing.

The OFT's side to the campaign is being handled in-house and is led by

director of communications Mike Ricketts, head of publications Sue Cook

and head of news Mark Kram.

Kram said: 'The message is to ensure that debt doesn't spiral out of

control, and to offer information. This will carry on beyond the

National Consumer Week event.'

Media Link was hired to handle VNR work for the OFT, while the TSI's

media relations work is being handled by agency Storm.

The campaign focuses on three areas - to make sure consumers don't over

extend themselves when entering into a credit agreement, to shop around

and not get caught out by excessive interest rates and to get impartial

advice about debt problems.

According to figures from the Citizen's Advice Bureaux, nearly a quarter

of those with serious debt problems failed to seek expert help for up to

two years.

The OFT's communications function was restructured earlier this year,

leading to the appointment of Ricketts to the top PR role.

He joined after serving as the interim and first director of

communications at the Greater London Authority, where he set up its

first communications function.

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