Convincing people to look after their future selves with pensions is a huge comms challenge for DWP

I can barely plan what I'm having for dinner tomorrow, let alone plan for 20 or 30 years into the future.

Audience research tells us people think pensions are boring and simply too far away to think about, writes Gillian Hudson
Audience research tells us people think pensions are boring and simply too far away to think about, writes Gillian Hudson
So when we consistently hear audience research telling us people think pensions are boring and simply too far away to think about, it rings true.

Social psychology research suggests that most people think of their future selves as an entirely separate person from their present selves. 

So thinking about pensions and saving for the future might feel a bit like giving your hard earned cash to some passing acquaintance who has probably not even made it on to your Instagram follower list. 

You can find some fascinating research on why the brain works in that way here.

So when it comes to pension campaigns, where the goal is to get people to not only plan for that 'stranger', but also give them cash and generally care about them thriving, this presents a really thorny challenge.

The new workplace pensions campaign, which launches today on TV, radio, digital and outdoor, targeting all eligible employees, takes on that challenge by placing you and the future you side-by-side, working together.

It’s certainly a more positive view of the future than the one depicted in the new Hollywood film Downsizing, which portrays a rather more dystopian view of financial planning.

Our call to action, now running across the workplace pension campaign and the state pension, asks the public to ‘Get to know your pension’ – and bring that stranger in from the cold.

Thinking about pensions and saving for the future might feel a bit like giving your hard earned cash to some passing acquaintance who has probably not even made it on to your Instagram follower list

Gillian Hudson, head of pension campaigns, Department for Work and Pensions
And why have we retired our furry, blue friend Workie? Well, he’s earned it. 

As he ambles into the distance, 83 per cent of ad recognisers agree that saving into a workplace pension is a good thing for them, and 85 per cent of them say saving into a workplace pension is a normal thing to do (according to Ipsos Mori, March 2017).

Workie also did a good job waking up small and micro employers who might not even understand that they have a duty to provide a pension for their employees. 

Jo Cumbo, the FT’s pensions specialist, was especially prescient with her tweet on the day she first saw our weird creature: "Workie might look like a sloth who’s been paintballing but it might just engage an audience who otherwise would ignore their legal duty."

Workie made a hefty contribution to the overall policy success of the workplace pension, which to date has seen 8.7 million people saving into a workplace pension, and more than 800,000 employers meeting their duties.

In April 2018 contribution rates will rise for the first time since the policy was introduced, and will rise again in April 2019 – meaning more cash for that stranger you need to get to know.  

Hence our push for a different creative direction, this time with M&C Saatchi.

It’s not the first time the campaign has changed to meet the evolving challenges of scheme rollout. 

In 2012 the 'I’m in' campaign, led by Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis, launched the scheme to large employers to help ensure they complied with their legal duties. 

And Theo makes a return today as part of three celebrity advocacy videos, looking at priority sectors for participation: Theo representing retail; TV builder Tommy Walsh, construction, and First Dates star Fred Sirieix, hospitality.

So we hope this latest version of the campaign - ‘You work, your pension works’ - will strike a chord, and prompt people to think of their future self, as well as their current self.

Gillian Hudson is head of pension campaigns at the Department for Work and Pensions

Click here to subscribe to the FREE public sector bulletin to receive dedicated public sector news, features and comment straight to your inbox.

Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.

To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the public sector bulletin, email Ian.Griggs@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.