'Bringing glamour of drag scene to world of personal finance' - Behind the Campaign, ‘Money Positive’ for Experian UK

Karla Winch, consumer practice director at Brands2Life, discusses how a surprising talent choice helped Experian reach a new audience.

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

On behalf of Experian, we engaged RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’s reigning queen, The Vivienne, to break down social stigmas around discussing money troubles and help people take control of their finances. Drawing on The Vivienne’s past financial mistakes, we encouraged the nation to get ‘money positive’... and sign up to Experian’s new service, Experian Boost, in the process.

How did the idea come to being?

We were briefed to extend the reach of Experian Boost – a free service that could instantly boost your credit score – among young adults who would benefit from taking control of their finances. Our challenge was, firstly, to get this audience to understand why a healthy credit score is important, and secondly, position Experian Boost as the way to improve it.

What ideas were rejected?

We launched this campaign in February, mid-lockdown. To an extent, our approach was influenced by the restrictions – we needed an earned media execution that could not only be delivered remotely, but could hold its own during a busy, and unstable, news agenda.

That said, engaging authentic and relevant talent was the ideal way to talk to a hard-to-reach audience. Our biggest hurdle, requiring the most deliberation, was finding the perfect influencer - very few celebrities or influencers can credibly discuss their financial troubles, and even fewer are prepared to speak about their experiences honestly and publicly.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process

The entire planning and delivery process was a fully collaborative effort with the Experian team. Our client contact - Experian UK’s head of consumer PR & content, Rajan Lakhani - helped shape the narrative and, along with Experian experts, worked with us to unpick The Vivienne’s past mistakes and translate them into relatable and media-worthy stories.

We launched the campaign within six weeks of sign-off – and that included the development of her ‘get ready with me’ tutorial, with a difference (she showed us her drag transformation while opening up about her financial past) to engage her social followers. It was a monumental team effort that absolutely benefited from efficient project management and timely client feedback and approvals.

What were the biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?

In addition to the talent selection, our other challenge was ensuring that the Experian Boost mention and messaging came through in our coverage – a campaign credit at the end of an article would not have delivered the message penetration we needed.

We not only ensured that The Vivienne trialled Experian Boost but carefully explained its many benefits. This meant she could genuinely advocate for, and credibly discuss, the service in the context of her own financial struggles, as well as its role in helping her achieve her future financial goals.

How did you measure the results and what were they?

The campaign is still ‘live’ – just last week it was featured in The Sunday Times, and the paid social element will be underway shortly – but we’ve largely attributed the success to the quality media coverage, which contributed to Experian achieving its sign-up targets.

Our hero coverage came from a five-minute, live interview with The Vivienne on Channel 5 News on the day of launch, which was quickly followed by quality, dedicated features on the Mail Online, The Independent, The Big Issue and even the front-page lead on The i. Organic social content has been viewed by over 180,000 people, The Vivienne’s Instagram grid post delivered an impressive engagement rate of 9.46 per cent and the reaction from her followers was universally positive.

We successfully created an engaging and topical way that would deliver a serious message. By bringing the glamour of the drag scene, to the sometimes less glamorous but important world of personal finance, we could talk to an audience we’d have otherwise struggled to reach.

What’s the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

With season two of Drag Race UK airing during the campaign, we always knew The Vivienne’s appeal and topicality would garner media attention. However, from our perspective, the real success of this campaign can be attributed to the authenticity of The Vivienne’s story. Not to give too much away, but it’s the biggest lesson we’re taking forward as we develop our next Experian campaign.


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