Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Long reads
24 October 2005updated 27 Sep 2015 3:00am

Daytime television’s enticing message

By Michael Gibson

If British people are stacking up debt it might have something to do with what they see on television, where for years personal finance firms have promoted their wares with the help of celebrities. Ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell, for example, is the face of Loans.co.uk, Carol Smillie smiles for Axa Sun Life and the famously numerate Carol Vorderman represents Firstplus.

These ads can promise a lot, aiming to “make your dreams a reality” in the case of Firstplus, or to leave you “flush with cash” (Axa) – a vision of borrowing that millions of indebted people would not recognise.

The loans business is highly regulated (and no doubt the celebrities are acting in good faith), but the ads are causing concern. Axa was fined last year for a “misleading” campaign involving Smillie, and the Financial Services Authority is reviewing the way equity release schemes are promoted.

Doubts about ads for consolidation deals were raised in parliament in January by Peter Pike, then the Burnley MP, who said of Vorderman: “People know her and her expertise in mathematics from her role in Countdown, so they listen and believe that she offers a way forward.” He continued: “They often do not realise what the small print says – that taking a consolidation loan might mean securing it with their homes.”

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
The future of gas
Taxing non-doms fairly would raise billions
The UK simply cannot afford to wait on climate change