The Creative

Our very own creative expert, James Maxwell, explores how creativity could help boost pensions in exciting and engaging ways. Here’s the Creative’s point of view.

By James Maxwell on Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Pensions aren’t dull. We’ve just dressed them that way.

Everyone says pensions are mundane. Everyone says they’re low interest. They’re slow burn and frankly, dull – some say. But that’s just not true. The body language, styling and manner of voice we’ve given them is doing them no justice and are hiding a wonder underneath.

A way for everyone to pay themselves in the future? Brilliant. But we don’t portray them like that

Granted nobody would argue they are more exciting than new sneakers, a holiday or a new car. BUT pensions matter more. Way, way more. They deserve a regular look-see. Yet we’re communicating like they don’t – like they deserve to be ignored.

In the modern, digital, video-driven, bold-art-direction world, almost every other industry has taken on new design thinking, new styling, new ways of engagement and seen rewards in terms of interest.

Banking, once considered the most pinstriped and mundane of all, now sees brands like Monzo and Starling as status symbols to users and customers. People use the word LOVE when it comes to the Natwest banking app! I know I do. And still, generally, pensions have put on the same old brown smock of disinterest every day and wallflowered themselves.

So, how do we make pensions the belle of the ball through comms? Make them accessible. Make them memorable. Make them enjoyable!

One of the points Big Zuu made in the recent #pensionattention campaign was that he wanted people to realise that pensions were for everybody. And he’s right. We need to make the sector appeal to everybody. Even with auto-enrolment and more digitally available comms, people feel like pensions sit outside of their normal lives. They seem to live in a space and time in the obscure future.

So we need to use more simple everyday language in campaigns, give scenarios and stories that feel real and use photography, imagery and illustrations that are relatable.

No more ‘Vaseline on the lens’ shots that feel like a Dame Barbara Cartland novel cover.

Being memorable is key. And don’t you forget it.

And this comes from both designing for impact and from smart use of media and partnerships. We have to CATCH people’s eye among the Tik Toks for soda and the dancing pugs advertising mobile phones. How will you shape behaviour if you’re forgettable?

For example, it may seem simple, but pension letters and reminder emails literally disappear into the pile of bills and junk mail when they should be screaming red and yellow and pink and violet envelopes – the loudest of the loud, using imagery and stories as best we can.

One suggestion from our team was to use more memes – mainly because they had the ability to make people quickly relate, feel something and be memorable!

And finally on the list is a word serious creatives, earnest marketers, and highly professional clients can often forget…. ENJOYABLE.

All communications need to have an element of entertainment, humour, reward or just a grain of attention grabbing.

Yet, when it comes to pension comms, we are scared people will see these as flippant or not serious enough. Why can’t we have dancing pension pugs? Why can’t we use comedians, singers, artists and celebs more?

Also, we know it works, so why are we not gamifying interactions, like Apple or Fitbit have done with fitness? Everything from the colour schemes to the reward loops have tremendous impact on engagement and stickiness.

Head back to our main page and dive deeper into how we can shake up pensions together.

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