FCA calls for Afterpay ad to be discontinued

FCA

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) is calling for a buy now pay latervideo advertisementwhich features actor Rebel Wilson to be pulled.

One scene depicts Ms Wilson sitting at a table speaking to a small child, saying “if credit cards and cash had a baby you could pay it over time without ever paying interest”.

“This ad is a step too far,” said Fiona Guthrie, the CEO of FCA.

“It minimises the risks of using buy now pay later products and the fact she is talking to a young child, explaining a credit product, is very disturbing,” Ms Guthrie said.

Financial counsellors are seeing an increasing number of people with buy now pay later debt. People think they’re harmless, but the reality is they are a form of credit and should be treated that way.

“That’s why we are writing to Ad Standards, the body overseeing the advertising industry’s self regulatory codes, to make a complaint about the ad. We want it discontinued as soon as possible,” Ms Guthrie said.

This ad is one of several celebrity focused campaigns currently used by various buy now pay later providers.

“Why these celebrities want to associate themselves with a product that can cause such harm is beyond us,” Ms Guthrie said.

“ASIC’s 2020 report found that 1 in 5 people are missing payments. It also found that as a result some people are cutting back, or going without essentials, such as food.”

“These slick and expensive campaigns only serve to lull consumers into using buy now pay later more. There is a high risk of getting into debt, especially if you are using the product multiple times or have more than one account.”

A recent NAB Consumer Insight Report found:

  • Nearly one in five Australians have buy now pay later debt.
  • 26% of 18 – 29-year-olds have buy now pay later debt.
  • A third of Australians have two accounts, 12% hold three accounts and one in twenty in have four or more accounts.

“It’s time for these products to be subject to the same laws as other forms of credit. They need to be regulated under the National Credit Act,” said Ms Guthrie.


Advertiser Name:  

AfterPay  

Advertised Product or Service 

Finance/Investment  

Advertisement Description 

In a 30-second television commercial launched by Afterpay, actor Rebel Wilson tells a young girl  using the service means they will never have to pay interest. 

Advertisement Objection Reason  

First, Afterpay goes too far by including children in this advertisement. Afterpay is not available for people under the age of 18 years. Rebel Wilson however explains the product to a child in  these terms “if credit cards and cash had a baby you could pay it over time without ever paying  interest”. It would not be acceptable to explain the benefits of personal loans or credit cards to  children in an advertisement and it should not be acceptable in this case. The use of children is  gratuitous and inappropriate.  

Second, the advertisement does not explain how the product actually works. What Ms Wilson  doesn’t say is that if you miss any of Afterpay’s instalment payments, you will incur late fees.  Afterpay’s website explains that “late fees are capped at 25 per cent of the purchase price”. 

Third, the advertisement glosses over the risks and harms of the product. These products cause  significant financial stress to large numbers of the people who use them. A 2020 ASIC report  found that 20% of Buy Now Pay Later customers have delayed payments of essential costs – including food – in order to pay back their BNPL debts. 

We do not believe the advertisement has been produced with “a sense of social responsibility”,  nor is it in line with community expectations about what is appropriate marketing, particularly  in relation to including children. We urge Ad Standards to review this advertisement and ensure  it is discontinued from all platforms in Australia as soon as possible.  

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