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Nothing to hide?

A new advertising campaign is challenging the product transparency of South Africa’s financial institutions, and educating consumers in the process. The #NothingToHide hashtag has been popping up all over the media, prompting consumers to question just how much local credit providers are keeping from them when it comes to Credit Life Insurance pricing and Terms & Conditions. The campaign, developed by Yalu Financial Services, a credit life insurance provider underwritten by Old Mutual Alternative Risk Transfer, is challenging South Africa’s dominant financial brands to become more open about their products so customers are clear about every detail of the contract.

Credit Life Insurance covers borrowers against their debt in the case of retrenchment, disability or death. This type of insurance is often (but not always) legally required for certain types of debt and is generally provided by the same financial institution offering the loan. ‘Borrowers don’t know much about it,’ said Tlalane Ntuli, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Yalu. ‘But the reality is that every South African has the right to choose their Credit Life Insurance provider, and the fees charged for these policies can vary dramatically. If you don’t know how much you’re paying every month for Credit Life Insurance, it’s possible that you are paying the maximum amount.’

Yalu entered the South African market in 2018 to challenge this status quo. The brand offers consumers a seamless five-minute online take-up process that allows them to consolidate their different Credit Life Insurance policies into one, saving considerably on monthly premiums. Yalu has enjoyed significant media coverage since its launch – much to the discomfort of local banks. ‘We expected credit providers to put up some resistance, but we were still surprised by how much they have tried to undermine the process,’ said Ntuli. ‘Often this happens at the expense of the consumer, who remains in the dark as to their options.’

The Yalu #NothingToHide campaign was developed by advertising agency Think Creative Africa and has two phases to it – an unbranded teaser message which ran for two weeks, followed by branded messaging delivered via radio, billboards and street pole adverts in key locations in Gauteng, supported by eye-catching social media content and digital ads. The campaign messaging prioritises two key ideas: the need for greater product transparency from banks, along with better consumer education as to how more obscure financial products, such as Credit Life Insurance, work. ‘Product transparency and consumer education go hand in hand,’ says Ntuli. ‘Only when consumers are aware of how murky things are and how much money they are potentially losing will they demand greater transparency from banks – and only then will Credit Life Insurance providers be forced to improve.’

Yalu isn’t simply challenging banks to be more transparent, it’s also setting the example with a series of radical innovations, including holding a literally transparent, public Yalu Manco meeting in an audio boosted glass boardroom at a mall in Johannesburg. The meeting will also be aired live on Facebook and Instagram. This aspect of the Yalu #NothingToHide campaign has been developed in partnership with fast rising communications agency, Msuku Media, and will see members of the public watch and interact with Yalu executives as they make key strategic decisions.‘It’s too easy to call for change, yet sit back and do nothing yourself,’ concludes Ntuli. ‘At Yalu we see this campaign as our opportunity to set a new transparency benchmark in the South African financial sector. From strategic decisions through to product pricing and the way brands choose to communicate with consumers, change is very obviously required in our financial sector. We’re delighted to be the ones leading the process.’

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