Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Pig Has It

Go onto Google Images, type in ‘pension’ and then see what comes up. Actually, I can tell you what comes up. Ignoring news stories, in the first 100 or so images there were 10 pictures of cash in a jar, 19 ‘beautiful couples’, 12 eggs in and out of baskets, 4 moneyboxes, 6 road signs and a few deckchairs. And twenty-three piggybanks. That's right. Twenty-three pigs.

Is that the best we can do?! Is that a good summary of our ability to convey ‘pensions’ in pictures? You see, if you go behind the picture on Google, to the sites, they almost all lead to providers, consultants and clients pension funds.

Surely we can be more imaginative than a piggy bank? If a picture paints a thousand words, aren’t we falling a bit short with coins in a jar? So come on AHC, Likeminds, Shilling, Ferrier Pearce and all you other pension communication companies…..not to mention the internal departments in actuarial firms…. where are the new ideas? What can we convey that doesn’t include a piggy bank held in the hands of a beautiful couple in a deckchair under a road sign?!

1 comment:

  1. A pig in a poke...

    I couldn't agree more, Ralph. It's bad enough that the pensions world is afflicted by jargon but when the visuals we use fall into being cliches too, what hope do we have of engaging people.

    From my advertising days, the whole point of an image was to convey some meaning. It wasn't there to act as a filler or to "pretty something up". That's just lazy design.

    The visual image is such a powerful form of communication we are missing a trick when we don't spend time and effort thinking about it. So what should we do?

    First, we should design with some wit and humour. For example, I'm sure you remember the front cover we designed for Emap's Flexiplan pension plan that used the optician's eye-chart showing, in ever decreasing size, the letters that spelt out, "If you can't see the point of joining Flexiplan then it's not your eyes that need testing."

    Second, the image should work with the text. When
    we describe what we do we talk about ideas, words and pictures and it's the conjunction of these three things that makes powerful communication.

    It's a bit of a soapbox subject of mine but too often in the world of pensions we shy away from the emotional responses that people have towards this subject. We shouldn't be afraid to use images that provoke a reaction, even if it is one based on love, fear, sadness, hope and desire. Soap powders do so why shouldn't pensions?

    Finally, one of the problems with the images you've rightly criticised is that they are all static. The moving image, particularly when used with music, has a greater power to persuade and engage.

    A pig in a poke I believe means a deal that is accepted without being examined properly first and that's exactly what these images are - an easy fix with little thought applied to them.

    Nick Throp

    like minds