Can a giant blue monster make people care about pensions?

21st October 2015


The Government has adopted a new tactic to get small companies to engage with pensions, rolling out a new series of adverts featuring a hairy monster called ‘Workie’ who represents the issue of workplace pensions

The TV campaign, which launches this evening, will warn entrepreneurs of their legal obligation  to offer a workplace pension to their employees.

The monster, who looks a bit like Sulley from Monsters Inc, follows people around, but they are oblivious to his presence and while the voiceover urges “don’t ignore the workplace pension”.

The Department of Work and Pensions may have learned from other financial brands who have employed furry characters to gain attention such as, whose adverts featuring Aleksandr Orlov the meerkat proved to be a marketing sensation, with toys of the baby Oleg character changing hands for considerable sums on eBay.

The Department says that “Workie, a striking physical embodiment of the workplace pension, will be seen visiting people in all sorts of work environments over the coming months, asking them not to ignore him.”

The first screening will take place in the middle of the primetime schedule tonight at 7.25pm between Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

The campaign comes as 1.8 million small and micro employers are being required to take action to automatically enrol their staff into a pension scheme as part of a process which began with the largest companies in 2012.

Pensions Minister, Baroness Altmann, says: “We have made great strides forward by automatically enrolling more than 5 million people into a workplace pension – now the challenge is to make sure hardworking people with every type of employer get to enjoy this major financial benefit.

“This is a fun and quirky campaign but behind it lies a very serious message. We need everyone to know they are entitled to a workplace pension – and we need all employers to understand their legal responsibility to their staff, but also to feel more positive about engaging with workplace pensions.”

Since 2012, more than 5.4 million workers have been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by almost 61,000 employers. By the time the process is complete in 2018, the Government estimates that around 9 million workers will either be newly saving or saving more into a workplace pension thanks to the policy.

The new campaign will include radio, print, online and outdoor advertising and will run for the remainder of this year and into 2016. It is being coordinated jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator.

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, says: “Automatic enrolment has been successfully introduced across the UK’s large and medium employers. This campaign aims to raise awareness amongst small and micro employers that they cannot ignore workplace pensions.

“Our website and the letters we send out to employers have been updated to ensure they have clear information that is relevant to them and helps them understand what they need to do, and when, to comply with the law.”

All qualifying employees of large and medium-sized firms are now automatically enrolled by their employer provided they are over the age of 22 and earn more than £10,000 a year.

This means that, as well as paying in themselves, their employer also makes a contribution to their financial future.

Figures show that only around 10% of people who are automatically enrolled are choosing to opt out, significantly fewer than was expected when the policy was first developed.

As a result the total amount that is expected to be saved each year by 2019/20 has been revised upwards to about £15 billion – more than a third more than the previous estimate of around £11 billion.

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