Asset management company, Futuregrowth, recently launched it’s Good Money campaign. Money, and how it’s used, and abused, is a subject of enormous interest right now. With the Occupy Wall Street movement spreading globally, the ANCYL marching for economic freedom here in South Africa, debt crises and bailouts, it’s a good time to talk about good money.
Futuregrowth has always stood by its philosophy of ethical investment. But now it is talking not just to investors – those who HAVE money – but to ordinary people too. It’s about changing perceptions that money is the ‘root of all evil’ and demonstrating that sometimes money can be used for good.
“Protestors have ‘occupied’ Wall Street, demonstrating the beginnings of a shift in American perceptions about money and in South Africa this is an even more pertinent issue, given the huge sums that are squandered irresponsibly or lost to corruption instead of being channelled into solutions for the social problems we face,” says Futuregrowth marketing head, Michele Usher.
The Good Money campaign highlights Futuregrowth’s commitment to money that is made ethically, from principled business practices and makes a positive contribution to society.
How does the campaign ‘foster genuine understanding’ of Futuregrowth’s philosophy? What were the elements that would drive that understanding?
Good Money means both tangible financial returns as well as money that impacts positively on a societal and environmental level i.e. Capital with a Conscience. By using such a simple term we were able to strip away the jargon so often used by financial companies and simply illustrate the Futuregrowth philosophy. The concept is human, relatable and understandable to the ordinary South African. For the first time people are able to have a conversation around money as opposed to just being told about it.
With an unexpected call to action – to engage and not to buy a product we were able to disrupt the thought pattern of the public and get them to think about money in a new light. I think this is why people have so enjoyed interacting with us on this campaign.
One of the aims of the campaign was to disrupt what people think they know about money; we asked people their thoughts on how money can and should be used as a tool for social change. This was the beginning of initiating people to the Futuregrowth philosophy. We used tactical activations, online conversations, print media, viral videos and online banners to drive this.
The campaign moved into a second phase where we answered the question of “What is Good Money” by showing examples of how Futuregrowth practises Good Money. With articles, videos and examples on the blog site we are illustrating that Good Money does indeed exist.
The journey does not end there. There is a third aspect to the campaign that kicks off next year that will now ask South Africa to show us how they would implement the philosophy of Good Money. They will have to work with the same guidelines that we at Futuregrowth use every day.
It is important to note that this is not a once off campaign or an innovative gimmicky communications exercise, this is the start of a long-term brand engagement journey that we want to take consumers and Futuregrowth’s clients on. Through their journey with Futuregrowth and the Good Money Platform we want to create more accessibility, relevance, interaction and true brand engagement with the Futuregrowth brand. As human beings we don’t build long lasting and trusted relationships overnight – we ascribe to the same sentiment when it comes to brand building.
I noticed the ad in The Big Issue. Is that part of your drive, to use a magazine that is founded on the principles of a social business?
Yes, we partnered with The Big Issue as we believe they are a publication that embodies the characteristics of Good Money. The partnership allowed us to give an example of Good Money and reach a readership that is already socially conscious. The whole campaign is about doing more with money – by advertising with The Big Issue we weren’t simply advertising but also investing in a social cause.
Can you unpack further how the social media campaign was executed? Has it delivered on its ROI, and how did you measure the campaign?
The social media component of the campaign was based on establishing a Facebook community that could provide an informal platform for further discussion around the key campaign questions and concepts and broaden the reach of the online media campaign and offline activations.
A Twitter profile was created to engage in dialogue with individuals who are already speaking about campaign concepts. The Twitter profile is also a broadcast channel for local and international news that aligns with the key campaign concepts and a resource for people who want to know more about Good Money in a broader context. Both platforms were used to drive traffic to the blog site, where the real, meaningful dialogue is taking place.
An online reputation management (ORM) tool helped us track the impact of our online interactions and provided us with an evaluation tool to see which types of content had the greatest reach and impact. The ORM tool also helped us gauge what the sentiment of the online public is toward the campaign and the Good Money brand, which allowed us to make adjustments in real time to maximise the effectiveness of our online engagement.
This is only the beginning of our campaign, and we are doing something quite new and innovative for the category and to date we have seen very positive responses to the Good Money initiative. As we see it as a long term project we will continue to measure the success of the campaign by more than just facebook likes or membership numbers, but rather through the quality and quantity of the content that has been generated through the platform.
But, thus far, both through tracking of online click through statistics as well as blog activity, the campaign has exceeded our conservative expectations. We knew that we were starting something new and different – starting a social movement even – and accordingly, we need the campaign to grow as organically as possible.
What were the ‘public interactions’ you used to talk to people?
We held a variety of activations in the main cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. We had Good Money teams hit the streets to interact with people and discuss their thoughts of money, how it can be used for good and encouraged them to think about how money can be used in a different way. These answers were filmed and added to our blog for people to share.
We spent time with business owners discussing with them the importance of social entrepreneurship and the need to upskill our work force and grow the economy from within our borders. This will also be shared on our blog in the coming weeks.
We conducted more formal activations within Canal Walk and Sandton City where we had a special audio activation which played an audio track to shoppers who neared our stand. The use of innovative technology allowed us to deliver an audio message to shoppers in an intriguing and memorable way. What was great about the activation was that it made use of technology that people had not seen or heard before. We had great interest bringing a wide variety of people to our stand where they were encouraged to participate in the activation by either being interviewed on camera or blogging on site.
It was amazing to see how many people out there have some really unique ideas and concepts that offer alternative ways of using money for the upliftment of our world.
Where did you put your online media spend in terms of the media plan?
The media spend was quite broad because we wanted to reach a wider target audience than just the financial gurus. We focused our spend on the big networks such as 24.com to reach a mass audience coupled with the more focused sites such as Mail & Guardian, memeburn and Financial Mail.
To run a campaign such as this, you would obviously need to be able to prove that in fact you do invest money responsibly. Can you give us some examples and an idea on what your due diligence process entails?
We invest in an ethical and responsible way that puts our clients first, with fairness and transparency a key part of our operating culture.
We have a fiduciary culture and ethos that stresses our role in looking after people’s savings. This is backed up by comprehensive compliance and governance processes that are too detailed to cover here. However I can give you an example: Conflicts of interest have been prevalent in our industry and society as a whole. Futuregrowth took a stand several years ago regarding the receipt of Christmas gifts from suppliers, brokers etc, Instead of individuals keeping the gifts, we auction them off with the money raised going to charity.
Other examples of how Futuregrowth practises Good Money:
- We deliver investment performance that adds value to our retirement fund members’ portfolios. Returns table and TDI report available on request.
- We have a number of socially responsible investment products that deliver social impact and good returns.
- We are committed to responsible investing (RI) principles, refer to our RI policy statement, and we have a dedicated RI/ESG (environment, social and governance) specialist to drive this within the organisation. We are signatories to the UN’s Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI) and fulfilling our obligations thereto diligently. Endorsers of CRISA (Code of responsible investing in SA).
- We actively challenge the industry and bond markets to develop fair and transparent practices in the best interests of our clients. We work with ASISA (Association for savings and investments SA) to promote industry causes. Collaborate with CFA SA to promote best practice in investment analysis, fund management and ethics.
- We hold ethics workshops in collaboration with the ASISA and CFA
- We have an active and engaged Corporate Social Investment committee and staff.
Does the campaign have an international reach or is it a purely South African drive?
The campaign has focused on what South Africans think and feel about money but because of the online nature of the campaign as well as the topical subject matter we have seen international visitors on our Facebook page. This campaign addresses a global concern and with the world’s eyes focused on money and how it can be used as a tool for social change it is perfectly timed to join the conversations already happening.
For the ad agency: Why was it such a rewarding campaign to come up with?
This was a brave campaign for an asset management company; we have broken many category norms and ventured into unchartered waters. A campaign of this nature is flexible, it grows and changes daily according to the response from our audience. We couldn’t be happier that Futuregrowth chose to venture into this space with us.
It has been equally rewarding to be a part of a campaign that tackles an issue that is pertinent to our country and to global economics. It has allowed us to speak people from across the country and we have engaged in really meaningful conversations. It is always great to see South Africans excited and passionate about ideas that could potentially change the way we do things.
We are building up to something big here and can’t wait for the next leg of the campaign to kick off in 2012!
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