Quirky campaigns in financial literacy

June 17, 2019 | 09:47
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University students are coming up with creative ways to promote financial literacy in Vietnam, aiming to help their peers get a hold of their personal finances.
quirky campaigns in financial literacy
Practical Money Skills contest by global payments firm Visa in collaboration with the CCVSA

Financial literacy, defined as the skills and knowledge of spending, saving, and investing money, is gaining ground in recent years as the young Vietnamese begin to understand the impact of money management on their short and long-term goals.

Unlike previous generations, millions of Vietnamese young adults now have a wider range of ways they can spend, save or invest thanks to the country’s quick economic growth, openness to foreign investment, and the expansion of the local financial sector. It goes without saying that whoever is in better charge of their personal finances will gain an edge in their adult lives.

The challenge, however, is that “money talks” tend to be dry and full of jargon – which means they cannot easily capture the attention of young adults who might prefer to watch a new sci-fi blockbuster or check their social media. Financiers, who tend to dress up in crisp suits and have an air of formality around them might also not appeal to fun-loving millennials.

One effective way to tackle this is recruiting the help of the young minds themselves. This solution comes with several advantages: students understand very well the issues that their own peers have when it comes to money, and they can also think of out-of-the-box methods, combined with the right language, to convey the message. As a tech-savvy generation, students are well-versed with social media, celebrity endorsement, and smartphones, which is crucial to spreading information to their peers.

A recent example is the Practical Money Skills contest by global payments firm Visa in collaboration with the Central Committee of the Vietnam Students’ Association (CCVSA). The goal is to make financial literacy a practical and fun activity for Vietnam’s millennials. As part of this ongoing contest, judges tasked students with devising campaigns to promote different aspects of financial literacy to their peers. The theme of this year’s contest is “Money burns a hole in my pocket”, which addresses unnecessary spending, online shopping security, and credit management.

quirky campaigns in financial literacy
Careful spending and setting a realistic budget are deployed by many teams in this year’s contest

Practical Money Skills contest

Each team, which consists of three university students, is encouraged to engage the help of advisors, including lecturers, businesspeople, or student leaders for their project. All teams are expected to come up with creative ways to address their one chosen issue, from the big idea to execution tactics via both online and offline channels.

So far, the contest has received a plethora of great ideas that has impressed the judges. In the first week of the contest, for example, student Ha Nguyen Phuong Thanh was highlighted for her efforts to help peers understand the need of careful spending and setting a realistic budget. The basis of Thanh’s campaign is to direct students’ frivolous spending on branded items to more practical purposes.

“Instead of asking students about what brand their clothes are, I want to get them to focus on how much they spend on a daily basis. Each student will be encouraged to take photos with a sign that says ‘I spent an X amount of money today’ and gifted with a toolbox that includes a notebook and a daily expense wish list,” said Thanh. Her ideas of execution range from a viral video to booths at university ­campuses.

Another group, called Team Generation Z, reveled in retro graphics that have gained popularity in recent years. Using patriotic language and images characteristic to propaganda posters, the team asked Vietnamese millennials if they are truly ready to be “the next owners of the beloved country”. Generation Z reckons the answer is no – given that young people are more consumed with how to pay for their daily expenses and tuition.

“Our goal is to reach 3,000 young students on our online channels, and hosting mini-shows at 10 public areas for 1,000 attendees in total. Additionally, we will also launch the Me – Money – Management seminar,” said the team.

A team named TPP, meanwhile, used two primary images in their campaign: One is the “magical hammer” that can destroy all kinds of misconceptions about credit cards and one is the “protection helmet” that protect students from debt. TPP also plans to run workshops and a social media fan page, together with staging a flash mob that is intended to go viral online.

A fourth team, comprising of three students from Hanoi University of Industry, is more concerned with how to protect inexperienced students from leasing scams. According to the team, university students are often tricked into signing contracts that put them at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to utility bills.

“We will enlist the help of senior students, who have more experience in house leasing. These volunteer counsellors will assist new students in finding apartments, negotiating, and settling disputes,” said the team. The team also wanted to make a video highlighting the plights of students who were scammed by landlords.

Transforming social situations

Another aspect of student life, addressed by Team Lonely from Hanoi, is dating costs. The problem, according to this team, is that students have no real income yet dating can cost a pretty penny, from expensive gifts on special occasions to eating out. As a result, actions that are meant to be romantic become a burden to both sides, and young adults often feel lost about how they can balance their budget and love life.

With this insight, Team Lonely aspires to help university couples manage their finances better and re-direct the couples’ focus away from materialistic ideas. Specifically, team members would advise young lovers to pursue meaningful activities that can help them with their careers and future life together, instead of expensive gifts or fancy dinners.

“We want to partner with Internet celebrities and influencers who can help us spread the message to their followers. Half of the budget will be spent on a viral video, about one-third on influencer marketing, one-fifth on roadshows, and the rest will be for logistics,” said Team Lonely.

According to the contest’s judges, with their digital skills, creativity, and strong determination, students can turn what seems to be a boring concept into practical and robust campaigns directly targeting their peers. It once again shows the necessity of engaging young generations in Vietnam’s quest of promoting financial literacy.

By Phuong Nguyen

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