Behind the Idea: Crushing deadlines for the Financial Conduct Authority

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Remember when Hollywood actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had to self-destruct in Terminator 2: Judgement Day? The scene has become so iconic that creative agency M&C Saatchi recently based a whole campaign on it for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In the 1991 movie, Arnie's T-800 character has to be detroyed to save the world and M&C's five funny ads see the action hero put in a similar position, this time to warn of the looming PPI claims deadline in the UK.

Below, creative team, Liam Campbell and Thom Farrall, expand on the concept, production process and why the message is important ahead of next week's judgement day.


What was the brief?

We were briefed by the FCA to tell the public that this is their final ever chance to claim money back before the PPI deadline on the 29 August 2019.  



How did the initial conversation go?

Initially we came up with a number of ideas that came at the brief from different angles. One involved Arnie looking for a new job now that PPI is finishing. So naturally he became a garden sprinkler. The other involved Arnie being reunited with his long-lost body.

But after speaking with our creative directors Dom [Moira] and Kieron [Roe], we felt the pressing idea was best at delivering both the message and comedy value. We then put our different ideas into concept testing and allowed our audience to decide what would work best. They agreed with us.


Tell us about the concept…

The idea came from the finality of the deadline. If this is the end of PPI, then this should be the end of the FCA’s animatronic head of Arnie (Well, sort of). So, to emphasise the pressing nature of the PPI deadline we decided to slowly squash Arnie’s head in a giant hydraulic press, ramping up the pressure the closer we get to the deadline. And with 29 August date being front and centre throughout the campaign, there’s no chance you could miss it.



What was the production process like and the biggest challenge?

Initially, we were briefed to write one TV ad to mark the end of the two-year campaign, but just to make it harder for ourselves we wrote five. Also, getting the right level of ‘squash’ on Arnie’s head was a challenge, not just visually but robotically, as we had to ensure we could still control his animatronic features.  


What’s the main message of the campaign and why is it important?

The deadline is the 29 August 2019, and this is the public’s last ever chance to complain about PPI. so, C’MON! DO IT NOW!



Why will the final assets resonate with consumers?

We’re well aware that people are tired of PPI. They’ve heard about it for years, so in some respect by finishing the campaign in this way we’re essentially giving people a satisfying end to PPI, and hopefully making them laugh along the way. 


What’s the most interesting thing or unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through?

The robotic head of Arnie has always been the star of the FCA PPI adverts. He catches people’s attention and the fact that we are now squashing him in a Terminator 2 fashion should get heads turning.



How long did it take to make the ads?

From concept to air, this final part of the campaign took about six months.


What do you hope the campaign achieves?

That when the deadline’s gone everyone feels like they had the chance to complain about PPI.


How satisfying is it to have released the work?

This is the biggest campaign that we, as a creative team, have worked on to date - so it’s been pretty satisfying to see the squashed Arnie head out in the real world after all the hard work that’s gone into it.




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