I’ve just had a rather laughable call from my publisher. It seems someone has complained to the advertising standards association about its use of the phrase ‘only professional Money Saving Expert’ in its poster advert for my book (see the poster itself here). I wasn’t surprised as I’d read someone was planning to do this in a small discussion by about two people on another money website’s chat forum, berating me for using the term ‘only professional’.
As it happens others in that discussion then soundly berated them for such ridiculous small mindedness and if the recommendation system of that site is anything to go by the vast majority agreed.
However the complaint’s prompted me to write on the genesis of the term. It actually happened while I worked at Simply Money TV back in 2000. We tried to come up with a term that encompassed the philosophy of the info I was delivering which was purely a “cutting bills without cutting back, a pure best value??? idea. It’s not thrift, that’s something different, and so MoneySaving was the term. At the time we checked it was unused elsewhere and this remained largely so until perhaps a couple of years ago.
Since the huge growth of this website, and as my personal media profile has increased, that’s changed. In the last year websites such as the Motley Fool and This is Money have started Money Saving sections and it’s started to become used in newspapers too. Then again as imitation is the best form of flattery, I take it as a nice compliment.
Recently when reading through my own biog I actually deleted the “only professional??? from this website. I doubt even one person actually bought the book because of the word “only???. Hopefully they did it because it’ll help them save cash. So I’ve said to my publisher, don’t bother arguing, it really isn’t an issue, the advert’s ended anyway, and we’ve all got better things to do with our time.
It’s funny how names always cause a problem. I often have it with TV programmes; I like to be introduced as Martin Lewis, Creator of MoneySavingExpert.com for obvious reasons. Yet if you’re contracted to a programme this can’t happen – and they always make up their own terms (some use UK’s only Money Saving Expert too), however I have about as much power over this as Frankie Detorri does over Frank Bruno.
Often I still get called a “Financial Adviser??? something I most definitely am not, and would never want to claim to be. This can happen even after prior agreement of title. It’s often because the people in the graphics department make assumptions and change the title for homogeneity – this has happened on Watchdog and ITV News amongst others – misunderstanding that I’m a journalist and not an adviser. However once you’re on air, it’s too late (I sit there and quietly seethe).
Yet while I smile at the bizarre nature of the complaint, what saddens me is that someone decided to make a complaint in itself. I perhaps shouldn’t write this, but then again it’s my blog and my chance to be honest. My aim is to try and build the research and collectivist resources that companies take for granted, but this time on the side of consumers. To do this I set this site up and have unabashedly ensured it is free of advertising and totally free to use and that the editorial is never compromised in any way by financial considerations.
I believe this site is having an impact. Over 1,000,000 people visited it last month, and 470,000 receive the weekly email. I know some company product managers and press officers now take into account the MoneySaving reaction on how to consider consumer behaviour. And you know what? I’m hugely proud of it. Yet even though it’s doing good work, because of that publicity and as my profile increases, someone has decided it is time to ‘have a go’ and ‘bring him down to size’. It’s exasperating and slightly depressing. Maybe they would like me to go commercial, and start doing adverts to secured loan companies – then they’ll have something to complain about.