Recently I was asked to provide some text to be considered for inclusion in an AML awareness campaign – I’m not sure yet whether my contribution has been accepted but I will let you know. I was therefore already thinking about the benefits of such campaigns when I came across a news story from the other side of the world. “More than $1 million splashed on New Zealand anti-money laundering billboards” was the headline, and it revealed that since 2017 the NZ government has spent NZ$1.083 million (that’s about £565,000) on an AML campaign called “Keep Our Money Clean”, with its own campaign website. The timing is significant: the NZ AML family is being extended (lawyers, conveyancers and TSCPs came in on 1 July 2018, accountants on 1 October 2018 and estate agents on 1 January 2019, while HVDs and the NZ Racing Board will come in on 1 August 2019) and the campaign is intended to help those new entrants to educate their customers about the new AML obligations.
Not everyone is convinced that it has been money well spent. Right-wing NZ politician David Seymour thinks that the coalition government (of which his ACT party is not a part – just saying) has concentrated on the wrong thing: “A smarter approach would have been to finalise the details of the AML laws earlier. In reality, real estate agents only found out about the detail in November or December . They’re now reeling to get prepared, and a million dollar advertising campaign hasn’t helped matters at all.” On the other hand, Justice Minister Andrew Little says that it has worked: “Getting information out about what is happening, and most importantly why it’s happening, is working. I think the cost is pretty modest by comparison, and by and large the feedback is that it is doing what it was intended to do and people are getting their heads around [the AML implications].”
AML campaigns – like all advertising initiatives – are interesting projects. They need to be clear on their audience: are they targeting the regulated sector (like our “Flag It Up” campaign here in the UK) or the general public (like the – related – “Take Five to Stop Fraud” campaign)? Or are they a hybrid, as the NZ campaign seems to be: designed to help the regulated sector explain AML to the general public? Has any of you come across a particularly effective AML campaign – or perhaps an especially dreadful one? And what do you think of the very idea of these campaigns?