The six-year-old had a lesson on banking today from a well-known Southern Hemisphere bank. Let’s call it the Absolutely Solid Bank, for argument’s sake. She came home, all excited about a cash-gobbling monster stomping through stories with a salutary message: ‘Zoom to your needs, and wait for your wants.’ No argument from me thus far.
But then we argued…sorry, strongly discussed…the need for her to then wear a tattoo emblazoned with the brand of the bank that was a freebie at the end of the lesson. She loved the colour, the idea of the tattoo. And, apparently, everyone will have them on tomorrow…
What got to me most was the way the kids were being branded (albeit temporarily) by a corporate logo, sucked in by a shiny, ‘cool’ ploy (not to mention the looong list of crazy chemicals that are in these stick-on tats). So I resorted to bribery (money in her piggy bank in exchange for the tattoo. Fair, sensible, even ironic swap). If the bank wants to be altruistic, then the learning experience is fine. Otherwise, perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to come and market themselves to primary children.
I love the message of saving, and I believe strongly in the value of financial literacy. But not at the expense of learning about the value of information literacy and the power of advertising. A hard lesson to learn when the person is teaching the first, but exploiting the second.
And when they come armed with shiny bribes.