28 Feb 2014

Ideas Bank: Money Laundering

At Don’t Panic London our little minds are always buzzing around and thinking of new ideas, even when we don’t have to. It seems to be an instinct. It’s in our make-up.
So that these brilliant products of mental activity don’t go to waste, we fold them up and deposit them into the Ideas Bank, where we pick a couple out every now and then to show off to you guys.

Client: An international NGO campaigning to end the abuse of anonymous shell companies, along with other organisations.

Aim: To create a shareable video with infographics that informs the public about the problem of secret company ownership, money laundering and the cost to humans this causes. To help bring a stop to this global issue.

Idea: The Laundrette
An instantly recognisable parody of the classic 1985 Levi’s ad, highlighting how easy it is to wash away all traces of identity while laundering money.

Levi's 1980s - money laundering

We open looking through a glass door onto a London street. A man in a sharp suit and sunglasses carrying a briefcase walks up to the door. To the opening of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’, the man opens a door and walks into a laundrette. He walks down the line of washing machines, inspecting them.

These washing machines are labelled Delaware, Jersey, Bermuda and The Kamen Islands. He stops, raises an eyebrow and takes off his sunglasses, revealing he is actually a well-known celebrity. He starts to remove his clothes and put them in the machine in a direct parody of the iconic Levi’s advert. When he removes his boxers a censorship message obscures his penis – ‘For use on taxpayers.’
“Taking my cash to another place
Where the government can’t find no trace,”

Finally he opens his briefcase and stands at the machine, pouring stock certificates, bearer bonds and cash into it, in an impossible stream of wealth from such a slim case.
“It took me by surprise I must say
How easy it was to get away.”

Ideas - Breaking Bad, money laundering

We cut to the front panel of the machine, zoomed in on a digital read-out (things have moved on since 1985). In big lettering, perhaps scrawled on masking tape over the display, we see the words CHOOSE TAX AVOIDANCE PROGRAMME.
“Don’t you know that
I moved it with a click online?”
He turns the dial through a number of choices – Offshore Trust, Private Foundation, International Business Corporation before selecting Anonymous Shell Company. The washing machine lights up ‘No ID Required.’
“Set up a shell in the Cayman Isles
Oh I moved it so it wasn’t mine.”
“Total Cost: $255 Billion lost US tax revenue from wealthy individuals” appears on the screen explaining how easy it is for wealthy individuals to establish anonymously owned shell companies and how much this costs the taxpayer.

He removes his suit from the machine. It is now pure white. The camera frames his body while he pulls on the suit, his head out of shot. We see him open a different brief case and a flood of money pours out of the machine into it.
We cut to a shot from outside as he walks away. A long queue of incredibly wealthy people dressed in suits, furs, Saudi robes and African army uniforms snakes down the street.