Standing Secure: Barbados’ 2022 Polymer Banknote Series

Product Owner: Central Bank of Barbados

Project Team

Sherri Bishop, Novaline Brewster, Octavia Gibson, Alvon Moore, Sharon Layne, Beverley Howell-Mayers, Pia Parris, Natasha Beckles, Che-Annika Mayers, Matthew Williams-Rawlins, Erskine Hinds (Central Bank of Barbados); Marniko Media, Barbados; Gareth Evans (De La Rue)

Date the Program was first implemented


Project Description

In 2022, the Central Bank of Barbados announced it would issue a new banknote series. This marked only the second redesign in its 49-year history of issuing the national currency, and the first time Barbadian banknotes would be printed on something other than paper.

There was therefore much to educate the public about, among them the rationale for the change, the benefits of polymer, the status of older series, the security features of the new series, and the relevance of cash in an era of digital payments.

Cash remains popular among Barbadians, either as their main way to pay or in conjunction with other forms of payment – the value of currency in circulation continues to grow annually, and was the equivalent of 9.8% of GDP in 2021. And a survey conducted during the campaign indicated that people who use cash regularly come from all age groups. As such, the campaign had to be broad-based to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Campaign objectives included awareness of the new series and why it was necessary; a neutral or positive perception of the new designs; and knowledge of the main security features.

The team understood that its messages would be competing in a cluttered media landscape, and as such, it could not take for granted that it would have Barbadians’ attention. It therefore made the decision to approach the campaign with a marketing mindset.

Countr(ies) where implemented


Describe the communication channels, media, format

Events: The Bank hosted an official launch to unveil the new banknote designs. It later participated in a roadshow to coincide with the notes going into circulation, which gave them a chance to interact with the public and get their reactions, and also organised several Know Your Money seminars.

Radio: The team booked segments on multiple radio stations to talk about the notes with leading announcers and deejays. It also ran spots on radio to answer questions the public had posed, and appeared on radio programmes when invited to do so.

Television: The Bank ran television commercials showcasing the notes and reminding the public when they would go into circulation.

Newspaper: Newspaper ads were used to show the designs and remind readers when the notes were going into circulation.

Social media: The Bank used Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter extensively throughout the campaign, with content consisting of videos, photos, infographics, and links to web articles.

Website: The Bank created a dedicated webpage as a central hub where visitors could find videos, images of the notes, FAQs, blog articles, and downloadable public education materials.

Point-of-Sale ads: The Bank ran short video ads on checkout screens at major supermarkets to catch people when cash was front of mind.

Printed materials: The Bank produced flyers, booklets, and posters outlining the new security features. They were also made available for download on the Bank’s website.

Creativity and innovation of design; and educational features of the program

The Bank largely opted to use a conversational rather than authoritative tone in its communications. The set at the launch featured lounge furniture rather than a desk or lectern, and speeches were kept to a minimum. The designs were then unveiled with a movie trailer-style video with dramatic music rather than narration.

Similarly, radio appearances were conversations rather than interviews.

The more relaxed tone gave the impression of speaking with the audience rather than at them, which complemented another strategy: to pre-emptively address potential concerns. The Bank used dramatizations of friends discussing the new notes, with the in-the-know one explaining the rationale for and benefits of the notes, including the security features. FAQ videos had a similarly relaxed feel, as did blog articles.

Consistency in tone was matched by consistency in the look and feel of the campaign, with all elements of the campaign using the same colour scheme.

Quality of the delivery channels of the engagement program

Events such as the official launch and the road show built excitement for the new series and allowed the public to feel like a part of the transition rather than a passive audience for it. They also generated media coverage, created photo opportunities, and provided content that could be repurposed and shared on the Bank’s social media platforms. The Bank used the roadshow to distribute branded giveaways, which pleased the public while at the same time getting visuals of the notes into people’s homes. The gift bags also included public education materials.

Social media was an especially valuable tool due to its flexibility. Video was used extensively as the Bank sought to acquaint the public with the design of the new banknotes and explain the security features, but it also shared press releases and blog articles, photos, infographics, and links to surveys.

It also made it possible for the Bank to get its messages out unfiltered. As an example, the Governor’s message announcing the new series went live on all of its platforms at the same time that the video release was issued to the media. Later in the campaign, it livestreamed the official launch on Facebook and YouTube.

The dedicated webpage served as a one-stop location for information about the new series. The page contains sections for videos, images, and security feature information, including downloadable materials, as well as updates, including press releases and blog articles.

Traditional media primarily played a supporting role in the campaign, due in large part to its prohibitive costs. Nevertheless, the Bank understood the importance of using these channels to reach some segments of the public, among them older Barbadians, and used television and newspaper advertising at key periods of the campaign. Radio, as the least expensive of these media was used more frequently. Given its limitations, in particular the lack of visuals, radio was used to explain the rationale for the change and explain the benefits of the new series as well as to build excitement for major events like the official launch and the first issue of the notes.

The Bank chose to use point-of-sale advertising because it made it possible to reach audiences at a time when cash was especially relevant. Using different 15-second ads, the Bank first showcased the designs of the notes along with advising when they would be going into circulation, then explained how to handle polymer notes, then outlined the different security features.

Know Your Money seminars and public education materials, perhaps the most traditional element of the campaign, were vital to achieving the Bank’s objective of familiarising the public with the security features.

Ease of public use and understanding (effectiveness) of the engagement

The Bank conducted a market research survey in September, six months after the new series was announced and three months before the notes went into circulation, and the results indicate that the Bank was achieving its objectives.

The survey found that 75% of respondents were aware of the new series; 54% knew the reason for the change; and 69% had seen the designs. Of those that had seen the designs, a plurality, 47%, liked them, 27% thought they were “okay”, and 23% said they were not concerned with the designs “as long as I can spend the notes”. Only 2% said they didn’t like them. Eighty-eight percent (88%) indicated that all the questions they had about the new series had been answered.

Anecdotally speaking, people have been hearing and understanding the messages. When someone on a call-in radio programme made an unfavourable comment about the notes, another person called in immediately to defend and praise them.

The Bank has also received positive feedback from attendees at the launch, participants at training sessions, and on social media. One Twitter user retweeted one of the Bank’s videos with the caption, “How slick is this? Looking forward to getting these new bills. I wasn’t keen on em at first, but the way @centralbankbb been rolling them out has made me a believer.”

This link will take you to a number of videos , questions and asnswers and so much more about the new notes.

Video used to unveil the series at the launch and later posted online.
  • Video used at the launch event to provide information about the new series. It was later posted separately online.
This video aired on television and was posted online on the day the notes went into circulation.
This was one of a series of short videos that were produced following a survey conducted in September. The videos answer questions respondents asked.
Reactions to the new notes from the public.
Awards | Currency Awards 2023


Best New Currency Public Education Program


Finalist | Nominee