Industry bosses warn of declining trust in advertising

30 Jan 2019  |  David Pidgeon 
Industry bosses warn of declining trust in advertising

'Repetitive, obtrusive and irrelevant': consumer sentiment towards advertising has hit an all time low according to Credos, the industry's think tank.

In a paper published today during the Ad Association's annual LEAD conference, it was revealed that public favourability towards advertising hit a low of 25% in December last year.

The paper states that while people appreciate its benefits, there are a range issues negatively impacting their perceptions of ads, including "bombardment" and "intrusiveness", as well as concerns around vulnerable people, such as the financially insecure, those with addictions, children, and the elderly.

However, it wasn't all bad news: the findings - based on a survey of 2,000 UK adults - showed that advertising is valued as a source of information on new products and services, as well as being a form of entertainment.

Some respondents also saw advertising as a force for social good, providing important public health information and representing progressive social values. Less than a third of people in the study were actively unfavourable towards advertising.

However, aspects of the creative execution of individual campaigns bothered many participants, with many citing irritating jingles and poor humour.

More worryingly, the public also found many adverts to be manipulative, misleading or portrayed unrealistic body image ideals.

"Advertising, generally speaking, is viewed as a good thing, but with downsides," said Karen Frazer, director of Credos (pictured). "But we need to get our house in order and act upon this feedback."

Meanwhile, Keith Weed, president of the AA and CMO of Unilever said: “Trust is a crucial component of advertising. A brand without trust is simply a product; you cannot have one without the other. And there is much that we can do to do to rebuild trust among the public towards advertising."

"We should look at those areas identified in the research as being of concern and do our utmost to address them – and be seen to do so. We live in an age where people are increasingly conscious of the need for business to act responsibly and be a force for good in society. Let’s work together as an industry to meet both the challenges our research presents and the opportunities it affords to rebuild advertising’s relationship with people.”

Previous Credos studies show public favourability towards advertising has been in long term decline. In 2017 it was recorded at around 35%, and in 1992 was around 48%.

In 2017 the ASA received almost 30,000 complaints about advertising in the UK, a rise of 47% on 2016.

Concern at this decline led to the creation of a Trust Working Group (TWG) at the Advertising Association – alongside members from across the UK’s biggest advertisers, agencies, media owners, trade associations and tech platforms.

"This study gives us the chance to look at how we can change the perception of advertising for the better to truly reconnect and re-engage with the public," said Paul Bainsfair, director general, IPA.

"As practitioners in advertising, IPA members are conscious of their vital role in creating campaigns that enable people to have confidence and faith in our industry. We are creative problem-solvers, so we look forward to working with our peers from across the advertising business to see what we need to action to achieve a better outcome in the next survey.”

Commenting on today's news, Mark Evans, the CMO of Direct Line, said one solution to combating the decline was to improve the measurement of advertising - giving brands better feedback on what works with consumers, and what does not.

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18 Apr 2019 

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