UK ad industry aims to prove its worth

20 October 2009

LONDON: The Advertising Association, the UK trade industry body, is set to establish a new foundation aiming to overcome popular mistrust in commercial communications, after research supported by the organisation revealed current perceptions among the public are highly negative.

Speaking at the Media Guardian Changing Advertising conference yesterday, Tim Lefroy, the organisation's chief executive, said a study carried out on behalf of the AA found that less than 15% of adults "generally trust advertising."

Lefroy argued "if current trends continue, for the first time ever, people who are against advertising, who want it more controlled and regulated will in a few years outnumber those who are 'for it', who feel that our freedoms are well placed."

"And the loss of public trust opens the door for politicians with the sometimes arrogant view that consumers lack any judgment at all and must be protected legally by them from the harm that we do."

In response, the Advertising Association, and major companies like Unilever, the FMCG giant, Diageo, the spirits group, and Barclays, the financial services specialist, are backing the formation of Front Foot, which will launch early in 2010.

This foundation will play the role of being "the single contemporary authoritative objective source for the value, and pitfalls, of advertising, commercial and social communication," according to Lefroy.

"It will be a source of authority from which we can start to deal with the morass of ill-informed prejudice into which we are in danger of sinking. It will be funded by all parts of the industry in rough proportion."

Over the last five years, some 125 items of legislation have been passed placing restrictions on at least one element of advertising and marketing practice, often backed by pressure groups using "millions of pounds of taxapayer money demonising what we do," said Lefroy.

"So it is time for the advertising industry to get behind rebuilding the reputation and belief in what we do," he concluded.

Data sourced from Media Guardian; additional content by Warc staff