Why advertising should more like politics

Richard Pinder

When 68% of the uk population say they trust politicians less than they did five years ago (1), it might seem perverse to say that advertising should become more like politics. But it will, and it should.

Why? Fifty-six per cent trust TV ads (2) and 76% trust a friend's recommendation (3). In other words, conversations in pubs, at school gates and online are by far the most important medium in the marketer's armoury. Bain Consultancy suggests that the most recommended brand in the category grows four times faster than the category average. A study by Dr Paul Mars-den at the LSE suggests that a 12% increase in recommendation can double the rate of brand growth.

The many mediums we use, from the humblest in-store sampling to the most expensive Super Bowl ad, are only important in so far as they are contagious (they make people talk about them) and they change the conversation.