MUMBAI: Trust is an essential aspect of advertising, highlighted by the remarks at a recent event by top agency and client-side marketers, including P&G India's managing director Shantanu Khosla and leading adman Sir John Hegarty.

Both were speaking at Creativity, for Goodness Sake, organised by the Advertising Standards Council of India, and both stressed the role of trust in connecting with consumers.

Hegarty expressed some concern about the current direction of advertising, especially with regard to how content is being used and the rise of native advertising.

"We seem to be heading to a stage where we are undermining the value of what we do by pretending it's not advertising," he said, and he was doubtful whether this particular balancing act would have a happy outcome.

"I am not sure how we can portray ourselves as a truthful industry if part of what we do is deceiving people into watching ads," he said, adding that "part of the reason that we are considered deceitful is because of these things".

He argued that there were plenty of other techniques advertisers could use – including humour and product demonstrations – to successfully get their message across to consumers.

"I did not come into this industry to be deceitful and I think brands who do that should be really ashamed of themselves," he declared.

Khosla, too, had firm views on the importance of trust, which he described as "a very valuable commodity" which extended in all directions to "brands, companies and people and who do you build relations with".

And he made the point that brands needed to demonstrate integrity and to follow society's rules in order to build that trust.

"Ultimately these rules are coming from the consumers themselves," he noted. "As the consumer changes and society changes the rules change."

As an example of this he cited the history of advertising of sanitary napkins, which had been banned from TV 25 years ago. 

Today they are not only shown on TV but their role in improving women's health "is so deeply accepted that state governments are funding and running programs to freely distribute branded sanitary napkins".

Data sourced from Exchange4Media; additional content Warc staff