Fake news is an issue in the media industry, a lack of consumer trust is an issue for the advertising industry. It seems like everywhere one looks these days, there’s an air of suspicion. Nor is this exactly new – the global financial crisis a decade ago ushered in a new era of cynicism, although bankers seem to have clawed back some credibility since then and are more trusted than business leaders generally in Ipsos’s Veracity Index.
Advertising executives, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the list of trusted professions, behind the traditional bad guys: politicians, journalists and estate agents. How did it get to this? One answer is bullshit, according to journalist and presenter Evan Davis. And following the events of 2016 – the UK’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the US – he wrote a book about it.
Speaking at the Advertising Association’s annual LEAD conference (London, January 2019), he mused on the nature of bullshit. “It is the only word I know that properly captures the phenomenon of what we’re talking about, particularly in advertising but largely in public discourse as well, that plays straight to the issue of trust.”