Advertising has some work to do when it comes to encouraging trust and favourability among consumers – and, in turn, attracting new talent to the industry, research shows.

In Ipsos’s Veracity Index, advertising executives come bottom of a list of professions that survey respondents would generally trust to tell them the truth – below even the traditional bad guys: politicians, journalists and estate agents.

And at the Advertising Association’s LEAD conference last week, Karen Fraser, head of advertising think tank Credos, noted a long-term downward trend in favourability towards advertising.

That might not matter hugely in terms of commercial effectiveness, she suggested, “but if we want to hold our heads up high, if we want to attract new young talent to our business, if we want people to like what we do, then yes it matters”.

So Credos has conducted research among people across the UK to find out what they really think about advertising – starting by interviewing 60 and spending time in and out of home with a smaller number – and that wasn’t always encouraging.

“I don’t know if there are any ethical core values in advertising,” said one. “And if there are, I’m not aware of them.” (For more, read WARC’s report: A general theory of bullshit – and why advertising needs to build trust.)

But overall, advertising is generally seen as a good thing with downsides, Fraser reported.

“Pretty much anything that puts people in mind of a brand, or even an idea, is considered advertising,” she added. “So we need to think more broadly when we’re thinking about our reputation.”

A wider quant survey gave grounds for optimism in that the benefits of advertising outweigh – just – the negatives. And relatively straightforward fixes can be applied to some of the latter; people tend to be annoyed and irritated by ads rather than to completely mistrust them, Fraser pointed out.

The top concern – and one picked up by AA president Keith Weed as one of his seven deadly sins of advertising – was “bombardment”: too many ads or too many repetitions of the same ad.

The industry needs reduce such negatives before it can move on to promoting the benefits of advertising, said Fraser.

Sourced from WARC