As research shows the public’s trust in the ad industry is declining, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is trialling a new campaign to promote its role in keeping all advertising “legal, decent, honest and truthful”.

The aim of the campaign, which is being launched and assessed first across media outlets in Scotland, is to help rebuild public trust in the ad industry, the ASA says. It is working in partnership with Advertising Association’s Trust Working Group.

The campaign features a number of well-known ads from big brands, including Audi, Churchill, IRN-BRU, Marmite, Mastercard and Tesco. It takes these ads and interprets them to demonstrate how advertising is regulated.

Churchill’s “OOoh Yes”, Mastercard’s “Priceless” and Marmite’s “Love it or hate it” ads will be featured in print, outdoor and online ads, while two 10-second and 20-second TV ads will feature Churchill and Marmite. The campaign will run across TV, radio, print, outdoor, social, and online display.

The public’s response will be monitored post-campaign to see how perceptions of advertising and the ASA have changed and to gather data for future campaigns across the rest of the UK.

Before launch, the ASA carried out research in Scotland and the rest of the UK to gauge people’s perceptions of the both the industry and the ASA. Findings showed that 60% of people in the rest of the UK were aware of the ASA when prompted. In Scotland the figure was 55%.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, trust in the advertising industry was found to be low – only 17% of those surveyed in the UK expressed trust in the ad industry, and 23% said they trusted adverts. The figures in Scotland were broadly similar, although Scots are slightly more trusting.

More positively for the ASA, 62% of those in the UK who had heard of the body said they trusted it, with a similar result in Scotland. Researchers also found that those people who trust the ASA are more likely to trust the ad industry as a whole.

The general level of trust in the advertising industry in the UK is reflected in global data. Based on surveys at the end of 2019, researchers found a significant majority of consumers across all regions of the world agreed with the statement that it had “become harder to trust what companies say and do”. In 12 of the 13 countries and regions examined, percentages agreeing with the statement ranged from 69% in the Middle East to 83% in France.

And research across 26 markets around the world found a general decline between 2019 and 2020 in consumers’ trust in 15 different industries to “do what is right”.

Sourced from Advertising Association; additional content by WARC staff