On Wednesday our Advertising Association president Keith Weed offered the delegates of our LEAD ‘19 conference a stark ultimatum: “Trust or bust”.
Weed addressed the endemic issue of falling public trust in advertising – and potential solutions – in front of a standing room only crowd at Kings Place in London. Based on newly-released trust research from Credos, Weed and other industry veterans noted that since advertising depends wholly on the ability to communicate authentically with audiences, any break in trust undermines the messages we attempt to communicate.
Weed set out his ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ of advertising, ranging from inauthenticity around influencer marketing to poorly-handled personalised advertising. He ended his speech with a multi-part call to action to help address the fall in trust, ranging from raising awareness of the activities of the ASA and the action of the ICO to gathering industry-wide support for pro-social forces for good.
An all-star panel consisting of representatives from the Guardian, Nationwide, WPP and Google then discussed the rapidly-changing advertising landscape that has brought the issues of trust into stark focus. The Guardian’s CRO Hamish Nicklin questioned whether the goldrush for data has overshadowed the industry’s real strength of creativity, while WPP’s Karen Blackett OBE noted that the industry still has a long way to go to be representative and wholly trusted again.
Other sessions over the course of the half-day event focused on the intersection of advertising and politics. Graham Stuart MP discussed the work of the Department for International Trade around our Promote UK campaign. Labour’s Tom Watson recounted how his own experience as “a failed advertising executive” informs his decisions as a politician, saying “some say advertising is just a mirror on our culture; I think advertising shapes our culture.”