Let’s rebuild trust by unleashing advertising’s capabilities to make a difference
Keith Weed, President, Advertising Association
As we look forward to the new decade, I am determined that we tackle the biggest challenge facing our industry – the decline of public trust in advertising. In January 2019, we commissioned Credos to conduct a piece of research across the UK to identify the key factors contributing to that decline. From these findings, our industry developed an action plan to tackle them. Arresting the Decline of Public Trust in UK Advertising outlined how we plan to address the issues of bombardment and excessive frequency, and how we will reassure the public that we take the self-regulation of advertising content and the use of their data seriously.
The Credos research also showed how public trust in advertising is currently finely balanced, with the negatives matched by positive factors. That begged the question, how might we leverage the positives to rebuild trust? One lever which promised an opportunity was advertising’s social contribution. So, in summer 2019, we asked Credos to help us understand the social contribution of UK advertising, and its role in building public trust.
Credos set about this brief with the intellectual rigour we have come to expect from our industry’s think tank. This new report, with its major new consumer research, is clear in its findings – we have an opportunity to rebuild public trust through advertising which makes a clear social contribution. Whether it comes from a for-profit company, an NGO or the Government, the report shows there are many ways advertising can apply its capabilities to produce benefits and create positive impact.
After 25 years championing brand purpose-led marketing at Unilever, this is hugely gratifying for me to see. I have always believed advertising which drives and underpins positive social change, while growing responsible brands and businesses, is a win/win for society and the economy.
I applaud the scale and ambition of our industry, recorded in this report. The work we do, investing billions of pounds and millions of working hours to make advertising with a social contribution, is something we should all be proud of. More importantly, there is a clear and impassioned desire to do more. Brands and advertising practitioners want to show, through the very best of advertising, what we can do for society.
We must rebuild public trust in advertising – there is no other option if we want a long-term sustainable future for our industry. Advertising Pays 8 is a vital report at the start of a new decade. We have long known that UK advertising is a key engine of the UK economy; this report fills me with confidence that it is also a powerful catalyst for positive change in UK society.