James Best, Chairman, Credos
Credos was 10 years old last year. Advertising’s think-tank, inspired by Tim Lefroy, funded by Front Foot’s generous backers and led almost since its inception by Karen Fraser, has matured over the decade to provide the UK advertising industry with a unique resource.
Seeking to understand and improve advertising’s relationship with individuals and society, Credos is probably best known for the Advertising Pays series. Envied and emulated internationally, it has measured, analysed and communicated the many ways in which our industry benefits the people, businesses and economy of the UK.
Advertising Pays 7, 2019’s publication, looked at the ‘Digital Revolution’ that has transformed advertising over the past twenty years: its nature, impact on consumers and business, and its implications for the future. As well as the many benefits brought by digitalisation, the challenges arising from the UK’s transition to an online society often highlight advertising’s role and responsibilities.
But there is a lot more to our work.
In 2019, we focused on trust. Public trust in advertising – whether in the ads themselves or the industry as a whole – appears to be in long- term decline. Or so our annual tracking study suggests. We may not be alone in this, as trust in institutions more widely has diminished over time, but our business has done badly and it matters. For advertising to be effective, it has to command a degree of credibility and trustworthiness. That’s why the industry pays for the ASA, the world’s leading ad-regulator, to ensure that UK advertising is ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’ – in a word, responsible. Declining trust implies declining effectiveness.
Credos’ extensive research, conducted for a pan- industry working group chaired by the CEOs of ISBA and the IPA, has generated a comprehensive action programme addressing issues such as bombardment, excessive frequency, personal privacy and support for the ASA’s communications campaign. It has also proved a popular and compelling topic for presentations and seminars across the industry: people in our business really do care about the work they do and how people respond to it.
That is a long-term programme to address a long- term problem. As a part of the on-going effort to navigate the industry through Brexit, Credos sought to investigate the industry’s preparedness for a No-Deal Brexit. During late September, AA Members were surveyed to build an understanding of what sort of efforts and support systems would be needed to prepare for a No-Deal Brexit. Results from the survey underscored the uncertainty and anxiety within the industry regarding a No-Deal Brexit, which is negatively shaping how the industry is preparing.
We have also contributed to advertising’s ‘timeTo’ initiative, addressing the very real and present problem of sexual harassment in the industry by providing new research into sexual harassment experienced by those working within timeTo endorsing organisations, and supporting the launch of a new toolkit and training pack created to help businesses eradicate this problem.
Looking ahead to 2020, Credos will be as busy as ever. Advertising Pays 8 will consider advertising’s positive role in promoting societal change in attitudes and behaviour – towards health and well-being, safety, equality and diversity, charitable causes and the environment, amongst others.
And on the topic of the environment and the challenge of rapid climate change, Credos will produce an analysis of the advertising industry’s actions and policies to combat further damage.
Advertising’s contribution to the UK’s world- beating creative services is another topic of Credos’ investigation this year. Producing ad campaigns means hiring creative resources of every sort – writers, photographers, film-makers, animators, actors, vloggers, web designers, printers… the list is long – and as the world centre of advertising production, the UK has many of the very best. The value, growth and export worth of this ad-fuelled talent base will demonstrate another way in which our industry benefits society and the economy.
Keep your finger on Credos’ pulse by following @CredosThinks on Twitter and via our Linkedin page.