“Truth in advertising has long been something to ignore or interpret creatively, if not intentionally avoid altogether”.
When Jonathan Salem Baskin and I wrote the opening words to our book Tell the Truth we did so out of a strong sense that the marketing industry was not reacting fast enough to the enormous change in consumer expectations driven by the internet and smart phone access.
We believed that the art of spin was becoming redundant and that the skewed positioning, that brands often resort to, worked fine when the brand’s voice was the only one speaking to consumers. But in the Age of Dialogue, with social media on the ascent, the time for spin was over. We said in closing : “in five years we’ll look back on the art of spin as an anachronism”.
Research presented by MediaCom’s Managing Partner Steve Gladdis and Real World Insight Director Pauline Robson at this week’s fourth Age of Dialogue conference showed that what they termed “The Marketing Truth Deficit” was concrete and urgent.
At a lively and stimulating day (yes we did also have Lord Sugar as a speaker, but I think that would make a separate blog), Gladdis and Robson revealed that whilst 68% of the UK public say that it is important that companies tell the truth in their advertising only 34% do actually trust advertisers.
A qualitative research study recently backed this up when the planners attending it were surprised to hear that the respondents all agreed that you couldn’t trust what ads said even if it was a factual claim on TV.
Perhaps we should not be surprised. Trust in institutions, government and experts is lower than ever. And the public is more likely to trust the opinion of a stranger who they think is “someone like me” than of anyone who they think is paid to say what they have said.
Not surprised then, but certainly spurred into action. If you don’t know what to do about it here’s the book.