Lord Browne tells adland it's harder than ever to win consumers' trust

Most corporate communications are not believable, according to Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP.

Lord Browne: said CSR was used by some companies as a 'plaything'
Lord Browne: said CSR was used by some companies as a 'plaything'

Addressing the Advertising Association’s Lead 2016 conference in London today, Browne warned that it was harder than ever for business to win and retain the trust of consumers because of a legacy of "incredible" messaging and "failed" attempts at corporate social responsibility.

Browne said: "It seems to me that businesses only really do gain trust when they try and engage with the concerns of society into everything that they do and CSR has been the primary way in which businesses have sought to build that relationship.

"But it’s really failed. CSR is usually detached from a company’s core purpose, it is not recognised by the people doing the real business. It is often a plaything, a headquarters activity and not attached to what a company’s really doing."

He went on to say that CSR had become a "very dangerous crutch" and cited examples of companies with exemplary CSR records that ended up at the centre of corporate scandals, such as Enron, Lehman Brothers and VW.

Browne also argued that brands should be more honest in the way they communicate with the public and said it was no better in the government, where civil servants were afraid of "having their head chopped off" if they admitted mistakes to the public.

He said: "That doesn’t actually happen if you admit a mistake. Normally there’s silence because there's nothing to reveal."

Topics

Subscribe to Campaign from just £57 per quarter

Includes the weekly magazine and quarterly Campaign IQ, plus unrestricted online access.

SUBSCRIBE

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now
Why Cosabella replaced its agency with AI and will never go back to humans
Shares0
Share

1 Why Cosabella replaced its agency with AI and will never go back to humans

In October, lingerie retailer Cosabella replaced its digital agency with an AI platform named "Albert". Since then it has more than tripled its ROI and increased its customer base by 30%.

Just published

More