Prove your brand purpose or consumers won't believe it, warns Trinity Mirror

Majority of adults in the UK distrust advertising, while nearly half distrust brands generally, according to a new study by Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror.

Andy Atkinson: brands must not think it's 'business as usual'
Andy Atkinson: brands must not think it's 'business as usual'

According to the survey, a brand’s purpose is viewed as inauthentic until people have seen it in action with their own eyes. 58% of adults surveyed said they do not trust a brand until they have seen "real world proof" that it has kept its promises, and 57% agreed that brands should be more careful where they place their advertising.

The survey aims to highlight the challenge brands face outside of the so-called "London bubble", with people living outside the capital 21% more likely to say that brands do not aim their advertising at them.

Trinity Mirror’s research, carried out by Ipsos Connect, says 69% of people do not trust ads, with 47% of those tending to distrust advertising, and 22% not trusting them "at all".

Brands fare slightly better, with just over half (51%) saying they tend to trust them, and 43% expressing distrust.

Doctors and the courts fared much better in the trust ratings by consumers, while social media and journalists were among the least trusted groups.

The publisher recommends avoiding "over-inflated brand propositions that are no longer lapped up by consumers" because cut-through is harder to achieve and media is more fragmented today.

Trust a great deal Tend to trust Tend to distrust Do not trust at all
Government officials 4% 35% 35% 25%
The media 1% 25% 48% 26%
Banks/financial institutions 10% 53% 24% 13%
Social media 1% 17% 43% 35%
Tech companies 6% 49% 30% 11%
The courts 23% 57% 12% 6%
Doctors 43% 48% 6% 2%
Ads 1% 29% 47% 30%
The ad industry 1% 24% 46% 27%
Brands 5% 51% 33% 10%
The man/woman on the street 3% 42% 38% 14%
Journalists 2% 26% 46% 25%

Brands are also advised to replace "anecdote-telling" with "story-telling", which means it is no longer enough to tell consumers what a brand stands for.

To break out of the "London bubble", Trinity Mirror is also recommending replacing "implicit" geo-targeting with "explicit" geo-targeting, which means making clear to local audiences that a brand is talking to them on their turf. 

Andy Atkinson, chief revenue officer at Trinity Mirror, said the publisher confirmed a suspicion that the brands and the ad industry in general risk being out of touch, as the survey confirmed how attitudes in the UK have changed dramatically in recent years."

He added: "The establishment has made some pretty wrong calls recently, whether it’s the Brexit referendum, or Theresa May’s snap General Election.

"We’ve talked about these things anecdotally for some time and wanted to see if that’s moving to the advertising world."

Atkinson warned that brands "cannot bury their head in the sand and think it’s business as usual".