Britvic chief Simon Litherland warns consumer trust in advertising is 'at all time low'

Britvic chief executive and new ISBA president Simon Litherland has said that a lack of consumer trust in advertising is the biggest threat to the marketing industry, thanks to issues such as data privacy and the explosion of social media.

Simon Litherland: the Britvic CEO made his inaugural speech as ISBA president at today's Annual Conference
Simon Litherland: the Britvic CEO made his inaugural speech as ISBA president at today's Annual Conference

Litherland, who was named ISBA president last month, was addressing more than 300 delegates at today’s (11 March) ISBA Annual Conference at the Kia Oval in London.

He said: "Trust in advertising has slumped to an all-time low among consumers. Various explanations have been surfaced for this, including privacy concerns with regard to data, the rise of social media, and the relentless barrage of messaging that consumers receive daily."

He said it is "critical that we bottom out the key drivers and explore what we can do about it", suggesting that a more open and transparent conversation with consumers is partly the answer.

The Britvic chief also sounded a note of caution regarding increasing pressure from political parties and campaign groups for greater regulation to combat obesity and unhealthy eating and drinking.

He lauded the marketing industry’s "highly effective self-regulation system, an evidence-based regime", but warned of "political whim" and "interest groups high on passion, but low on evidence".

He said: "With the General Election coming up, concerns about obesity remain uppermost across the political spectrum and it is likely that the Government will press for restrictions on exposure of children to HFSS advertising on TV and online.

"However, it is encouraging to hear acknowledgements of the effective self-regulation of advertising and the need to maintain an evidence-based approach."

Litherland’s speech also covered the rise of programmatic, the post-recession "new normal", defined by "leaner and fitted companies dealing with increasingly more price-sensitive consumers", and the rise of ad fraud, citing one major FMCG company that recently discovered that 500 million of its 1 billion ad impressions served during a video campaign were not from genuine viewers.

Today’s ISBA event will feature presentations and panel sessions from an array of marketers and agency representatives, including Unilever’s Marc Mathieu, Vodafone’s Daryl Fielding and Barclay’s Sara Bennison.

Marketing will be reporting on the day’s highlights.