What marketers can do from today to build consumer trust

'Humanity has been stripped from the conversation": Industry experts speak to the critical value in trust as adland's currency.

(L to R) Campaign's Lindsay Stein, Elvis' Caroline Davison, Google's Ant Hill and McCann's India Wooldridge and Chris Macdonald
(L to R) Campaign's Lindsay Stein, Elvis' Caroline Davison, Google's Ant Hill and McCann's India Wooldridge and Chris Macdonald

Trust in advertising has declined from 50 percent back in 1992 to only 25 percent in 2018.

The alarming statistic, from U.K.-based advertising industry’s independent think tank Credos, underlines the imperative role of trust as adland’s most vital currency.

"It’s not surprising that people aren't trusting advertising the way they used to -- from Brexit to Fyre Festival, where the whole advertising campaign was a lie," said Caroline Davison, managing partner at Elvis, during a SXSW discussion hosted by the British Music Embassy in association with the IPA and U.K. Department for International Trade on Saturday in Austin, Texas.   

"But it's the fact that out of the research, people do fundamentally believe that advertising is good despite the downsides."

Elvis was joined by Ant Hill, head of creative agency relations at Google, Chris Macdonald, global president, allied agencies at McCann Worldgroup and India Wooldridge, SVP, director at McCann Truth Central.

The industry experts shared their number one tips for how agencies and brands can better harness trust.

Elvis encouraged companies to look into talent management agencies which represent a more diverse range of people like those with disabilities.

"One thing everyone can do is when you have a brief, have a conversation around who should be in your ads," she added.

Wooldridge stressed: "Humanity has been stripped out of the conversation. We’re looking at data without remembering there’s real people sitting behind it.

"Remember that brands have a mission and a very human relationship -- and that’s a relationship at every single touchpoint where brands can play a meaningful role. For me, that’s critical in helping build trust between brands and consumers."

Macdonald echoed this and explained that around four years ago McCann changed its mission to lean heavily into ensuring brands play a more meaningful role in people’s lives.

"The whole point of that is, brands have to have meaning," he said. "They have to be transparent, they have to be honest, understand it’s role and carry it through to every channel. We all know the danger is if brands fail to deliver in people’s lives, they become redundant."

He added: "Trust is about humanity and creativity. We talk a lot about data, technology -- but we have to keep elevating the conversation around creativity and driving creativity through every channel. We as an industry are not pushing it as hard as we should be across all touchpoints."

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