A recent poll has shocked some people in advertising and marketing.
Consumers were asked: "Who do you trust to tell the truth?"
As you’d expect, top came nurses with 96%, then doctors with 92%.
Next came teachers, engineers, professors and scientists, ranging from 89% to 85%.
Then judges, members of the armed forces, and police, going from 83% to 76%.
Newsreaders, priests and clergy, civil servants, and the average person all got 62%.
Pollsters got 52%, charity chief execs 48%, trade union officials 45%.
Bankers, local councillors, and estate agents went from 41% down to 30%.
And journalists, government ministers, and politicians, from 26% to 19%.
But the part that shocked people in our business was who came absolute bottom.
Advertising execs came bottom with just 16%.
Below estate agents and below politicians, but what did we expect?
That the discovery of "brand purpose" would revolutionise people’s opinion of advertising?
But that’s the level of thinking we have in our business.
"This ‘brand purpose’ seems to be the latest thing, let’s jump on that quick."
And we run ads about how chocolate bars are helping stop obesity in children.
Or how petrol companies are saving the planet by planting trees.
Or how detergent companies are sending nappies to the third world.
It doesn’t cost much, it’s a teeny percentage of the budget, but it should fool the punters.
Except it doesn’t, of course – the punters know exactly what’s going on.
Just the way we all did before we got into advertising and drank the Kool-Aid.
Before we got into advertising, we knew what everyone knows: don’t trust advertising.
No big deal, it’s not a problem, of course they’ll exaggerate, they’re selling something, we expect that.
If they can do it in a funny, entertaining way, we may even like them for it, it might be fun.
If you go to any street market, you’ll see every stall is selling similar stuff.
And the guy with the best patter has the biggest crowd around him.
We don’t need a degree in marketing to work out why – he’s simply more entertaining.
So how about a tobacco company that wrings its hands and tells us it has a higher purpose?
It’s not here to make money, it’s only here to change the world for the better?
But ordinary people aren’t as stupid as people in advertising and marketing.
They know advertising wants to sell something, to make money.
They don’t have a problem with that.
What they have a problem with is lies and being patronised.
Ad execs assuming they are so stupid we can make any claim and they will believe it.
Well, we may believe the weasel claims, but they won’t.
Years ago, Nike showed us the proper way to do this sort of advertising.
Its commercial showed lots of young girls playing, while the girls’ voices said:
Girl 1: "If you let me play sports I will be less likely to get breast cancer."
Girl 2: "If you let me play sports I will be more likely to stay in college."
Girl 3: "If you let me play sports I will be less likely to get pregnant before I want to."
Girl 4: "If you let me play sports I will be less likely to stay with a man who beats me."
Girl 5: "If you let me play sports I will be strong."
Super: (Nike Logo) If You Let Me Play.
That ad would make any father buy his daughter the best sports shoes he can.
That’s the honesty of a company that wants to sell you something, and tells you the benefits of why the world would be better for it.
Before there was "brand purpose" there was truth in advertising.
Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three.