I would imagine most of you like to think the answer is: pretty seriously. After all, why bother getting up every morning otherwise? So how do we explain the research published last week that found 60 per cent of PR and marketing professionals flouted the rules around "influencer" marketing? The PR fraternity can’t be responsible for all of those bad apples.
The industry’s carefully balanced regulatory system doesn’t work if people consciously ignore the rules it sits on. More worryingly, perhaps: of the respondents who are familiar with what they should and shouldn’t do, a third actively choose to ignore the guidelines. If you start with that attitude, you’re never going to get anywhere near the IPA’s ideals of conscious capitalism and being here for good.
Getting YouTube bloggers and Instagram stars to promote your products to their readers without disclosing that they’ve been paid is dishonest. Implicit within such a stance is the assumption that your client will make more money if people think posts are freely uploaded. Is such a move really that different from manipulating foreign exchange or inter-banking interest rates? In both cases, money is being made on the back of false information.
As the Advertising Standards Authority’s rulings show each week, some unacceptable ads sneak through the pre-clearance cracks. Last week, a Gucci spot was banned for featuring a model who looked "unhealthily thin". The regulator said her torso and arms appeared to be out of proportion with her head and lower body.
I think it’s evidence of what a crazy world we live in that the previous sentence stirs in me something much closer to resignation than bewilderment. Why are sombre and gaunt girls the best way to sell expensive clothes to undoubtedly older – and presumably plumper – women? And before you get to the point where the model looks unhealthily thin, there is a whole heap of ads that are unhelpful and questionable.
The portrayal of women in advertising was the subject for Creature’s "feed the beast" monthly talk last week. The shop’s founders Stu Outhwaite and Dan Shute debated the issue frankly – conceptually and in reference to their own work – with their employees and two academics from City University. In the end, the academics reassured the Creature staff that so long as they are talking about potential bias and moral issues, they’re heading in the right direction.
I’d put money on the 26 conscientious people huddled around a table in Curtain Road being more reflective of the industry than the 500 involved in the research. If not, why are any of us getting out of bed?