Sunday, May 05, 2013

Why Don't They Trust Us?

In a survey released last week of 'most trusted professions', Advertising People finished in 29th place. Out of 30. The only people trusted less than us were Car Salesmen.



Clearly this ranking is unfair.

Let's look at who finished above us:

In 25th place - MP's. Despite their inability to tell the truth, or keep their peckers in their trousers.

In 24th place, Journalists. Hello? Ever heard of phone hacking?

In 23rd place, Stockbrokers. Because, like, everyone in finance is so honest. They'd never be involved in insider trading, or sell mortgage-backed securities that they know to be worthless.

In 15th place, Lawyers. Twisting the facts is part of their job description, FFS! 

In 12th place, Ministers of Religion. There is no God. Half of them know that, but they carry on anyway. Maybe they just like having easy access to children...

In 11th place, Accountants. Primary role: helping people avoid tax.

In 8th place, Police. Okay, so most of them are honest, but thousands of policemen around the world are kicked out of their profession every year for corruption. Have you seen Bad Lieutenant?

The top places - filled by Nurses, Pharmacists, Doctors and School Teachers - are fairly unimpeachable.

But still, I can't help but feel we've been placed unfairly low.The rules around what an ad can say are very strict. And the vast majority of people I've met in my profession have extremely high ethical standards.

So for a while, I felt miffed. Then, the universe provided an answer. Or at least, Twitter did:


I've never worked in the beauty category. Or on cleaning products (one swipe of a cloth, and the dirt is gone.)

I've worked on cars, booze, mobile phones, newspapers, video games... and yes, we exaggerate - but openly, humorously - and we put across the product in the best possible light... but we never lie.

Is it possible that certain categories are giving the whole of advertising a bad name? Or is there really something wrong with our industry?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do think there is something terrible wrong with our industry. But just like almost every other industry, as you said.

And we are probably the only professionals from this list that can get paid by all the other people from this list to do their bad work (car salesmen and doctors included).

But this gave me an idea: what about a reverse advertising award? We get together every year in a beautiful beach in south of... hm, maybe France, and we judge the worst ads of the year. Hell yeah! That would be fun.

Charles Frith said...

High ethical standards? You mean like selling corn syrup drinks and pretending Type II diabetes doesn't exist. Shall I go on?

Very few people know ad folk. It's not the people who aren't trusted. It's the product and the product is called advertising.

WCD said...

If this is a new poll, the placings have barely moved in decades. I have a suspicion this is just residual perception of our industry (and all the industries). It's a carryover from when advertisers did lie - "Only Duff refreshes your Q Zone". The perception of us as deceptive is taking a long time to shift.

The other part of the equation is that advertising is harder to publicly admit to loving. The public has little personal interaction with advertising people. So even the clergy will have more ardent supporters who are messing up the grade curve because they know someone they do trust.

And people love good advertising but how many will admit to loving it as an industry?

Scamp said...

They have actually been running this poll since 1979. And you are right, WCD, that the placings remain fairly constant. Though interestingly, 'Advertising People' actually got the LOWEST score this year since the survey began...

Anonymous said...

Where are those scummy Real Estate Agents they should be in 30th place!!

Anonymous said...

I blame Mad Men. And all the "ad execs" in movies.

Peter K. Rufus said...

The reason, Scamp, is that we don't make anything that people can buy (barring W+K's ultra hip Christmas pudding garbage bags). So we're a bunch of people who earn squillions (ok, gazillions) without 'manufacturing' anything. We don't build cars or dams or bridges. We don't produce veggies or toothpaste or condoms. There's very little that's tangible about what we do. If anything, we play with people's minds. We're manipulators of emotion. We're hijackers of rationale. And we get paid for it!

With a lawyer, you're 'buying' a favorable legal judgment. With a stockbroker, you're 'buying' a money multiplier. With a cop, you're 'buying' protection. With an MP, you're 'buying' good governance. In fact, with all the professions that precede ours, there'S something 'tangible' 'value' to be 'bought' (received).

If you're Joe Bloggs down the street, what 'tangible' 'value' can you expect to receive from a copywriter or an art director or account manager?

Neighbour 1 is a butcher; I buy meat from him. Neighbour 2 is a stockbroker; I use him to increase my wealth. Neighbour 3 is an advertising professional; what can I buy from him? Sure, I can get him to write a radio spot for me; but how does that enable to drive a a BMW?

So it's the fact that we don't offer any 'tangible' 'value' to the average Joe, coupled with the fact that when we do offer 'tangible' goods they seem overpriced, that we don't do very well on the trustworthiness index.

But here's the thing. Should we bother if we're so low down on the survey? I mean, the respondents aren't our audience are they? It's the marketers' trust that we want; so as long as we have that, should we be concerned?

Scamp said...

Good point. I suppose it all bleeds through. If we're not 'generally' trusted, then we'll be less likely to be trusted by our clients, and that's a rather bad thing... Maybe we all need to dress as doctors?

Ben said...

Paul, you can apply 'So we're a bunch of people who earn squillions (ok, gazillions) without 'manufacturing' anything. We don't build cars or dams or bridges. We don't produce veggies or toothpaste or condoms. There's very little that's tangible about what we do. If anything, we play with people's minds. We're manipulators of emotion. We're hijackers of rationale. And we get paid for it! ' to the clergy.

Anonymous said...

The industry is a pantomime villain that's all.

But y' know what, who gives a fuck.

If people think we can somehow magically persuade them to buy shit they don't need more fools them.

Right, I've got fags to sell to kids.

Matei said...

about those tangibles producers, how trusted are they?

how come advertisers are blamed for the bad quality of the products, but not the ones actually producing them?
they're the ones constantly looking to sell more and more shit...
and then influence lawmakers so that they can keep making the same shitty products.

i'm not saying we're spotless (in an ideal world we'd refuse working on clients we think are bad for you) but the guys who make the corn syrup need a better detergent...