Dear Adland, We Don't Trust You -- Signed, Everyone

All of adland might have rejoiced to hear that the profession was to be included in the Ipsos Mori Veracity Index for the first time this year. The honour of being added as an individual profession, however, was short lived. Ad execs have debuted at the bottom of a league table for the most trusted professions in the UK.

To do so really takes some doing. Ad execs, trusted by just 16% of the population, have managed to enter the survey below even politicians and government officials. Journalists are the next profession, if one is going from the bottom to the top, trusted by just 26%. As you would imagine, nurses top the league table with doctors and teachers just behind, scoring trust ratings of 96%, 92% and 89%.

Press Gazette also reveals that television news presenters -- sitting in the middle of the league table -- saw this year's biggest drop in trust ratings of 5%. However, they are still more than twice as trusted as journalists, prompting the site to quote a media commentator pointing out the conundrum that the public trusts the people who deliver the news but not those who write the scripts.

With poor old journalists toward the bottom of the pile but ad executives entering the list in last place, Campaign has been sent into a spin, asking execs why they think it is the public doesn't trust adland.

A spokesperson for the IPA points out that advertising is caught in the crosshairs of several issues, surrounding brand safety, fake news and misuse of data. Another ad exec points out that it is not that surprising and it is not too distressing because -- let's face it -- advertising isn't necessarily about being seen to be tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A third ad exec jokes that debuting below politicians in the era of Brexit is quite an achievement.

However, all three execs interviewed hit on a common theme. There is concern about data use, often beyond an exec's direct control. And if you want to know why advertising is bottom of a trust league table, you really need look no further than the name -- advertising.

Nobody expects the truth from a commercial. Nobody believes they can drive a car on a deserted winding mountain road, nobody truly believes a new perfume will make a movie star fall for them or that drinking one brand's beverage over another will make them any more popular at a bar or party.

The thing is that we expect advertising to lie to us. It can't tell us whoppers, although those beauty brands get a little close in my opinion. However, when it comes to that wonderful question posed by the Paloma Faith song, "Do You Want The Truth, Or Something Beautiful?", the industry is all too happy to allow advertisers to mix factual claims with a little bit of exaggeration about how their product will make us feel. 

So being the least trusted profession in the country shouldn't really bother ad executives too much. It's pretty much a loaded question that people answer as they feel they are expected to, rather than how they truly feel. Do more than four in five people really think ads regularly lie? And do three in four people really think journalists just spout untruths? I doubt it very much. 

This survey is an annual piece of fun and it does tell a wider story, but adland finding out it is less trusted than nurses and doctors will come as little surprise. If adland were selling reality, it would have cause to be concerned. It isn't, so it shouldn't. 

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