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Credos Advertising Contribution Opinion Tracker

A public opinion tracker on behalf of think tank Credos.

Date Published: 02 May 2011

Categories: Health | Media | Public and communities | Social | UK


Advertising industry can build on public support for its social and economic contribution

The public recognises the social and economic contribution that advertising makes to the country but the industry could do more to improve trust, according to new research published today by advertising think tank Credos. These findings form part of the first annual Credos public opinion tracker.

Compared against other sectors in the economy, more people feel favourably towards advertising (49%) than the media (46%), energy (29%) and banking (29%) sectors, but less than the retail (76%) and telecoms (68%) industries.

The favourability that exists is underpinned by a general recognition of the social value of advertising.  Two thirds of respondents (67%) believe the industry is vital to the success of government information campaigns and the majority agree that money should be spent communicating on important social issues like drink-driving (77%), benefit fraud (60%) and healthy eating (55%).

When it comes to trust, while more people express trust in advertising than previous research has revealed, there is a gap between trust in advertisements (69% said they trusted advertising ‘to some extent’ or ‘to a great extent’) and in the industry that produces them (only 56% said they trust the advertising industry to some or a great extent.) While the majority of the British public trust the ads they see on TV, in newspapers, online and out on the street, there is a lack of understanding about the processes that go into making them, and a need for greater transparency.

Karen Fraser, director of Credos, said: ““It is encouraging to see that so many people recognise the social and economic value of advertising.  It has a vital role to play in supporting social causes, helps other industries compete efficiently and is a major employer in its own right.  That said, there is more that the industry could do to build a more positive reputation among the public.  Our research shows that favourability and trust come with understanding – this presents a clear opportunity for the industry to be more open and transparent about the rigour and self-regulation of its work.”

Over the past 20 years there has been a notable decline in favourability towards the advertising industry. While throughout the 1980s favourability never fell below 50%, in 2009 we reached an historic low of just 29%. While the number of individuals expressing favourability towards the industry has decreased, a high proportion of respondents (45% in 2009) has been selecting the ‘neither favourable nor unfavourable’ option, indicating a level of indifference towards the industry.

The Credos opinion tracker replaced the ‘neither/nor’ option with ‘no opinion’. As a result, the proportion of respondents selecting this option dropped dramatically to just 6%, while those expressing fairly or very favourable feelings towards advertising rose to 49%.

Tim Lefroy, Chief Executive of the Advertising Association, comments: “Credos’ figures are very encouraging – they indicate that the public isn’t necessarily indifferent to advertising, but that there is perhaps a tension between their view of the ads they see and hear, and of the advertising industry itself.  Credos’ approach to this research highlights the difficulty the industry has had in really getting to the heart of people’s feelings towards advertising. Today’s findings offer insight that will help us better understand the complex challenge the industry faces – and will help us act on it.”

Consumer research was conducted by ComRes as an online survey. 2,053 adults across Great Britain were polled between 17th and 19th December 2010.

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