Rebranding the advertising industry
Consumers believe ad agencies should accept at least some responsibility for the current worldwide economic crisis and the credit crunch. Creative directors will soon be giving bankers and lawyers a run for their money it seems. Are you surprised? Don’t be.
The Harris Poll, a nationwide survey of 2,220 U.S. adults by Harris Interactive found that 66% of Americans believe advertising agencies have at least some responsibility for the current economic crisis because they caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford. Consumers across the age spectrum are blaming agencies – 75% of those older than 55 felt advertising agencies have at least some responsibility for the crisis, as does 60% of 18-34 year olds.
No wonder then that the American Association of Advertising Agencies is saying that the industry needs to do a better job of advertising itself, according to The New York Times. The paper quotes the association’s president and chief executive, Nancy Hill, as saying that “our business is still fighting for more respect in the public sphere. The common perception of our business in the United States continues to be so negative for so many people.”
Ad agencies have never shied away from representing controversial industries or clients, money is money after all, and nobody is going to call them to account. Times are changing and consumers are becoming more demanding, more aware and more insistent on good corporate citizenship. One day they will hold brands responsible for the ad agencies they choose but for now they are holding agencies responsible for the clients they pick and the advertising they produce.
It should make every advertising executive sit up and re-examine how they do business.
In South Africa, with few exceptions, agencies don’t bother investing in their own brands, and there is no co-ordinated approach to tackling public perception about an industry that engage with consumers on a daily basis and in virtually every aspect of their lives. Other than the annual awards/booze up the ad biz hasn’t really made the news. That is about to change. Take note.