Advertising’s positive role in society gains recognition


Nearly half (46%) of British consumers believe advertising has a positive impact on society, while 42% say that advertising can help to make the world a better place, a new survey has revealed.

The comprehensive research from Credos, the Advertising Association’s think tank, highlights how both consumers and industry practitioners perceive advertising’s role in society and was released to coincide with the AA’s annual LEAD summit last week.

The findings are based on responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people, plus individual interviews with smaller groups, as well as a poll of 105 advertising industry executives.

Encouragingly, following a difficult year of damaging headlines about brand safety and data privacy abuses, the AA/Credos report found that people in the UK are “relatively positive” about advertising’s impact on society.

And they are almost three times more likely to appreciate the positive impacts of advertising on society than they are to perceive the negatives, especially when it comes to raising awareness or donations for charities and good causes (45%).

But people in the UK also appreciate positive and progressive behavioural change campaigns (31%) and those that promote products that are good for the planet and society (30%).

The survey further reveals that the social benefits of advertising make up 40% of all positive factors driving public perceptions of the industry’s impact on society, while they also account for 38% of public favourability and 31% of the public’s trust in advertising.

Indeed, “promoting a more harmonious society” is the most significant driver of positive public perceptions and more than half (53%) of consumers think more highly of a company that tries to make a positive societal impact through its advertising.

However, the report acknowledges there is more to do and found the top three areas that people in the UK would like to see reflected more in advertising are mental health (63%), the environment (59%) and domestic violence/abuse (58%).

Commenting on the findings, Keith Weed, president of the Advertising Association, said: “I applaud the scale and ambition of our industry, recorded in this report. The work we do, investing billions of pounds and millions of working hours to make advertising with a social contribution, is something we should all be proud of.

“More importantly, there is a clear and impassioned desire to do more. Brands and advertising practitioners want to show, through the very best of advertising, what we can do for society.”

This article first appeared in

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