James Dyson, the country’s best known inventor, has called for a “truth in advertising law” and has slammed traditional market research for not being able to cope with new product launches in a speech to the Marketing Society annual conference on Tuesday.
Dyson told the conference that unless a law is brought in to guarantee truth in advertising the public would lose confidence in marketers in the same way that they have in politicians and the press.
He added: “We need truth in advertising. Regulators should prevent your clients pressing you to pretend their products have qualities they don’t have. Otherwise, we’ll all lose in the long term. Public trust will be lost.”
Dyson also denied widespread claims that he is “anti-advertising and anti-ad agencies”. But he did say that too many marketing, PR and advertising campaigns are “misinformed or oversell”.
He also hit out against traditional market research, which he believes cannot allow for new products and innovative ideas because it looks at the existing market. He pointed to the launch of the Mini, which in pre-launch market research found that consumers thought it looked “silly”. Mini has since sold 5.3 million vehicles.
Dyson also claimed that marketers have too much power and that “we accord more value to spin than to substance”. He added that the balance towards marketing needs to be redressed in favour of engineers and inventors.
He warned delegates: “Britain, the nation that started the agrarian and the industrial revolutions, is in danger of slipping behind the competition in the global revolution.”