Credos, set up by the Advertising Association earlier this year, found that “opinion formers” – politicians, NGO executives, academics and industry figures – cannot develop an argument for the benefits of advertising.
Most can identify the benefits – potentially lower prices for customers and higher sales for business – but fail to “make the conceptual leap” to broader economic or social benefits, the think-thank says.
Credos director Karen Fraser says the lack of understanding means opinion formers are “less likely to make decisions that will support the advertising industry and promote economic growth”.
“The public, once they recognise the contribution advertising makes – economically, culturally and socially – are more accepting of advertising,” she adds.
The research also found that 41% of consumers believe that advertising puts pressure on children and families, while 35% believe advertising puts pressure on parents to spend money. “Opinion formers” also expressed concern about marketing to young children.
The findings follow Prime Minster David Cameron’s comments last week that marketers have been guilty of an “irresponsible free-for-all” in the pursuit of growth.
Credos, set up to boost understanding of the UK advertising industry, says the research “provides an indication of the future challenges facing the UK advertising industry”.