Claire Beale On Advertising: Adland goes on the offensive in fight for survival

It is the mark of a troubled industry that the advertising business is suddenly tooling itself up with new think-tanks and foundations as it prepares to battle for survival.

You see, creative brilliance and a flair for persuasion are no longer enough to win advertising agencies respect in their clients' boardrooms. And all that creative brilliance and flair for persuasion has done little to convince the public, anti-advertising pressure groups and the Government that advertising is responsible, trustworthy and a key economic driver.

Ad budgets are being slashed, agencies' work is less valued than ever and advertising freedoms are coming under increasing pressure. Something must be done, so – finally – adland is doing it. The industry founded on emotion and creativity is turning to science and fact for its defence.

First to doff the gloves was the Advertising Association, which last week launched the Front Foot Foundation. The AA represents the interests of advertisers, agencies and media owners and now its new chief executive, Tim Lefroy, is asking those constituents to stump up more cash. The AA wants more money to fund better research with which the industry can go on the offensive, armed with robust facts and data not just supposition and crossed fingers.

The association has discovered that only 15 per cent of adults trust advertising, and this at a time when the right to advertise (alcohol, toys, junk food) is constantly being called into question. In the past five years alone, 125 new pieces of legislation controlling advertising and marketing freedoms have been imposed. The AA needs hard proof that advertising can be a social and economic force for good. And if more ammo isn't put behind advertising's cause, the AA argues, there might not be an advertising industry in years to come.

Of course, it's a terrible time for the AA to be passing round the begging bowl, asking companies to commit up to £50,000 each. Redundancies, pay and hiring freezes abound but will AA members dig deep to take a long-term view? Shareholders and the City won't thank them for it right now. But the AA's Front Foot Foundation wasn't adland's only line of defence/attack opened up last week. Down at the IPA, battle plans were also being drawn up.

Since Rory Sutherland took over as president of the IPA earlier this year, he has brought a greater intellectual rigour to proceedings and that took a sharper form last week when the IPA unveiled its Behavioural Economics Think Tank (BETT for short, though this gives it a rather tentative air).

Again it's about proving the value of advertising, or perhaps more accurately it's about proving how valuable advertising agencies can be to their clients if they begin to employ the principles of behavioural economics. And again it's about arming the industry with science and facts.

Behavioural economics uses science to further the understanding of why we do what we do; and applying that understanding to advertising can increase its effectiveness. Sutherland, inspired by the book Nudge by Dick Thaler and Cass Sunstein, is really quite evangelical about the potential of behavioural economics and full of fascinating examples. Like how our behaviour is affected by the price we've paid for something, so people who pay more for over-the-counter pain relief products report more effective pain relief than those who buy a cheaper brand, even though the only variable is price.

The IPA hopes these new insights into consumers will help agencies develop closer relationships with their clients. This way, agencies might just have a chance of building their business beyond the commoditised, discountable and low-valued supply of ads. Taken together, the AA and IPA initiatives represent a credible fight-back by the advertising industry. Both, though, will take time and money to nurture – two commodities in short supply in adland right now.

Best in Show: Fire safety (Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R)

It's a business under the cosh, but much of the work of advertising is about helping us lead healthier, safer lives. Take the latest ad by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. For what is effectively a public safety announcement, this is a beautiful ad. It compares breathing in smoke and drowning, so we see a couple drowning in their bed as the paraphernalia of everyday life floats by. It's an arresting image that hooks you until the endline: "Don't drown in toxic smoke, test your smoke alarm weekly". And it's a powerful argument for the role of advertising.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Full Stack Software Developer

£35k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game