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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Advertising Profession Ethics - A Gallup Poll

"More than 30 years ago, Howard Gossage, a legendary San Francisco advertising man, gave an interview to Time magazine in which he said of advertising, 'I don't know a single first class brain in the business who has any respect for it.' Afterward, he was appalled that none of his industry colleagues were upset by his remark and concluded that it was because they all agreed with him but were too lazy to do anything that might bring them some of that missing respect.

"More recently, in 1992 a Gallup poll asked consumers across America to rate 26 different professions according to the degree to which they trusted them.

"At the top of the list, with 65 percent of respondents giving them a 'very high' or 'high' ethical rating, were pharmacists, closely followed by the clergy, college teachers, medical doctors, and policemen. Far down the list, journalists lay in eleventh place with an ethical rating of 26 percent, senators and lawyers were sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, and real estate agents and congressmen placed nineteenth and twentieth. Languishing in twenty-fifth place, with only an 8 percent ethical rating, just behind insurance salesmen, were advertising practitioners.

"Only one profession received a lower ethical rating, and I would thus like to suggest that all advertising people reading this should pause for a moment, raise their eyes to the heavens, and give thanks for the very existence of car salesmen.

Jon Steel
Truth, Lies & Advertising: The Art of Account Planning. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998.