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We’re holding brands to higher standards than the leaders of our country

12th December 2019

Now in my thirties, I’m ashamed to say this is the first time I’ve really paid close attention to a general election and I’ve found the entire thing completely infuriating. On a daily basis, I’ve been left shocked at the sheer volume of false claims, use of loaded and often racist, sexist and homophobic language and a general disregard for the electorate… But haven’t we all.

It’s clichéd to say that politicians are renowned for avoiding and spinning the truth, but most would agree that this election has taken things a step further. This week, research by The Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising revealed that 88% (5,952) of the Conservative’s most widely promoted ads either featured claims which had been flagged by independent fact-checking organisations as not correct, or not entirely correct.

This will hit the news cycle for 24 hours and then we’ll move onto the next political ‘gaffe’ or ‘blunder’ and all is forgotten. But as a PR professional, I can’t let it slide when I know the truth and transparency standards that brands are held to. Brand leaders and politicians are miles apart. It’s incomprehensible to think that any brand could get away with almost 90% factually incorrect adverts or, even a rogue tweet.

How have we got to a place in society where brands, influencers and even reality TV stars are held to higher truth and transparency standards than the current leaders of the country? It’s down to consequence. If a CEO of one of the UK’s biggest companies continually lied in interviews, spewed incorrect facts and statistics and made blatantly unsubstantiated claims against its biggest rival, they’d be fired. The brand would become a laughing stock on social media, shares would fall and it may even fall victim to Cancel Culture.

This isn’t to say that the public hasn’t done its absolute best to continually call out this behaviour during the election. Pop onto Twitter every hour and there’s a new trend uncovering the latest fake news and straight up lie, but we’re left with nowhere to go.

As scary and frustrating as this time might be, the comms industry has been handed an opportunity to grab with both hands. As we head into 2020, we have the chance to work with our clients from the ground up, root them in integrity and position them as the more trustworthy source of advice, opportunity and inspiration than the leaders of the country. With the drive to make brands more purposeful, we can offer the public a hopeful alternative to policy-driven initiatives, engaging communities and telling positive stories, without political motivation.

Government distrust is likely to be at an all time high, so let’s make brands the truthful and transparent option. 

Hannah Lynch, associate director, Alfred