Americans Pour Their Trust into Soft Drinks, Poll Reveals

Who do Americans trust more these days – J.P. Morgan or Dr. Pepper?

If you’re employed by the soft drink industry, then raise your glass. Because when it comes to peddling products one in three Americans may trust your advertising most.

A recent poll by Adweek Media/Harris Interactive asked participants to rank their trust in advertising messaging across five industries: soft drink, fast food, pharmaceutical, automobile and financial services.

Survey said? One third of Americans – or 34 percent – believe soft-drink companies are the most honest in their ad messaging.  On the flip side, close to two in five U.S. adults – or 38 percent – put the least amount of stock in financial companies.

While these numbers may initially seem like wow, as strategic communicators we may want to take a closer look.  Maybe we’re not really comparing apples to apples.

All told, the survey shows that the soft drink category outpaces the others by 12 percent.

The poll goes on to reveal that the fast food industry ranks second in trust (earning 22 percent of consumers’ trust), the pharmaceutical category ranks third (18 percent), and the auto industry in fourth (14 percent). Lastly is the financial services category with just 13 percent of the consumer vote.

Impressive numbers for advertisers like Pepsi and Roy Rogers. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t step back and question whether measuring soft drinks against pharmaceuticals is fair.

Can we really benchmark Coke’s subliminal messages of fun and sunshine against a commercial aired by GlaxoSmithKline?

The average American household watches eight hours and 15 minutes of television every day; the average American is exposed to 167 commercials daily*.

When you leverage these numbers against the AdWeek poll, the take home is two-fold:

  1. Content is king – we know our brands, but we must know our audiences and how to engage and connect with them to build their trust.
  2. Advertising might not always be the best vehicle to drive consumer confidence. Perhaps we’re better off considering social media or integrated PR campaigns to build a brand.

A quick glance around a dinner table with friends offers the reality of what we’re all up against when trying to win consumer confidence and earn market share.  Our jobs range from selling to children, to selling books, to selling bonds, to selling drugs.

Despite what Dr. Pepper/7 Up would like us to believe, we’re not all Peppers. Although it sure would be nice.

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