For too long people have placed blind trust in organizations and brands, which has only led to manipulation and abuse.

Society is now entering a new phase of healthy skepticism.

Only 24 percent of US citizens think the news media try to report on news without bias. “This represents a 17-point drop from last year and a 22-point drop from 2013,” the 2015 State of the First Amendment survey states. “In fact, the 24 percent who now say the media try to report news without bias is the lowest since we began asking this question in 2004.”

A Nation of Skeptics

When it comes to millennials (18-29 year olds), only 7 percent believe the media is unbiased. So, 93 percent of millennials believe the media is biased. The cynicism of 18- to 29-year-olds has never been higher," the Harvard Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson stated in 2014.

Millennial is not just a generation. It’s a skeptical attitude sweeping across generations.

For too long people have put blind trust in institutions and leaders. Blind trust corrupts.

It’s hard to have respect for someone who trusts you blindly, not because of anything you’ve done, but because of your brand or institutional name.

Advertising and marketing are at a crossroads today. Originally, much of marketing and advertising was to raise awareness.

But, today, people are very much aware. That’s why they search. They want detail, they want facts, they want something that at least approaches the truth. 

'I Don't Believe You'

The other side of awareness from a marketing perspective is often manipulation.

Advertising often happens to take attention away from something else. In today’s social media world, if a company’s product is so good, is so full of quality, why does it need to advertise so much?

Surely, the inherent quality of the product or service will create lots of satisfied customers who will tell their friends.

The reality is that many products and services have no inherent advantage over their competitors.

So advertising and marketing are used to invent brand differentiators.

It’s all a game. 

It’s all a con, and just like in all other areas of society, people are waking up to the fact that the media and the advertisers and the politicians, the priests and CEOs are not to be trusted.

Questionable Ethics

“High-end estate agents are helping foreign criminals launder money through London properties,” the Daily Mail reported in July 2015.

Despite being told that it was illegal money, agents such as Winkworth, Chard, Domus Nova and Marsh & Parsons agreed to move forward with a potential sale.

Around London, Marsh & Parsons is currently running a billboard campaign that states: “The Only Way Is Ethics.” You couldn’t make it up.

The result? 

People are avoiding advertising like the plague.

You are as likely to get hit by lightning as you are to click on a banner ad. And what’s the response of the advertising industry?

Native advertising, which is advertising that does its very best to fool the customer into thinking it’s not advertising.

Blind trust is gone. And gone with it are the traditional models of advertising, marketing and communication.

Today, we trust in use. Social media is not me and my brands. It’s my friends and me.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Martin Cathrae.