ASC research shows Canadians are Sticklers for the Truth when it comes to Advertising

TORONTO, Dec. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadians understand and accept the role advertising plays in their lives and most have a favourable impression of advertising. But truth in advertising is paramount to them - and they will change their purchasing behaviour if an ad is unacceptable to them. These are some of the findings of the latest consumer research conducted for Advertising Standards Canada (ASC).

More than 1,500 Canadians participated in the on-line poll designed by The Gandalf Group to take the pulse of Canadians' impressions and perceptions of the advertising they see, hear and read every day.

"When it comes to advertising, Canadians are clear, truth is paramount," said Linda J. Nagel, President and CEO of Advertising Standards Canada. "Advertising that fails to meet consumer expectations can have a direct impact on an advertiser's bottom line. Canadians speak with their wallets, and if an ad is not acceptable to them they have - and will - shop elsewhere."

Key Findings about Canadian Attitudes towards Advertising 

  • 79% of Canadians understand and accept the role that advertising plays in supporting the content they enjoy.
  • The majority of Canadians agree that advertising is helpful in their decision making as consumers.
  • When asked to provide examples of advertising that bothers or offends them, 41% cited issues related to misleading or false advertising, followed far behind by 12% who cited issues with sexual content and 11% who cited issues with stereotypical depictions.
  • When asked to choose, by a large margin, respondents say they are more concerned with advertising they find misleading (85%) than personally offensive (15%).
  • 92% of respondents say they would be likely to stop purchasing a product or service if the company offering it ran advertising they considered unacceptable because it was not truthful, was not accurate or was offensive to them.  In fact, 61% say they have stopped purchasing a company's product or service because the company's ads were unacceptable to them.

Essentially, Canadians want ads to inform. There appears to be an understanding and comfort that advertising exists to persuade, but Canadians want them to do so in a truthful manner.

In fact, 85% of respondents found the following to be unacceptable to them in advertising: promoting "free" products or services that are subject to fees; not including all costs in the advertised price; using image-altering software to highlight the results that can be achieved from product use; and inaccurately depicting what a product is or can do.

Canadian Values and Advertising
The survey results demonstrate the influence of advertising in shaping the values of society; 47%   believe advertising shapes societal values, while 41% believe advertising mirrors societal values.

"Canadians' views on advertising are reflective of our changing society and how we as Canadians welcome and embrace diversity," said David Herle, Principal Partner, The Gandalf Group. "A large majority of Canadians are accepting of ads that portray same-sex couples or families. This is a major shift from what we would have seen just a few years ago, and shows the inclusiveness of our society."

Canadians overwhelmingly find the following unacceptable in advertising: themes of violence, ageism, sexism and racism; demeaning portrayals of persons with disabilities; poor treatment of animals; disrespect for the environment; and depictions of bullying. "The research shows a compassionate Canada. Canadians are unequivocal in their disapproval of advertising that demeans or denigrates others, particularly those who are vulnerable," said Linda J. Nagel.

And finally, not surprisingly, a gender gap exists in views on what is acceptable in advertising. Men are more comfortable than women with nudity—either male or female nudity—sexual themes and unrealistic body depictions.

Advertising Standards Canada 
Founded in 1957, ASC is the national independent advertising industry self-regulatory body committed to creating and maintaining public confidence in advertising.  ASC members - leading advertisers, advertising agencies, media and suppliers to the advertising industry - are committed to supporting responsible and effective advertising self-regulation.  A not-for-profit organization, ASC administers the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, the principal instrument of advertising self-regulation in Canada, and a national mechanism for accepting and responding to consumers' complaints about advertising.

The Gandalf Group
The Gandalf Group is a provider of public opinion research, strategic communications advice and issues management. The company combines expertise in advanced statistical research, law, branding and communications strategies.

About the Study
In 2013, ASC commissioned The Gandalf Group to measure Canadians' opinions about advertising. In October 2013, a randomly-drawn representative survey of 1,534 adult Canadians focused on understanding Canadians' attitudes about advertising.

The ASC Survey: 2013 Consumer Perspectives on Advertising can be downloaded at:

SOURCE: Advertising Standards Canada

For further information:

Carolyn Carson
Hill & Knowlton Canada
Tel: 613-786-9961


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