To me, 2017 can only be defined by one thing. That is the shattering of trust. Every which way you look, trust was decimated. Like a wine glass dropped on kitchen tiles, a broken window, a cracked mirror looking back at the world, tiny fragments of what was previously taken from granted, believed in and relied upon, now lays scattered on the ground.
Dramatic? Maybe. But it’s certainly the case that we are regarding the truth in a very different light.
Donald Trump continues to rule the US with flagrant disregard for any kind of truth except that which he himself decides. His manipulation of facts spawned the 'post truth’ era in which we now sit. Facts are ignored in favour of emotional outburts and claims backed up with nothing but more unfounded claims.
In Hollywood the Harvey Weinstein scandal has opened up a seedy world that shows it’s difficult to know who to trust.
In Australia we have politicians - a deputy prime minister even - who were found to be ineligible for the posts they've held for years. The leadership of the country is entrusted with the future of the nation, and yet cannot be trusted to declare, or even be aware of their own nationality.
We have a prime minster who instead of making strong decisions, and offering leadership that people can get behind and rely on, issued a costly and offensive non-binding survey to canvas views that are already clear on equal marriage.
Beyond politics, YouTube was clobbered with brand safety concerns after advertisers found they couldn't always trust where their ads were going. And take a look at Facebook. It’s problems with the veracity of its numbers continued into this year.
AdNews unearthed that it clams to be able to reach 1.7 million more millennials than the census says exist in Australia. A similar pattern replays globally. Just last week it admitted 270 million (12%) of its user base is actually fake accounts. Twitter, too, admitted it had over estimated its user base for the past three years.
If these are the facts we’re being given - and accepting - what now?
Trust was the rather weighty theme for The Annual this year. I asked a range of business leaders from across marketing, media, adtech and creative to offer me their reflections on trust for the year gone by. How truth and trust have changed and how that impacts them, the way they lead, and what they foresee for next year. It's not all doom and gloom - there’s some optimism in there too. Largely, it boils down to relationships and believing in people. We'll be rolling out the Marketer's Perspectives Series online so keep an eye out for them. If you want to check them out now, I recommend downloading a digital edition of The Annual here.
And that, is all for now. So long 2017. It's been interesting, as usual. Let's hope for a slightly more positive 2018.
This article first appeared in print in The Annual. Hunt down your copy of the final print edition of 2017 now.
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