There’s a new target in town when it comes to Americans’ blame-game for their economic woes: advertising.

In a fascinating new Harris Poll, cleverly timed for publication on 2009 Tax Day, the Poll found that most Americans blame various media outlets for persuading them to buy things they didn’t need or couldn’t afford.

It’s not just the big bad banks who pushed irrationally-modeled mortgages on us unsuspecting home buyers. And those greedy auto companies building big, bad oil-guzzling SUVs.

It’s the Mad Men Who Made Us Do It. That is, spend too much money.

There are variations across age groups for which media types are to blame for economic woes. Interestingly, those over 55 years of age are most likely to blame ad agencies — 75% of Americans 55+ feel this way, compared with 60% of people 18-34.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The tandem issues of trust and authenticity are on my mind this week as we’re kicking off the fourth meeting of Health 2.0, this season in Boston co-hosted by the Center for Information Therapy. As we meet to continue our dialogue on what’s driving the adoption of the Social Internet in health, one indisputable mega-force is moving health citizens en masse online – looking for trusted relationships to help manage health in all its guises: clinical, fiscal, emotional, physical.

There’s other recent research into consumers’ current feelings about advertising finding that people have grown tired and untrusting of the same-old, same-old. This is driving more consumer-facing companies toward the Social Internet, with more experimentation in the new media, meeting people where they’re looking for some Truth.

But not Truth in Advertising; Truth in Discourse, in Conversation.

As we think about the business models that will work for health in and on the Social Internet, keeping that ultimate Truths top-of-mind – trust and authenticity – will be a critical success factor in doing good, and doing well for and with health citizens. Looking at the oldest cohort of Americans who are most likely to blame ad agencies for the economic crisis — and realizing these are the heaviest consumers of health services — should motivate some new thinking around how to work with older health citizens on the social web.

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