A JOB FOR THE ANA

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Word that the American Association of Advertising Agencies wants to set up a code of ethics for agency search consultants recalls its attempt to establish ethical guidelines for political consultants. It then felt the consultants' campaign and issue advertising excesses were giving a bad name to all advertising. The consultants, not pleased, told the Four A's to clean its own stables.

This time the Four A's is doing it right. It is taking its case to the Association of National Advertisers, where so many of the agencies' big-gun clients have influence. Their major complaint is that consultants that help advertisers select new ad agencies seek sensitive agency financial information, which is then used to help negotiate agency compensation. Some consultants, agencies say, sell themselves on the basis of how well they can drive down an agency's fee.

In the days of agency giants, no client looking for an agency would let a consultant deprive him of a visit with a David Ogilvy, a Leo Burnett or a Bill Bernbach. But today, with mostly low-profile agency bosses and the 15% commission system in tatters, clients let consultants do much of the work.

If abuses exist, it's the ANA that should attack them. Re-establishing agency-client partnerships is a two-way street.

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