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What exactly makes a gift a gift?

By Published on .

Is taking a ride in an Aston Martin or having dinner at Nobu the same as receiving a gift? There are as many answers to that question as there are new-business people.

An informal Ad Age survey of agency consultants found that neither individual advertising agencies nor search consultants have formal guidelines or best practices regulating gift giving or other overtures.

The leading industry associations don't have them either. "Every client is different. It's hard to have guidelines on accepting gifts or even meals," said Bill Duggan, exec VP, Association of National Advertisers. It's up to agencies set their own gift-giving guidelines, said a spokesman for the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Linda Fidelman, president, Advice & Advisors, said she always arranges a social meeting as part of her reviews. "You don't hire someone without taking them out to lunch," she said. A number of consultants do say they may warn agencies not to talk directly with the client because it would be grounds for dismissal for the review. Others expect agencies to independently check into client regulations regarding acceptance of gifts.
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