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Leaders of the Association of National Advertisers did the ad industry a huge favor by discarding their divisive plan to recruit major ad agencies as dues-paying members. In throwing out the bad, a plan so poorly worked out and impolitically presented that it threatened the working relationships among industry groups, ANA now embraces something far better.

Self-examination by ad industry associations is good, and ANA, working with the American Association of Advertising Agencies this time, has come up with a plan to get an outside consultant's look at potential cooperative ventures.

This can produce useful results that reflect the unique strengths of ANA and the Four A's -- and the broad-based American Advertising Federation, too. Imagine a future joint meeting by ANA and Four A's, where the agenda could be split into separate sessions (for those that involved issues that divide buyers and sellers, such as compensation) and joint sessions where advertiser and agency leaders could together address the future of brand-building or media. Just imagine the top speakers who would compete to appear before such an audience.