The trade groups representing commercial production companies and those engaged in post- production activities are joining forces to advocate as one on issues like fighting the rise of creative agencies taking production in-house.
The merger of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, or AICP, with the Association of Independent Creative Editors, or AICE, will take effect Jan. 1, the two organizations announced today. The group will be known as AICP and be led by Matt Miller, AICP's current president and CEO. Rachelle Madden, executive director of AICE, will report to Miller and take on the new title of VP for post-production and digital production affairs.
AICP was formed in 1972 to represent independent commercial producers. AICE began in 1998 when three independent groups representing editing companies formed a national association covering everything from color correction and visual effects specialists to music and sound designers. But with the rise of digital media and tighter timelines, there is less separation on who does what when it comes to making ads.
"Calling a company specifically post or specifically production is a little bit blurry these days, which lends itself to forming a larger community to speak to a wide array of issues and commonalities that exist within companies that specialize in certain areas," Miller says. The merger will also give the groups greater purchasing power when offering perks such as health benefits plans to members. Leaders also envision having a stronger lobbying voice on business issues.
AICP has nearly 350 general members, including highly regarded production companies such as Smuggler, Arts & Sciences and Biscuit. AICE has about 120 members.
The two groups have in recent years fought against forays by creative agencies onto their ad production turf. So-called in-house production has risen in popularity as creative shops confront time constraints and financial pressures. But agencies have come under fire for alleged "bid-rigging" schemes in which agencies are accused of encouraging production houses to increase their prices so that contracts are awarded to agencies' in-house teams.
The trade groups have pounced on the allegations as a way to encourage marketers to keep using production companies. For instance, at a meeting of the Association of National Advertisers earlier this year, AICE distributed postcards that directed marketing execs to an online video warning that "agencies who push work in-house may not have your best interests in mind."
AICP and AICE have also taken stances against lengthy payment term policies put in place by some marketers. In some cases marketers have adopted terms as long as 120 days. The money typically flows from marketers to ad agencies, which then pay production companies. But lengthy payment terms are a problem for production and post-production houses because labor laws and union contracts often dictate that people doing the work are paid promptly. So if the cash doesn't come quickly, production companies say they must borrow money to make the labor payments, which they say can increase project costs.