ANA and 4A's Form Task Force in Wake of Rebate Controversy

Move Follows Uproar Over Presentation by Former MediaCom CEO Mandel

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Luis Di Como
Luis Di Como

The Association of National Advertisers has joined the American Association of Advertising Agencies to create a task force on media transparency populated with heavy hitters from both the marketer and agency camps to address issues over U.S. media rebates sparked by a presentation from former Mediacom CEO Jon Mandel at an ANA event last month.

The task force, to be co-chaired by ANA CEO Bob Liodice and 4A's CEO Nancy Hill, also includes marketing and media executives from the three biggest global advertisers -- Procter & Gamble Co., Unilever and L'Oreal – and media chiefs of the three largest agency holding companies -- WPP, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom.

Two of those marketers -- Unilever and L'Oreal -- are currently conducting media reviews. And speculation has been rising that P&G may join them soon, particularly in the wake of efforts announced yesterday to consolidate agencies in an attempt to cut $500 million in agency and production costs. The growing scrutiny caused by the rebate controversy led Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser to downgrade four agency holding companies he covers April 13.

Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond

The task force, set to start meeting next month and report to the industry later this year, includes ANA Chairman and Subway CMO Tony Pace; P&G Global Brand Officer and ANA Vice Chair Marc Pritchard; Unilever Senior VP-Global Media Luis Di Como; and L'Oreal USA Senior VP Omnimedia, Strategic Investments and Creative Solutions Nadine Karp McHugh.

On the agency side, it includes Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg; Starcom Mediavest Group Global CEO Laura Desmond; GroupM Chairman Irwin Gotlieb; and Omnicom Media Group Chairman-CEO Daryl Simm.

In a statement, Ms. Hill said the group aims to ensure "the longstanding partnership between clients and agencies is grounded in trust and understanding."

Mr. Liodice said, "We are genuinely pleased that the leaders of our industry recognize that transparency concerns -- real and perceived -- need to be addressed and mitigated. Media transactions have become increasingly complex, and our priorities must include recommended practices that enhance the understanding of the transaction processes."

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