Last week, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, ANA President John Sarsen said that while agencies are no longer being asked to join, a consultant will be hired to build a bridge between the two trade organizations.
"We decided to suspend our offer inviting agencies as members pending a study that the ANA and the Four A's will take on," he said.
O. Burtch Drake, president-CEO of the Four A's, said he has been discussing this with the ANA for the past six months and believes the move to be in the best interests of both.
"There's been a misperception that the Four A's and the ANA are at war. We're not at war," he said. "The main focus will be how can we help [the two organizations] work together."
Both groups will contribute to the consulting fees.
DECISION RELIEVES PRESSURE
Most agency executive did not want to comment publicly on the ANA decision. However, many privately expressed relief. Some agency officials were feeling client pressure to join, although even the ones who didn't face that said the new move was wise.
Procter & Gamble Co. was said to have endorsed the idea and even went so far as to encourage its agencies to join the ANA.
There was dissension about the initial invitation even among the members of the ANA board. Some were said to be concerned about having agencies join an organization where internal discussions might be about cutting compensation costs and rocky agency relationships.
TIMING AGAIN A SURPRISE
When the initial announcement was made by the ANA, it created a stir among agencies and within the Four A's organization. In fact, Mr. Drake was only notified of the decision just minutes before the ANA announced its intentions at its annual meeting in October.
The timing of this latest ANA move also was a surprise. It came in the middle of the Four A's meeting just minutes after Mr. Drake had finished his opening