Here's Why, Burtch: Money

And Dan Wieden Is Still Mad at the 4A's

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- O. Burtch Drake had a few pointed questions for the industry in a recent speech to the Association of National Advertisers' Agency-Client Relations Forum. This week, he's getting an answer to one of them.
O. Burtch Drake may start getting answers to some of his open-ended questions.
O. Burtch Drake may start getting answers to some of his open-ended questions. Credit: Art Beaulieu

Lots of questions
The departing president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies questioned everything from why marketers are so quick to call agency reviews to why they have come to so value USA Today's Super Bowl ad poll. In the process, he also asked why some of the nation's hottest shops -- Wieden & Kennedy and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, in particular -- haven't joined the 4A's.

Here's why: money.

Dan Wieden will never be part of the organization, according to his spokeswoman, because the shop felt rejected when it applied for membership in 1982. When Mr. Wieden wrote to the association seeking membership at that time, questions were raised about the agency's financial stability. Even these many years later, a mention of the ad association in Wieden's corporate headquarters has a certain taboo.

"When we started, they wouldn't accept us," the spokeswoman said.

A 4A's spokesman said that, since then, the organization has added a path for smaller shops to meet its financial requirements as a "service for new agencies."

Not worth the cost of joining
At Goodby, Partner and General Manager Harold Sogard said money also is an issue in his shop's refusal to join the group. "We aren't anti-social, but we never felt the value of what we might receive was equivalent to the cost," Mr. Sogard said. "We appreciate the lobbying and once offered to contribute, but they refused. They said, 'Be a complete member or nothing.'"

Fees to join the 4A's are based on agency gross income and range from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on an agency's size. Goodby's proposed contribution was in the four figures, according to one executive familiar with the situation.

The 4A's has some 400 agencies representing 1,200 offices in the U.S., the organization's spokesman said.
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