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At its last conference, the Association of National Advertisers' invitation to agencies caused a ruckus with the American Association of Advertising Agencies. This year, its revocation caused the stir.

At the opening breakfast of ANA's 90th annual conference Oct. 10, the group told members it was reneging on the invitation, which had caused consternation among the Four A's membership. The agency group, which had been blindsided by last year's announcement, had registered concerns on the grounds that the two organizations have agendas that are often at odds.

ANA President-CEO John Sarsen Jr. told Advertising Age his group's change of heart came because "We assumed that . . . it would not disrupt the [Four A's]. But the agencies saw it as an either-or situation, and we didn't want to decimate the Four A's."

That statement prompted the ire of Four A's President-CEO O. Burtch Drake, who said outside consultant Michael Allen Co. had interviewed both memberships and concluded "a majority of ANA board members didn't want to invite [agencies] to join ANA" and "a significant majority of the Four A's board was totally opposed to it."

A joint meeting has been tentatively slated for April to discuss issues of concern to both parties, namely compensation issues and the use of search consultants in the new-business process.

Mr. Drake also bristled at the suggestion that ANA membership could have been the ruination of the Four A's.

"Even if [agency members did join ANA], it wouldn't have 'decimated' us," Mr. Drake contended, adding that by some measures, such as revenue and resources,

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