Published on .

The council of better Business Bureaus president-designate, former Chief Postal Inspector Ken Hunter, sat down with ad industry association leaders for a get-acquainted dinner last week. With the future direction of national ad self-regulation on the line, what the new CBBB head and the ad association chiefs need to chew over, however, is who will pick up the tab for giving new energy and direction to a program that has been permitted to drift into near obscurity.

The nearly 30-year-old partnership between national ad groups and the CBBB that created the National Advertising Review Council and national ad self-regulation is frayed. The NARC-backed National Advertising Division, Children's Advertising Review Unit and National Advertising Review Board have been a success story, but the association chiefs want a more vigorous champion of self-regulation. CBBB, which manages the $1.5 million a year program's day-to-day operations, has been left the role of The Grinch: "Show me the money!"

Coming from the U.S. Postal Service, raising money from corporations is not in Mr. Hunter's background. But the chiefs of the ad groups -- the Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies and American Advertising Federation -- live with it every day. And it's money that's needed if there's to be a more active NARC/NAD program. Perhaps $300,000 a year will be required to hire a high-profile NARC president to succeed former ad executive Wally O'Brien, whose departure last year was tied to money issues.

The trap for Mr. Hunter and the ad association chiefs to avoid is bickering exclusively over how existing funds are spent. Their real task is a selling job: Convince advertisers and agencies it's in their interest to invest in a bold self-regulation program.

The industry CEOs of 1971 came to see that wisdom. Can CBBB and ad association

Most Popular