Consultants Slam 4A’s Effort

Top consultants last week flatly dismissed an initiative by the American Association of Advertising Agencies to devise standards for speculative creative work and requests for proposals, citing the competitive nature of the agency business.
“We don’t use questionnaires. Nor would we, even if the 4A’s established guidelines about commonality of questionnaires,” said Alan Krinsky of New York-based ADvice & ADvisors.
“Let them do questionnaires to their hearts’ content,” agreed Bill Weilbacher, whose consultancy, Bismark Corp. in Dennis, Mass., has handled searches for Merrill Lynch and Reebok International. “I don’t use questionnaires.”
To win big accounts, agencies are willing to provide any information and spend as much money as they see fit, Weilbacher said. For that reason, the proposed guidelines to define spec work and measure costs [Adweek, Oct. 26] will be “irrelevant” and “unenforceable,” he said.
The effort “compromises the job the consultant does and takes away any special flair and differentiation we have,” said Boston consultant Jack Rossin, who with partner Dave Murphy has overseen reviews for Sebago and others.
“We are not about enforcing or imposing,” countered 4A’s chief executive Burtch Drake, who noted that the forthcoming guidelines are for agencies, clients and consultants “to use as they see fit.”
Some consultants have been asked to contribute data to the process.
With the 4A’s opening its membership ranks to consultants and clients, there may still be time to foster a broader dialogue that yields workable review parameters, said Skip Pile of Boston-based Pile and Co. –with Hank Kim