Last December, the Wall Street Journal broke a story about the Department of Justice investigating agencies allegedly engaging in “bid rigging” and other anti-competitive practices to favor in-house production teams over independent studios. As it turned out, the investigation involved subpoenas of all four major holding companies.
In March, the Association of Independent Creative Editors (AICE) and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) both released internal memos detailing what they knew about the investigation’s progress as the Association of National Advertisers created a Production Transparency Task Force.
At the time the AICE said in a statement, “As a trade association, AICE’s policy is to refrain from commenting on the investigation itself but rather to focus on our continued push to raise awareness among advertisers about transparency issues in an effort to affect change in the non-transparent practices employed by ad agencies with in-house capabilities.”
In August, the ANA released its “Production Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry” report, which seemed to corroborate many of the allegations of “bid rigging” and other anti-competitive practices by holding companies.
The AICE responded with a statement reading in part, “This report does a good job of documenting where [transparency issues] are found, what form they take and what impact they have on the advertising production process. More importantly, it provides advertisers with a common-sense road map to help them address these concerns.”
Now the group is taking a more direct approach with a personal appeal to creatives at agencies themselves. A new video entitled “Avoid the Skip Button” argues that cutting out independent production and post-production companies doesn’t just hurt those production houses and clients, but also agencies themselves.
More specifically, it suggests that those awards agencies care so much about might disappear without the help of such third parties.
It’s notable for its appeal to the creatives’ self-interest. “Avoid the Skip Button” argues that the right production and post-production partners can mean the difference between a shelf full of awards or no awards, millions of views, or just another skip button magnet.
It concludes with the message “Agencies pushing to work in-house may not have your best interest in-mind,” followed by the tagline, “Dedicated to Better.”