4A’s Issues ‘Idea’ Guidelines

NEW YORK The American Association of Advertising Agencies has issued best practices guidelines designed to help shops retain ownership of the ideas they present during account reviews.

“The agency search/new business process should not be used by marketers as a mechanism to generate a bank of ideas and materials,” the organization said in a position paper issued this week.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, based here, also listed topics that clients and agencies should discuss before a review process gets fully under way.

It called for the agency search process to be “efficient, timely and equitable,” and said both sides and consultants should use 4A’s tools to facilitate the process; establish a clear understanding on how spec work will be used; and understand the processes for each phase of a pitch.

Click here for the position paper.

“Advertising payment to agencies for participation should specify that payment is solely intended to offset agency cost of participation in the review and does not alter the agency’s ownership of agency-developed presentation concepts and materials,” the guidelines state. “In advance of conducting search meetings or presentations, the marketer and participating agencies should discuss how ownership, license or usage rights of agency-developed ideas, plans and work will be handled.”

If agencies consent to sell their work to clients, the 4A’s suggests how that can be done fairly to both parties.

One way is through a “one-shot” buyout of a concept; another could be payments over time for the duration of a client’s use of the agency’s concepts; and still another could cover a fee if the client decides to use an agency’s ideas at a later date.

The guidelines conclude with the 4A’s saying that “marketers that are seeking a long-term communications partnership with an advertising agency respect agency work and value it fairly.”