4A’s Opens Membership Doors

Media, PR and Promotion Shops Welcomed
NEW YORK–The American Association of Advertising Agencies is amending its membership qualifications, inviting independent media, public relations, corporate identity and sales promotion agencies to its ranks.
The move is meant to reflect the growing role of nontraditional players in all aspects of marketing, not to boost membership in the 560-member trade organization. Only those shops owned by ad agencies had been eligible for membership. Now, any organization that “creates and/or places advertising or marketing communications” can come aboard.
“Times are changing,” said 4A’s president and chief executive Burtch Drake. More nonadvertising agencies have become eligible for membership via acquisitions, leaving the independent shops behind. “It was a fairness issue,” he said.
Though some in ad circles bristle at the encroachment of management consultants in the agency business, for example, few seemed to object to the 4A’s more inclusive policy.
“Our business has become far more complex than simply creating 30-second commercials,” said Arty Selkowitz, chairman and chief executive of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Communications and chairman of the 4A’s Large Agency Committee, noting members will benefit from “a broader perspective of what communications is today.”
Tina Cohoe, president of Foote, Cone & Belding Direct, agreed. “It’s all blending together now,” she said.
Drake said the 4A’s is not expecting a “whole new raft of applications,” nor will the 81-year-old trade group change its name. “You don’t change your brand,” he said.