4A’s Proposes Set of Guidelines For Reviews With Consultants

In a move that symbolizes how much search consultants have permeated the affairs of ad agencies, the American Association of Advertising Agencies is expected to release this week a proposal for rules of engagement in pitches run by third parties for clients.
A draft of the guidelines, obtained by Adweek, reflects the concerns many agency executives have expressed for years about what ulterior use, if any, search consultants make of the data gathered in the course of a review. The concerns have been heightened as some consultants have added compensation negotiation and agency recruiting to their portfolios.
The guidelines were crafted by the 4A’s new business committee, which is comprised only of agency executives. In response, one consultancy has decided to form its own committee to bring the client perspective to the issue. Morgan, Anderson & Co. here said it will launch a Client Consultant Roundtable in November that will be comprised of agency chief executives, clients and consultants.
The 4A’s is proposing that data supplied by agencies should be relevant to a specific search, confidentiality should be guaranteed, consultants working for advertisers should not solicit business from agencies and that shops should show restraint in responding to blind questionnaires.
Agency executives questioned the feasibility of the rules. “It’ll be damn near impossible for the 4A’s to enforce [them],” said a source. “You really think agencies won’t break ranks to save their own [bacon]?”
–with staff reports