Shops React to 4A’s Client Poll

Agencies gave a mixed reaction to the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ proposals to define speculative creative work and measure its actual costs for shops, and to devise a standard review questionnaire for clients. The 4A’s recommendations came last week after it surveyed more than 50 major advertisers and almost 30 search consultants.
Charlie Taney, president of Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, said the trade group’s efforts “can help raise the client’s consciousness on what a difficult issue [spec creative] is for agencies.” Shops are usually paid at a loss for spec creative. “I wish advertising agencies thought enough of their most important asset, the creative product, not to give it away.”
Others were skeptical. “To me, it seems like trying to regulate sex,” said Colin Probert, president of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. “Clients really want to see ads and we will go all the way to get their business.”
The survey found that although 68 percent of clients saw spec creative as useful in a review, 64 percent of consultants thought it was either “neutral” or not useful.
Taney said he hoped the survey would encourage companies to focus on other skills offered by agencies, such as strategic thinking, experience and affinity for the client.
Publicis, New York, president Tony DeGregorio added: “It’s a great idea to define [spec work] so you make the playing field level.”
The concern of some shops that a standardized questionnaire would blur the distinctions between agencies will be looked at, said Burtch Drake, the 4A’s chief executive.”Basic information can be standardized while still leaving room for an agency to customize,” he said. The 4A’s is hoping to find ways to make reviews quicker and cheaper.
Also in the findings: the majority of advertisers cited “general dissatisfaction” with agencies as the trigger for reviews, but consultants cited “client management change.”
Among the survey’s respondents were Procter & Gamble, Burger King and Ford Motor Co. –with Jane Irene Kelly