Holding Companies Scream 'We Don't Do That!' In Advance of 'Explosive' Agency Kickback Study

In advance of the Association of National Advertisers’ report on the advertising agency rebate situation which Business Insider bombastically called an "explosive bombshell," ad agency holding companies are scurrying about denying any wrongdoing, even though the report is said to indicate the practice is widespread. 

In The Wall Street Journal, holding companies lined up with prepared statements distancing themselves from the impending debacle. First up was Havas which, through CEO Colin Kinsella, said: “We comply with all regulations in the U.S., and we do not accept rebates in the United States. On the transparency side, we work with clients to achieve desirable levels of transparency in all facets of our business.”  



Next, Dentsu Aegis issued a statement which read: “We do not accept non-disclosed rebates, and we believe our existing process as it stands is robust and transparent for our clients and our business. Our media-buying process is clear, audited and subject to rigorous compliance processes, and all our clients have the ability to audit us.”  

WPP’s GroupM said, “like the 4As, we don’t comment on anonymous and unspecific allegations. We have also not seen the report. We have always maintained that if individual clients have questions of us they should contact us directly. If there are allegations that are specific to GroupM, we will demand to see the details so that we can fully investigate and fulfill our contractual obligations. If the details are not forthcoming, we will take steps to compel the ANA or their investigators or their advisors to provide the material.” 

As for Omnicom, their statement read: “While we have not seen ANA’s study -- it is disappointing to hear the results are broad-based allegations against the entire advertising media industry. In order to serve advertisers it seems to us that the specific findings of the study need to be shared with the advertisers and agencies that are implicated in practices that are indeed identified as troublesome. If such issues exist, how else are advertisers to resolve them with their agencies?” 

Interpublic chimed in with: “We have and will continue to modernize our transparency practices as the industry evolves. In the U.S. we do not partake in volume rebates with our media partners and do not use any value realized by our media agencies to drive trade credits to other lines of business.” 

Publicis declined to comment. 

Time will tell just how crazy this situation will get once the report is released which is said to be very soon. There's going to be a lot of finger pointing and defense posturing in the next couple of weeks surrounding this topic.  

It should be fun!

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