While the big agency holding companies are pretty much uniform in their denouncements of the ANA-K2 study, at least one agency is disappointed with the 4As’ “prioritizing the holding companies” in the formation of its own transparency principles and with the group’s inability to work better with the ANA to find common ground on the issue.
The agency is Empower MediaMarketing, the Cincinnati-based media agency, which today indicated that it has “suspended” its membership in the 4As indefinitely over the transparency issue.
In a letter to clients, posted on its Web site, Empower CEO Jim Price also noted his disappointment with the ANA report’s reliance on anonymity.
“In principle, while we agree with the 4A’s transparency statement and we are in compliance, we have been disappointed in the 4A’s prioritizing holding companies in developing these principles and their inability to work with the ANA,” Price wrote.
"In addition, we’re disappointed the names of people and the agencies who have violated clients’ trust were not released at this time. It’s an unfair blanket allegation on those who have always done what’s in the best interest of their clients, like Empower."
Price that effective today, Empower has decided to suspend its membership with the 4A’s “until they further identify who is in violation and how they plan to take action. It’s not in the best interest of our clients and Empower to be associated with agencies who have clearly dishonored clients’ trust.”
Price added that the agency will evaluate options “once the 4A’s has responded and the violators have been identified.”
“In the interim, we want to say again (like we have in all 31 years), we welcome audits at any time,” Price wrote. “Kickbacks, rebates and lack of transparency have never been, and will never, be a concern during your partnership with Empower.”
The 4As issued this response: “We are disappointed in Mr. Price's decision. The 4A’s is, and has been, working on solutions regarding Transparency for all our Members. We too are disappointed that the ANA has painted the entire industry with the same negative brush as we made clear in our statement earlier today. The 4As works on behalf of hundreds of agencies of all shapes and sizes, across the U.S. on all kinds of industry issues. We expect all our Members to operate by the transparency principles we issued earlier this year created by a task force that included both holding company and independent agency perspectives.”