If You're Not With Us, We're Against You

I was in the U.K. for the last seven days, and I can report that Christmas is already in full swing there. Stores are decked out with Christmas trees, the television is full of Christmas advertising, and I even had my first minced pie. That’s what you get in a country where they do not celebrate Thanksgiving, and thus there is nothing between autumn and the first days of Christmas.

But it is a timely reminder that we are swiftly approaching the end of the year, and that means that I have also spotted the first articles with headlines like: “The best XXXX (advertising, emojis, pop-up stores, etc.) of 2016.”

It has always been unclear to me by what standard any of these listicles are compiled. I am not aware of any ANA committees, 4A’s Judging Panels or IAB data analysis that bestows these honors at the end of the year. It is magic. Or possibly just a few bored journalists ranking cat videos. (By the way, the 2016 number-one cat video must be the Whiskas Temptations Christmas ad, which is being shared around on social media. ).



For me, the story of the year remains the ANA/K2/Ebiquity review of U.S. media practices — especially how the industry has been completely impotent to do anything productive with that info.

In fact, as we have witnessed this season in politics, the gap between the two parties has widened rather than closed, and there does not seem to be any willingness to do anything about it. The 4A’s and its individual members especially seem to have made it their mission to discredit, pooh-pooh and belittle the findings.

It really does sound like the presidential political campaign. The media holding companies and 4A’s have publicly questioned the findings, saying that the survey participants’ anonymity was suspicious. Meanwhile, in all other surveys anywhere in the world, all participants are ALWAYS kept confidential.

WPP’s Martin Sorrell than went on record to state that Ebiquity was not to be trusted, because as far as he is concerned it’s not a real auditor. Plus, WPP and Ebiquity had a spat in Australia when seven years ago, through a fault of WPP’s, confidential data was accidentally sent to Firm Decisions, an Ebiquity business (can you say “email server”?).

And last week we heard Irwin Gotlieb, head of WPP’s GroupM, explain that the whole ANA/K2/Ebiquity investigation was nothing more than “an attempt" by "auditors” and “forensic investigation firms” to drum up business.) He said: “I’m going to be really harsh. The entire effort was a biz-dev [business-development] effort. … The ANA allowed themselves to be part of a third-party’s business development.”

Yeah, that makes sense! Of course, the ANA thought it would be a great use of their time and member resources to help K2 and Ebiquity attract some new business. Or perhaps the ANA was duped into funding the investigation by those crooked auditors because the ANA’s members are so stupid that they would fall for that. What will the agency holding companies say next? That the system is rigged? Well, at least that would be closer to the truth!

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