Well, this is interesting. Monday night the ANA Educational Foundation honored -- I repeat, honored -- the 4As with its annual Agency Award.
As I’m sure you’re well aware, the ANA and 4As have been slapping each other around at every opportune moment over the last couple of years.
The divisive issue: transparency in the advertiser-agency relationship.
Back in 2015, the groups formed a task force to develop guidelines on transparency, after a scathing presentation earlier that year by Jon Mandel. The former MediaCom CEO told an ANA gathering that agencies were ubiquitously scamming their clients via undisclosed rebates and related non-transparent practices.
But after nearly a year of collaboration, the two groups couldn’t agree on a single set of principles.
The 4As issued guidelines of its own and the ANA cried foul — and launched its own transparency investigation and subsequent report, which the 4As condemned as anonymous and one-sided. The gloves have been off ever since.
But now, says a source in the know, the ANA believes it is time to repair the relationship if possible -- and the AEF award can be seen as a “bit of an olive branch” in that direction. “It’s a signal.”
The source added that the ANA, for one, believes the two groups can and should find common ground and work together more closely, as they did before the split over transparency.
One indication that the 4As is receptive is that the group’s CEO Marla Kaplowitz accepted the award, which was presented at a gala at New York City’s iconic Pierre hotel.
The AEF also honored R/GA founder Bob Greenberg with its Lifetime Achievement Award, while Verizon received the Marketer Award. The Media Award went to Facebook and the Sizzle Award was presented to Bill Imada, chairman of multicultural marketing agency IW Group.