4A's Creates Agency Review Participation Agreement

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) has unveiled what it’s calling an “Agency Review Participation Agreement” it says is designed to address “a number of agency pain points when participating in a pitch being conducted directly by a marketer.” 

The implication is that reviews managed by a search consultant are more organized and run more smoothly than those conducted directly by clients. 

The “agreement” is not legally binding, but does spell out agency expectations going into a review. It’s a complement to review guidelines the 4A’s has previously developed. 

For example, it calls for “frequent and open conversation” throughout the process and hopefully throughout any subsequent relationship. 



It also indicates that a participating agency wants to know about the client’s ad budget going into a review and benchmarks for success both for the marketer and agency. 

The agreement addresses several contentious issues, including payment terms and speculative work. Some marketers have made headlines by demanding lengthy periods — four months or longer — to pay for services rendered. The agreement stresses that agencies want to be paid no later than 60 days after invoices have been issued. 

It’s no secret that in some past reviews, clients have demanded ownership rights to work presented during a review and that agencies have chafed at such demands, but agreed in order to participate. The agreement states that agencies expect to retain ownership of any spec work developed for the client during a review, with a potential option for the client to purchase any work presented. 

One issue not addressed in the agreement is liability for media purchased, but not yet paid for, if a client goes bankrupt or otherwise defaults. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the 4A’s did not work with the ANA on the new document before releasing it. Matt Kasindorf, senior vice president, business intelligence and insight at the 4A’s, said: “We are working on a number of initiatives with the ANA and will be discussing a potential update as a joint document." 

An ANA spokesman said the 4As “made us aware of the project, but due to other priorities we were unable to participate in its development.”

2 comments about "4A's Creates Agency Review Participation Agreement".
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  1. Michael Hubbard from Media Two Interactive, August 25, 2021 at 11:05 a.m.

    So I'm confused. Who signs this?  And what power does this have?  Or is this just a hope to get clients to notice that agencies are sick of the current RFP process?  Because I'm pretty sure if I submit this with my RFP response that I'll get a "thank you ver much" but it won't change a thing about the current song and dance that's out there.  At the very least, I appreciate that there's an effort to try and change the process, but I'm just curious as to what the goal is with the document?  

  2. Stephen McClellan from MediaPost replied, August 26, 2021 at 11:39 a.m.

    Hi Michael, I think you're right--an effort to make clients aware agencies have major issues with the current process, particularly when the client doesn't retain professional help with the search. No power per se. 

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