How U.S. And U.K. Marketing Associations Differ In Focus

Let me start by saying that I admire and support the Association of National Advertisers here in the U.S. wholeheartedly. I have done work for them, I have attended and even spoken once or twice at their conferences. They do great work and are a powerful representative organization that stands up for advertisers in a relevant and timely fashion.

The ANA has a counterpart in the ISBA in the UK. ISBA stands for The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, which has been around for about 100 years. Go to the ISBA website and the first statement you will see reads “Championing an advertising environment that is transparent, responsible and accountable.” ISBA further defines its purpose as “one that can be trusted by the public, by advertisers and by legislators.”

Only a little further down, you will find links to content such as “ISBA Influencer Marketing Code of Conduct,” “Media Services Framework” and “Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study.” Many (but certainly not all) of their frameworks are freely available for download.



When you visit the ANA website,  the first thing you see is “We're All In On Driving Growth for you, your brand, our marketing industry, and humanity,” which is further explained as helping “our members become more effective marketers, build stronger brands, and drive industry and societal change through our CMO-endorsed Growth Agenda, which provides a 360-degree focus on all elements of the business enterprise.”

Worthy goals, to be sure. Marketers want to be effective, and their representative organization’s support in that endeavor is necessary and positive. It is not until you get about halfway down the ANA home page that you see “Leadership Championing causes to make the industry stronger and more knowledgeable,” which covers the ANA’s involvement in things like “Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing” and “SeeHer.” But even here, the focus is growth, not ethics.

It is fascinating to me that two organizations, focused on supporting marketers in their respective markets, come at it in such a profoundly different way. These are of course choices, and I assume they are made with the input and direction of the ANA members, just as the ISBA no doubt prioritizes based on their member feedback. And we all know that the ANA has been a powerful and loud advocate for things like transparency, ad fraud and representation and inclusion.

But it would seem that ISBA’s focus on “making the marketing world better” versus the ANA’s desire to “just” grow is indicative of two very different interpretations of the world that marketers live in. It is even more fascinating that many of ANA’s members are headquartered in the U.K., and many of ISBA’s members conversely are headquartered in the U.S. If these businesses lead and direct where their representative organizations place their focus, it appears that “think local, act local” is still very true today.

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