4A’s Task Force Issues ‘Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct’

New York, NY – January 28, 2016 – Today, the 4A’s, the leading trade association representing the advertising agency business, has released the “Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct,” which outline common goals and modern industry practices surrounding the issue of media transparency.

The nine principles address transparency in working relationships among clients, agencies and the media in three specific areas:

  • Client/agency relationships for U.S. media planning and buying services
  • Separate commercial relationships between agencies and media vendors and other suppliers
  • Client/agency governance

The points cover business arrangements, agency remuneration practices and recommended guidelines for media market participants in the U.S. They apply to the following groups conducting business in the U.S.: client, agency, agency group, holding company and related companies, including affiliates that may be brought into the media business relationship.

The goal of these principles is to identify material media transparency questions or topics and address them with constructive dialogue and pragmatic courses of action. The principles were created with considerable input from leading advertisers and represent the views of the 4A’s.

“Transparency and trust form the bedrock of any relationship, and the agency-client relationship is no different,” said Nancy Hill, President and Chief Executive Officer of the 4A’s. “It is critical that the industry come together to formalize guiding principles to best serve clients and address these issues. We are confident these guidelines will serve as a solid foundation for continuing relationships based on trust between agencies and clients moving forward.”

Despite the fact that a joint task force between leading advertisers and agency leaders set out to address the issues of transparency together, the 4A’s is issuing these principles to its members without further delay. While that collaboration between marketing and agency leaders led to the development of these principles, ultimately the groups could not come to terms on language. The advertiser group sought to go beyond developing guideline language into prescribing contract language; the 4A’s believes that should be left for discussion between individual agencies and clients and does not believe that is the role of an industry trade association.

The Transparency Guiding Principles is a living, breathing document and will evolve over time; the 4A’s task force will revisit and update the principles as needed.

The current 4A’s taskforce executive group includes: Hill; Bill Koenigsberg, President, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Horizon Media and Chair, 4A’s Board of Directors; Laura Desmond, Chief Revenue Officer, Publicis Group; Irwin Gotlieb, Chairman, GroupM, WPP; Henry Trajer, Global Chief Executive Officer, Mediabrands, IPG and Daryl Simm,Chairman and CEO, Omnicom Media Group, Omnicom. This group was supported by a working group of senior executives who helped build the transparency principles of conduct including: Guy Beach, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Mediabrands, IPG; Kathleen Brookbanks, Chief Operating Officer, OMD USA, Omnicom Media Group, Omnicom; Stan Fields, EVP, Managing Partner, Horizon Media; John Montgomery, Chairman, GroupM Connect North America, GroupM, WPP; Fran Pessagno, President, Managing Director, MediaVest, Publicis; Vincent O’Toole, EVP, Chief Operating Officer, Horizon Media; Scott Smith, Global Commercial Director, GroupM, WPP; David Versfelt, Partner, K&L Gates LLP and Bill Tucker, EVP, Media and Data practice, 4A’s.

View the principles now

About the 4A’s
The 4A’s is the catalyst for bringing together the right people in the right place at the right time to address the advertising industry’s most critical business issues. We provide leadership, advocacy, guidance and community to more than 750 members with proprietary access to the people, information and tools needed to make smarter management decisions. 4A’s members plan and buy 80 percent of all U.S. advertising spends; its mission is the help agencies become more successful. For more info, visit www.aaaa.org.