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Community Corner

AICE Brings the In-House Transparency Debate to Clients’ Confab

AICE, 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Raises client-side awareness of troubling business practices agencies and holding companies are using in order to keep production and post work in-house

AICE Brings the In-House Transparency Debate to Clients’ Confab

Attendees at the recent Association of National Advertisers’ Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida, found something a little different in the bags they received upon signing in at the registration desk. In addition to promotional giveaways, sponsor literature and event publications, they found a clear acetate post card that basically told them, ‘Remember that big transparency debate about media buying? Well, it ain’t over.’


The postcard (pictured below) was prepared by AICE and was created to raise client-side awareness of troubling business practices agencies and holding companies are using in order to keep production and post work in-house. 

Using type that appeared printed within the outlines of a house, the card asked marketers to ponder questions like:

▪ “Is in-house actually better? Faster? Cheaper?” 

▪ “Are project bids being rigged to keep them in-house?”

▪ “Does your agency have to meet a financial quota set by their holding company?”

▪ “Are department heads getting big bonuses for going in-house?”

The piece is part of AICE’s ongoing campaign to make advertisers aware that they may not be getting the best deal for their dollar when their agency handles their work in-house, as opposed to opening it up for a fair and transparent bidding process among independent post production vendors. 

“Our members are continuing to hear about instances of holding companies mandating that client work go through their respective agencies’ in-house units, regardless if it’s the best solution for the project,” says AICE Executive Director Rachelle Madden. “And CMOs or Brand Managers whose work is handled by in-house facilities sometimes are not fully aware of what they could be getting for the same money at the independent companies that have worked on their brands for years. So this postcard urges them to question their agencies about the post production process and evaluate just what they’re getting for their money.”

“Our members are continuing to hear about instances of holding companies mandating that client work go through their respective agencies’ in-house units, regardless of whether it’s the best solution for the project,” says AICE Executive Director Rachelle Madden. “And CMOs or Brand Managers whose work is handled by in-house facilities sometimes are not fully aware of what they could be getting for the same money at the independent companies that have worked on their brands for years. So this postcard urges them to question their agencies about the post production process and evaluate just what they’re getting for their money.”

The card was designed by Secret Fort in Chicago (www.secretfort.com/#welcome). It directed clients to check out AICE’s policy statement on in-house, “In House Post Production: A Push for Greater Transparency, Fairness and Ethics,” which can be found on their web site at www.aice.org/transparency. The statement, which has since been reviewed by a number of major advertisers, raises such issues as agencies’ request for bogus ‘check’ bids and their ability to manipulate outside bids in order to make their in-house ones more attractive.  The statement goes on to offer recommendations for ways marketers can insure more transparency when it comes to how their production and post production money is being spent.

“In-house has been around for years, but the scope and nature of it have changed to the point where it’s threatening the future of our independent companies,” says Madden. “AICE members have historically gone above and beyond in their effort to serve not just their agency clients, but those agencies’ marketer clients as well. That capability is jeopardized by the current direction of in-house business practices. We don’t expect in-house facilities to go away, but we’re determined to make advertisers aware of the issues impacting fairness and transparency in the current environment.”

Genre: PR , People , Strategy/Insight