“The ANA wanted to take a much more prescriptive process in terms of what they believed contract language should look like,” she said. “We wanted to stick with guidelines and principles and allow that contract language to be negotiated between clients and their agencies, not between trade associations.”
When the 4As said it would not be involved in drafting a contract template, the ANA walked, Hill said.
“It has to be between the client and agency,” she said. “They have to solve it on a contract-by-contract basis.”
Despite the communication breakdown, the 4As intends to hold agencies responsible for their client relationships. The trade group will host a series of member meetings to discuss its own guidelines in detail and allow questions. The first of these meetings was held last week in New York with about 40 attendees.
“We’re walking [members] through the guidelines and discussing with them pretty specifically about what they mean and what they don’t mean,” Hill said. “They just really want to dig in a little deeper so they are free to ask questions without the press being around.”
Agency executives will be responsible for teaching transparency and disclosure best practices to their employees, Hill said.
But unlike the ANA, which has asked its own members to monitor agency behavior, the 4As is letting agencies self-regulate.
“There’s no way for us to go out and enforce [compliance],” Hill said.