4A's pushes transparency; tightens membership criteria

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 21 September 2016

US agency group 4A's has mandated that its transparency guidelines will now become a standard requirement for any company that is hoping to join the industry body.

In January, the 4A's released its 'Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct' (TGPC) designed to outline the best practice between clients and agencies, particularly around media buying and planning. Overnight the president and CEO of the organisation, Nancy Hill, released a statement saying that the group's board unanimously voted to elevate the TGPC from recommendations to a standard practice for membership.

The TGPC provides a set of guidelines surrounding client, agency, agency group and holding company business arrangements and agency remuneration practices, as well as recommended guidelines for media market participants.

“It is our strong belief that transparency is a core principle and the cornerstone of the agency and client relationship,” Hill wrote. “The TGPC is based upon a belief that sound and ethical practice is good business. Trust and respect is indispensable to success in our business where relationships must be based on good faith.”

This shift not only affects new members. Current members could see themselves reported to the board over violations to the TGPC. As part of this announcement, Hill also highlighted that the body is now focusing on ensuring if they don't comply all its member agencies are across the TGPC and practising within its guidelines.

The move from the 4A's comes as Hill pulls out from a scheduled appearance at Advertising Week in the US, where she was due to talk about the body's transparency commitment. Instead, the organisation has opted to hold meetings with its members to discuss this latest TGPC push.

It is being speculated that one reason for Hills absence could be an ongoing feud with fellow US industry body the ANA. The disagreement was sparked earlier this year when the ANA released its findings into the state of play surrounding the media landscape and found that “media is conflicted, non-transparent and disconnected.” The 4A's at the time dammed the report, with the body's not being able to see eye to eye on what the best solution for transparency is.

Recently AdNews sat down with local body the AANA, its chair Matt Tapper and its CEO Sunita Gloster to talk about this issue, with the pair saying “transparency isn't where is should be” in Australia.

You can read all nine of the 4A's TGPC's here.

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