Mixed response to ANA report: 'one-sided', 'damning' and 'a great job'

Industry reaction to the ANA report has been mixed with the body representing US agencies, the 4A's, calling it "inconclusive and one-sided" and analysts saying it looked "fairly damning".

Mixed response to ANA report: 'one-sided', 'damning', 'a great job'

The 4A's:

"A healthy and constructive debate about media buying can only happen with a bipartisan, engaged, industry-wide approach – and that is precisely the opposite of what the ANA has pursued. The immense shortcomings of the K2 report released today – anonymous, inconclusive, and ane-sided – undercut the integrity of its findings.

"We call upon the ANA in the strongest terms to make available to specific agencies on a confidential basis all of the materials related to them. Without an opportunity for agencies to assess and address the veracity of information provided to K2, sweeping allegations will continue to drive attention-grabbing headlines; this does nothing to foster a productive conversation or to move our industry forward and could cause substantial economic damage to all media agencies. 

"We are firmly committed to ensuring appropriate governance practices are in place."

Publicis Groupe:

Publicis Groupe: "Had the ANA been willing to have an open dialogue with our industry we would have been immediately ready to cooperate, as we did last year, and that is reflected in our engagement with the 4A’s. By refusing such a dialogue and choosing a sensational approach, it seems clear that the ANA is not trying to find a solution to the alleged problems, and instead is acting with other goals in mind.

"The ANA has failed its members, advertisers, agencies and the entire industry by releasing a report that relies on allegations about situations involving unnamed companies and individuals to make broad, unsubstantiated and unverifiable assertions.

"Ultimately, the industry has been diminished and maligned by the ANA’s short-sighted and unilateral agenda of casting aspersions on an entire industry, rather than promoting trust and transparency, which should be paramount."


"The ANA report and the objectivity of its authors and advisors needs to be examined carefully. The report should not be allowed to tarnish the entire industry, nor every company in it.The ANA report and the objectivity of its authors and advisors needs to be examined carefully. The report should not be allowed to tarnish the entire industry, nor every company in it.

"As we stated from the outset of the ANA’s exploration, GroupM does not seek, nor accept rebates or hidden revenues in any form from media partners in the US. Nor do we accept service fees from vendors that are not disclosed to clients.

"GroupM is straightforward with clients concerning our proprietary media products and the value they provide; clients always exercise an informed opt-in to participate.

"As we’ve already indicated, we insist that the ANA share any specifics relating to our group with us so that we can ensure continuing contract compliance.  If clients have any questions, they should contact us." 

Ian Whittaker, analyst at Liberum Capital, investment bank:

"It looks like the ANA report is fairly damning. What does this mean for agencies?

"1) It is unclear yet whether there will be any legal / regulatory investigation by US authorities but that has to be a risk as does potential action by the ANA and / or advertisers;

"(2) If clients do re-examine their existing contracts with media agencies, this could – in theory – lead to another blizzard of account reviews, following 2015's 'tsunami' of reviews;

"(3) If accounts are reviewed, it raises the risk of pricing pressure on media contracts, thus putting margins at potential risk;

"(4) Media is the most profitable part of the agencies business (by margin), so greater scrutiny is a potential risk."

Tom Denford, chief strategy officer of ID Comms, media consultancy:

"The ANA have done a great job to invest the time and money to fund this landmark project. The report has provided clarity where previously suspicion and speculation had created a highly troubled relationship between major advertisers and their media agencies.

"We are very concerned at some of the practices that have been uncovered and it would be good to know whether these problems are focused on particular holding companies. We think this report will now push the issue of media right up the boardroom agenda and should be a concern to CFOs and CEOs.

"It exposes a worrying imbalance currently between the poor levels of governance, accountability and oversight applied to media budgets that represent huge company investments.

Jenny Biggam, the7stars, the independent UK media agency:

"It would be wrong to dismiss the ANA’s concerns as limited to the US. Today more and more advertisers and the marketing services groups employed by them are global. Techniques and principles adopted in the US can, and do, easily travel. The ANA report has given added impetus to UK concerns of trade bodies, agencies and advertisers over a rebate system which needs to change.

"Whatever the ins and outs, one undeniable fact stands out. All advertisers, regardless of their size, do not trust their media agency partners. Media agencies now need to do the leg-work of rebuilding trust and ushering in a new wave of much greater transparency across all aspects of their business."


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