CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/TRADE BODIES - Trade bodies look forward as old guard bows out. Advertising’s trade groups will have to redefine their roles, Claire Cozens writes

It’s all change at the top of the advertising industry’s main trade bodies as some of its most influential figures prepare to bow out and make way for the new guard. The industry will lose no less than three director-generals and a host of other senior figures as they prepare to leave their posts over the next two years.

It’s all change at the top of the advertising industry’s main trade

bodies as some of its most influential figures prepare to bow out and

make way for the new guard. The industry will lose no less than three

director-generals and a host of other senior figures as they prepare to

leave their posts over the next two years.



There is something apt about so many new people coming in around the new

millennium. While their names may not be immediately recognisable,

figures such as Lord Rodgers, chairman of the Advertising Standards

Authority, and Brian Nicholson, chairman of the Advertising Standards

Board of Finance, hold highly influential positions. With the industry

in a state of some flux, it will be an exciting time for their

replacements.



’I’ve been connected with trade associations for 22 years and I don’t

recall a time before when so many senior figures have left at the same

time,’ Phillip Circus, head of legal affairs at the Institute of Sales

Promotion, says. ’We are coming up to what will be a very interesting

period because there will be a lot of new people in charge, and some

will have a very difficult job in defining what their organisations

represent.’



First to go will be Matti Alderson, who leaves her job as

director-general of the ASA next April when her contract expires. She

will be shortly followed by Rodgers, who retires at the end of next

year.



The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is to lose its

director-general, Nick Phillips, in 2001, while John Raad retires as

deputy general secretary of the IPA in four months’ time. And John

Hooper, the high-profile director-general of the Incorporated Society of

British Advertisers, will stand down next year to make way for a younger

candidate.



The changes come at a challenging time for the industry and, by

implication, the bodies that represent its interests. The expansion of

new media and the development of through-the-line communications mean

the role of organisations such as the IPA will change. But what will

their new role be?



Circus says: ’The pecking order has changed. Twenty years ago, there was

no doubt about what the IPA represented, but there is a feeling that ad

agencies have lost their way and that inevitably means that the

organisation that represents them has lost its way.’



The big challenge facing the IPA is that major companies don’t take

advertising agencies as seriously as they used to. Management

consultants have encroached on their position as strategic counsellors

to business, and there have even been suggestions that management

consultants should be allowed to join the IPA.



Circus believes the Direct Marketing Association is now the most

influential of the trade bodies. And with traditional advertising

agencies fudging the distinctions between above and below the line, the

distinction between the roles of the IPA and the DMA is increasingly

blurred.



The departure of the ASA’s two most senior administrators comes as it

seeks to protect the self-regulatory system against attempts by

politicians in London and Brussels to impose statutory controls. The ASA

is also faced with the increasingly difficult job of policing ads at a

time of growing media convergence. This is giving overseas-based

advertisers, who are not governed by the ASA, access to UK

consumers.



Predictably, Alderson does not believe the changeover at the top of the

ASA will create problems. She comments: ’The new director-general will

find we’ve got an excellent team here and that there is a considerable

amount of goodwill among our members.’



But in spite of such reassurances, there are concerns that these changes

are happening in too short a period of time, and that newcomers will not

easily be able to step into the shoes of people who have been in place

for a long time and have followed events for some years.



Andrew Brown is the director-general of the Advertising Association, the

body that represents the interests of the industry as a whole. He

believes that what is important is not so much the fact that there is

change as the way that organisations handle change.



’These are times of great change and experience is a valuable commodity.

Discussions with the Government can take a very long time and it is

dangerous to have a lot of chopping and changing,’ he says.



’But here there are changes, but no surprises. For example, we realised

that Brian Nicholson was standing down as chairman of the ASBOF at the

end of this year and that the incoming chairman, Winston Fletcher, would

have the job of selecting the new chairman of the ASA. So there have

been grown-up discussions to ensure that the changes are as seamless as

they can be.’



Rupert Howell, president of the IPA, says he regrets the departures, but

is confident that the changes can be made without too much

disruption.



’The AA is very lucky to have Andrew Brown, who’s excellent, and he’ll

be around for a good few years yet,’ he says. ’John Hooper is retiring

next year, but has said he’ll stay on as a consultant. And Nick Phillips

doesn’t go until 2001 so there’s a good handover period.



’There’s enough staggering to mean it shouldn’t be too much of a

problem. The other thing is that all these organisations have very

strong secretariats - it’s not all about one person. I think it’s a

shame that some very talented people are going, but it’s a challenge

rather than a problem.’



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