IAA set to widen its membership to all marketing industry

The International Advertising Association is breaking with a practice dating back to its foundation 64 years ago by extending its membership beyond agencies, advertisers and media companies.

The body is amending its rules to include all sectors of the marketing communications industry from direct marketing, sales promotion, interactive marketing and market research to design and PR. The announcement, on the eve of the IAA's 2002 world congress in Beirut, is intended to reposition it as a "brand champion".

It follows the arrival of a new leadership at the IAA, including Wally O'Brien, its New York-based director-general, and David Hanger, the publisher of The Economist, as world president.

Hanger denied the IAA's move away from a tripartite structure was a defensive measure: "In the past we've refused entry to the people we're now trying to attract. But brands aren't just built by a lot of ad people and we want our membership to reflect that."

Formed in 1938 to help drive American presence into emerging world markets, the IAA performs widely differing roles in the 95 countries in which it is established.

In many Third World countries it is often the sole champion of commercial freedom of speech. In more developed markets it concentrates on education and training.