IPA moves 'big tent' plans forward

LONDON - The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is pressing ahead with its plans to create a super trade body to represent the communications industry and has commissioned a report to examine the idea in more detail.

The report, commissioned by the IPA working with the Marketing Communication Consultants Association and the Public Relations Consultants Association, will examine the possibility of creating a federation containing a number of trade associations or a completely new agency trade body incorporating two or more associations.

The IPA has commissioned Mark Boleat of Boleat Consulting to produce the report, which could lead to a merger of the three bodies.

Earlier this year, the IPA's "big tent" plans to create an umbrella trade body representing the entire UK communications industry were dealt a blow by the Direct Marketing Association.

Following meetings with the IPA, the DMA has rejected its proposals to share offices and merge its agency section to create a single trade body.

Instead, it is in favour of simply working jointly with the IPA when the need arises. James Kelly, managing director of the DMA, said it had recently moved into new premises and had no interest in sharing a building with the IPA. "We couldn't see any particular merit in setting up a new body," he added.

Boleat's report will look at the industry and the current structure and activities of the existing trade associations as well as the issues that face the industry.

Bruce Haines, president of the IPA and group CEO of Leo Burnett, said: "Following a useful dialogue in the context of the 'big tent' initiative, we felt that having an independent expert on trade bodies look at each of our businesses and representative organisations with an open mind was the professional way to proceed."

According to Matthew Hooper, chairman of the MCCA and chairman of Interfocus, the preliminary talks have "been productive and have revealed a good deal of common ground".

The report is due to be completed by the end of November 2002.

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