Paul Bainsfair, the IPA’s director-general, told Campaign that management consultancies, which are making increasingly aggressive incursions into agency territory, were currently unable to join the IPA, nor had they asked to.
"We haven’t any management consultancies as members," he said. "The reason is that we don’t accept holding companies as members."
Bainsfair was responding to questions posed by Campaign on the back of the news that US agency organisation 4As is debating whether or not to allow consultancies to join as members, after the likes of Accenture and Deloitte Digital contacted the body.
However, in the UK, the IPA’s set-up prevents big groups from becoming members. "We do have bylaws that prevent advertisers becoming members," Bainsfair said. "For example, we don’t — and I’m not saying that we won’t ever — allow clients’ in-house agencies to become members."
He added that there was "nothing to stop agencies that are owned by management consultancies from being members, "if they meet our criteria, but for the consultancy it’s a pretty arms’ length involvement".
"As a general comment I would say that we’re not near a point where we need to rethink the rules of membership. But we’re not an organisation that’s a stick-in-the-mud over change. If the landscape changed dramatically we’d be open-minded."
The US move has been prompted by the increasingly acquisitive behaviour of management consultancies buying up marketing communications agencies, including Accenture’s purchase of Brand Learning in August and of creative agency Karmarama in November.
Deloitte is another group making marcomms inroads. Its Deloitte Digital operation bought Stockholm’s Acne Agency in August, and has hired Andy Sandoz, the former joint executive creative director at Havas London.
Accenture Interactive said it was building the first global "experience agency of record", Campaign has reported this week.