ISBA ceases agency search and selection service

Move follows departure of Debbie Morrison at end of last year.

Smith: ISBA seeking to help brands build 'long-term sustainable relationships'
Smith: ISBA seeking to help brands build 'long-term sustainable relationships'

ISBA has shut down its agency search and selection service for advertisers after a strategic review with senior members.

While the advertiser body has told agencies that it was pulling back from a full search service, it said it would continue to offer ad-hoc advice to advertiser members.

Director-general Phil Smith told Campaign that ISBA has "refined how we provide advice and support to our members across their multiple, diverse agency partnerships".

The move comes less than a year after Campaign reported the departure of director of consultancy and best practice Debbie Morrison, who left after 29 years to join Ebiquity in January as managing director.

Morrison oversaw agency search and selection at ISBA, as well as agency contract and fee negotiations.

At the time of her announced departure, it was expected that ISBA would take time to decide how to replace her. ISBA has told agencies that Andrew Lowdon, ISBA's director of agency services, would lead ISBA's contact with agencies.

Smith added: "Historically, ISBA has assisted a small number of members with pitch support. Today, our objective is to provide members with support through connections we’ve built with industry experts as needed. These organisations provide current and best advice around agency search and selection across a broad range of disciplines.

"Our focus is on working with our members to help them build long-term sustainable relationships and strengthen ISBA’s knowledge bank of content, working with agencies in order to achieve this. Through the continued development of best practice guidance and advice, we aim to provide support that all members can take advantage of."

Earlier this month, ISBA and the IPA published a new best-practice guide called Finding an Agency aimed at avoiding "overly bureaucratic, lengthy and costly" pitches.

At the end of 2018, the two trade bodies said they were working on a joint initiative to champion "sustainable client/media agency relationships".

ISBA and the IPA, which represent British advertisers and agencies respectively, had been working over the past year in an attempt to reset their sometimes tense relationship.

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