Not only does the saga rip away any pretence of media-neutral planning, but it reinforces the mire of dodgy practices that has characterised the industry for too long. All too often agencies have pitched for new business at rock-bottom prices, hoping to make up the money in revenue from other sources. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before the payment of sur-commissions was exposed.
Clients may have squeezed remuneration so hard they've forced them into it. But it's difficult not to see the real villains of the piece as the agencies for allowing themselves to be put in this position in the first place. Sur-commissions are not illegal. And if, as rumoured, IDS recouped its £5 million agency payments ten times over in additional revenue, who can blame them? It is the clients of those media agencies who accepted the payments without declaring them who have most to worry about.