Marketing Agencies Action Group is reborn as Alliance of Independent Agencies

Trade body will aim to take action to remedy devastating impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

Alliance of Independent Agencies: Sullivan, Myers-Lamptey, Kieran, Parkes
Alliance of Independent Agencies: Sullivan, Myers-Lamptey, Kieran, Parkes

The Marketing Agencies Action Group has changed its name to the Alliance of Independent Agencies and will now exclusively represent businesses that are not part of a group or holding company.

The new AIA has appointed Matt Sullivan to lead the organisation as managing director. Sullivan joins from The Drum, where he was US vice-president and head of The Drum Network; he was previously MD of the DMA's International Echo Awards.

Sullivan will be supported by a trio of co-chairs: Ruth Kieran, chief executive of Cirkle; Dino Myers-Lamptey, founder of The Barber Shop; and Laurence Parkes, CEO of Rufus Leonard.

MAAG was formed in 2018 from the ashes of the Marketing Agencies Association, the assets of which were bought out of administration by former chairmen Clive Mishon and Graham Kemp. They will remain as directors of the AIA, retaining responsibility for its financial stability and management.

The organisation's mission will be informed by the need to respond to the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the agency sector. AIA said the UK industry had seen a £19bn hit to turnover this year, and job losses were projected to be 49,000, or 26% of the total workforce.

While most of the UK's largest agencies are owned by either one of the big six holding companies – WPP, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic, Dentsu Aegis Network and Havas – or another group such as Chime or Engine, 90% of all agencies in the creative sector are independent.

The AIA will focus on "change-driving activities" including lobbying for government support, such as safeguarding jobs, through independent agency representation as members of The Advertising Association and Federation of Small Business; providing independent agencies access to resources, building on collaborations with other collectives, which include Pimento, TheNetworkOne and Agencynomics; and empowering agencies to successfully navigate procurement.

Sullivan said: “Across my work with agencies of all sizes and disciplines over the last 10 years, the biggest shift has been the desire to collaborate more – especially within the independent community. This will be the key factor behind the success of the Alliance of Independent Agencies. 

"The Alliance is bringing an amazing mix of agencies together, plus support and access to other networks; a level of collaboration that is unusual with the backdrop of competitive membership fees.

"It feels like the last piece of the puzzle is to unite everybody that works for or alongside independent agencies to create something bigger and more impactful.

"With all the talent, great work, and increased confidence, I think we can be very ambitious with what we can achieve together. Exciting times.”