On the face of it, the connection between the foot-and-mouth
epidemic and the need for the UK communications industry to have a
single body to represent its interests is hard to fathom.
But IPA chiefs cite the livestock crisis as an important example of what
can happen when an industry's fragmented structure prevents it speaking
up effectively for itself and how it can suffer as a result.
As the body representing an entire industry, the National Farmers' Union
won £1 billion worth of Government compensation for its
Contrast that with the tourist industry, ten times bigger and employing
four times as many people as farming but so fragmented and slow moving
that it was nowhere near as successful as the NFU.
Now the IPA Council has opted to pursue the most radical of the options
presented to it.
By backing what it calls the "big bang", the council believes it can
help evolve a more effective and cost-efficient trade body which
reflects industry consolidation while increasing its lobbying power in
Whitehall and Brussels. But some fear an umbrella body may have
difficulty representing all the views of its constituents.
Andrew Brown, the Advertising Association's director- general, said: "I
certainly see the advantages of concentrating power, especially when you
are dealing with the Government, which prefers talking to a single
organisation. I also think it's right for the IPA to be looking at ways
of renewing itself."
But, he added: "The danger is that in trying to present a common view
you may suppress important minority ones."
The AA itself is already regarded as an effective forum for the whole
industry, which has already seen a considerable amount of amalgamation
among its trade bodies during the past decade.
Colin Lloyd, the chief executive of the Direct Marketing Association,
said: "The DMA was the result of four industry bodies coming together
and six more have since joined us.
"All trade associations are under financial pressure and we have a duty
to our members to share resources. We would listen with interest to
anything the IPA would like to talk to us about."
Matthew Hooper, the chairman of the Sales Promotion Consultants
Association, asked: "What will this organisation do and how will it
benefit its members?
There have to be tangible benefits. It mustn't be a bureaucratic
organisation which sets out to please everybody and ends up pleasing
Chris O'Shea, the chairman of the IPA Creative Directors' Forum, said
the IPA initiative merited serious discussion. "There's been a blurring
of the lines between direct marketing, sales promotion and
above-the-line advertising and that's reflected in what we as creatives
are doing," he commented.
"I believe a single body would be better in both a creative and a