The World: Insider's View - US

The American Advertising Foundation is 100 years old. Tim Love takes a look at what this should mean for the advertising industry as a whole.

The American Advertising Foundation was founded in 1905 on the principle of bringing truth in advertising and to address issues facing a developing marketing industry.

This business is a race for ideas. It has always been. As velocity increases, rewards in the future will be for those who get better ideas, faster.

On the 100th birthday of the AAF, the ad industry is, arguably, under the most severe pressure in its his-tory. Its self-confidence is being shaken by a host of challenges: globalisation, a call for greater transparency of cost, consolidation and questions about its effect on issues including obesity, drug use, decency and child development.

Our business models are considered by some people to be obsolete. And, what is worse, our ethics are being attacked. This affects our reputation and our perceived value.

Our clients want to know what we are going to do to change. I believe the answers lie in re-examining the AAF's inherent equities and embracing its fundamental legacy - changing the complexity of marketing into simplicity - with new strategies and new ideas.

The starting place is to be unequivocal in following the principle at the core of this business: to take care of the client's brands first, the agency's business second and individual needs and agendas third.

We need to reinvent how our industry connects consumers with ideas.While the aggregated buying introduced in the late 80s gave our clients more negotiating power, the dislocation of media-consumption understanding from brand-perception development has not been good for our clients or the industry.

Inspiration can come from a variety of sources. We cannot deliver the integration our clients need without a seamless marriage of media, idea creation and brand-equity understanding. Not in the old way, but in fresh new ways.

We need to have the courage to ask our clients to practice what they preach about collaboration; to partner with us in creating the future.

This includes their procurement people. I am sure part of the solution clients are looking for involves changing the way they work, too.

The AAF's founding principle is expressing the truth in things. We need to rededicate ourselves to this and be far more transparent. Self-regulation is infinitely preferable to legislation. We need to let the world know about our self-regulation, because it ensures our unifying voice rings with the power of truth.

And we need to relish the highest creative standards for ideas - by bringing into the ideas business the best and brightest, young, rebellious minds through our relationship with education. We are in a race for ideas. If we can use this moment to find bold ideas that connect, the future will be bright.

- Tim Love is the president, global clients of TBWA and AAF director-at-large.

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