Together we can stand up to exploitative business practice

Scott Knox: the managing director at the Marketing Agencies Association
Scott Knox: the managing director at the Marketing Agencies Association

Scott Knox, the managing director at the Marketing Agencies Association, calls for the IPA and ISBA to stand alongside it to end exploitative business practices by large advertisers.

120 days plus payment terms, rebates to fund CSR projects, e-auctions to reduce rate cards. Does any of this build a relationship of trust, mutual respect and deliver better results?

Add inviting 63 agencies to pitch, charging fees to administer invoices, internal debtor day competitions, the list goes on…  We have surely reached a point where these sorts of business practices have to be called into question.

The MAA has decided we have reached a limit of tolerance with corporations making the above demands (understood to be the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, Premier Foods and most recently Anheuser-Busch InBev).

And we think that other organisations should have reached their limit too. I am asking the ISBA, the brand trade body to end their silence and face the music. Do they think that this sort of business practice is right? Does it support an environment of entrepreneurship and innovation?

I also ask the IPA to come out and support our call for a "strike" against AB InBev, starting on 7 April. I am asking the IPA to unite with us and say enough is enough. Their Adapt programme has done much good in bringing people together to work on better client/agency relationships but surely we have reached a point where something a bit more than a round table discussion is needed.

This isn’t just a UK thing, so I am also asking AB InBev’s trade body The World Federation of Advertisers to comment and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) to join us and get this call to action out to their members in the United States.

Ultimately, though I have a feeling that the real people we need to talk to are the politicians. Will the UK government step in and legislate on business relationships? We need the government and the EU to enforce a minimum standard on payment terms.

The coalition has actively supported the start up call, it talks a good game on entrepreneur and innovation support, yet it idly stands by and lets businesses increase payments terms to ridiculous levels.

How can SMEs work with brands that won’t pay them for 90 or 120 days? They can’t, unfortunately these entrepreneurs can’t ask their landlords or mortgage lenders to allow 120 payment terms on their homes or business premises.

What's certain is that we need the whole industry to get behind this, if we want to see change.

So, who's with us?

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