Ghost of EAT Haunts Banquet as WFA Meets in Paris

17 May 2001

Attendees at the World Federation of Advertisers annual meeting are reported to have sensed a Banquo-like specter hovering at its Paris banquet.

The sepulchral shade is said to be that of the recently slain European Advertising Tripartite [WAMN: 10-May-01], despatched it is rumored at the behest of certain WFA members.

The WFA, representing many of the globe’s largest and most powerful advertisers, was a member of the Tripartite, a lobbying organisation that also represented the interests of the European Association of Communications Agencies, the Association of Commercial Television and direct marketing federation FEDMA. All voted for its dissolution after one unnamed but powerful member had withdrawn financial support.

Says FEDMA director general Alastair Tempest, a co-founder of EAT in 1981: “The EAT didn't have an issue common to all its members anymore.,” opining this to be “a bit strange … given the legislation that is in the pipeline now”.

Tempest’s view was echoed by his former opposite number at the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, John Hooper, a WFA board member who stood down at yesterday’s meeting.

Hooper admitted the WFA did change course during the lobby against a recent legislative initiative, Brussels I. "Different constituencies had different interests," he says. "Other associations saw us as serving just the interests of the big FMCG advertisers, but that's what we are there to do," he says.

An anonymous insider at the European Commission was less discreet: "The WFA has been steered by one of its corporate members, Mars. Like other multinationals, Mars sees no danger from going to court in the consumer's country because it has an established operation in that country, well capable of handling a local legal dispute."

“These big advertisers have a competitive interest in making sure that some of the single market initiatives don't get off the ground," the insider continued. "The WFA supporting the Brussels I regulation was an example of this policy in action."

In the wake of the EAT’s demise, the European Advertising Standards Alliance will continue with many of the EAT's responsibilities barring direct lobbying.

News source: AdAge Global