The August silly season when circulation-boosting news is scant has arrived. And certainly a bust-up between two respected and senior UK marketing bodies would have been newsworthy – were it true.

Last Thursday’s Campaign magazine homed-in on talks that have been in train since the beginning of 2002 between the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (representing advertising/marketing communications agencies) and the Direct Marketing Association , a tripartite organisation representing client companies, the majority of dm agencies plus suppliers of ancillary services – database specialists, call centres, fulfilment concerns and mailing houses.

Under the working title Big Tent the duo have been in ad hoc discussions with other marketing organisations over a wide range of topics to evolve a future strategy for the UK communications industry. As IPA communications director Tessa Gooding puts it: “No end plan; just discussion of matters of common interest.”

Among these are government relations, education. joint training and – the stimuli for Campaign’s over-excited antenna – possible back office synergies. Discussion of the latter was put on the back burner last week by the DMA which has just undergone a major restructuring and recent move to new premises.

These facts transmogrified into a Campaign headline: ‘DMA Rejects IPA’s Supergroup Plan’, later evolving to ‘IPA To Recruit Direct Agencies After DMA Split’ in BrandRepublic, the online version of Campaign and its marketing siblings.

“Sources,” said the former, had “suggested that the IPA would respond by stepping up its own attempts to attract direct marketing agencies as members.” And BrandRepublic reiterated that “the IPA is still committed to going ahead with the idea and could now spark a turf war with the DMA as it seeks to recruit direct marketing agencies to its ranks.”

But the IPA’s Gooding categorically denied to WAMN that any such move was afoot. “We are very relaxed about the matter,” she insisted. Talk of a split was also denied by David Poole, chairman of the DMA Agencies Council. He described as “premature” press speculation about a merged agency body and offered a view of the real world with which fevered journos might be unfamiliar.

“The reality is that you do not create a new association in five minutes,” said Poole. “We agree there is room for closer cooperation, but that does not mean you merge together overnight. We agreed there are a number of key areas where we should work together. It may be that at some time in the future a new body might evolve out of that level of cooperating.”

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK) and the IPA; additional content by WARC staff