The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, representing UK ad agencies, has abandoned its ‘Big Tent’ concept of merger with other marketing organizations in favour of a federated approach.

The new Communications Agency Federation will bring together three existing associations representing different marketing disciplines with the aim of facilitating exchange of views and coordination of work. It will initially comprise the IPA, the Public Relations Consultants Association and the Marketing Communication Consultants Association (chic-speak for sales promotion shops).

The formation of the CAF follows a report drafted by consultant Mark Boleat which diplomatically concludes that the trio’s individual structures are broadly right and appropriate for the industry and that there is no strong case for merger.

“Communications agencies have been well served by their trade associations, each of which enjoys strong member support,” Boleat found. “[They] increasingly work together on matters of common interest. While there is no strong case for the associations seeking to merge, they do need to strengthen their relationships in order to best serve their increasingly overlapping memberships.”

The CAF council comprises the presidents and chief executives of the three founding members who will convene at least quarterly. It will have a rotating chairman and one of the chief executives will act as secretary. There are no plans for it to have its own staff, offices or funds.

Notable by its absence is the Direct Marketing Association, with which the IPA held talks earlier this year [WAMN: 06-Aug-02] – almost certainly because it is a far broader church than the other associations, with a preponderance of media-owners, service companies and clients among its corporate membership.

But its aloofness could lead to an uncomfortable scenario for all concerned – the defection to CAF of dm agencies who feel they have more in common with their counterparts in other disciplines than with the catch-all DMA.

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