LONDON: Advertising trade bodies on both sides of the Atlantic are having to consider the possibility of admitting management consultancies as members, as these organisations continue to build their marketing capabilities.

In the UK, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising said this was not possible under the current set-up but did not rule out accepting them in future.

“We haven’t any management consultancies as members,” Paul Bainsfair, the IPA’s director-general, told Campaign. “The reason is that we don’t accept holding companies as members.”

But agencies owned by management consultancies and which meet membership criteria are eligible to join.

His comments came in response to developments in the US where the equivalent body, the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies), is planning to discuss whether consultancies should be allowed to join its ranks.

“It does not go against our by-laws and as [consultancies] continue to acquire agencies, we have to figure out if it’s something we address or ignore,” Marla Kaplowitz, President/CEO of the 4A’s, told Advertising Age two days ago.

She added that some consultancies have already indicated a potential interest in signing up.

Bainsfair went on to explain that the IPA has bylaws that also prevent advertisers becoming members. “For example, we don’t – and I’m not saying that we won’t ever – allow clients’ in-house agencies to become members.”

“As a general comment I would say that we’re not near a point where we need to rethink the rules of membership,” he added. “But we’re not an organisation that’s a stick-in-the-mud over change. If the landscape changed dramatically we’d be open-minded.”

Data sourced from Campaign; additional content by WARC staff