A2C, ICA paint a picture of the year ahead

The associations representing Canada's agencies state priorities to modernize best practices and drive innovative thinking.

The Association of Creative Communications Agencies (A2C) and Institute of Communications Agencies (ICA) have both made statements about their priorities for helping their members compete in an evolving industry this week.

In its review of agency selection processes in Quebec in 2018, the A2C determined that while “many” RFPs comply with best practices, there is still work to be done when it comes to eliminating speculative work and ensuring the process is fair for agencies, as well as increase the number of responses advertisers receive (many agencies in Quebec, the A2C claims, now refuse to take part in RFPs that include speculative work). To that end, the A2C plans to increase the number of actions and consultations it does within the industry, as well as develop new tools to better explain best practices and their benefits.

Dominique Villeneuve, president and CEO of the A2C, told strategy it is currently consulting with members and doing research, so it is still too early to provide finer details about what form those actions or tools may take. However, one area the organization is looking at is updating its guidelines, reflecting the ways the industry has changed since the guides were created five years ago. She cited things like RFPs for project-based work, unique considerations for media agencies and finding new alternatives to spec work as areas it was looking at, with the overall goal of simplifying the RFP process.

“The advertisers have their own pressures too,” Villeneuve says. “The benefit in this is not just for the agencies. Everyone needs to be efficient these days, so our process needs to be efficient if we think the advertiser will have benefits and an advantage to use it.”

In 2018, the A2C made 11 RFP interventions to help advertisers modify their process to be in line with best practices, most commonly due to spec work, delays and ambiguity about the available budget. On top of that, 29 advertisers consulted with the A2C on their own to make sure their selection processes fit with industry best practices. Overall, it referred 491 public RFPs to its members.

Villeneuve says these numbers – previously only provided to members – are largely in line with past years, but decided to share them publicly for the first time in the hopes that it will start a conversation and generate new ideas.

In addition to the A2C publishing its report, the ICA this week released a manifesto from its incoming chair, Andy Krupski, creating a picture of the organization’s priorities for the year ahead.

Krupski – also chairman of Toronto agency The Hive and the former president and CEO of J. Walter Thompson – takes over the chair position from BBDO’s Paul Reilly. In the manifesto, Krupski puts the emphasis on innovation, reinforcing the organization’s role in helping attract innovative thinkers to the industry and helping clients find the right agency partners.

“We do need to look forward and consider the challenge from evolving platforms, the consultancy firms, and address the pressure on margins, technological disruption, and the rising role of procurement in commoditizing the industry,” Krupski writes. “All this has had a major impact, and fundamentally altered the perception of the industry in the eyes of all stakeholders.”

To that end, Krupski says the ICA’s role is to “drag the industry” out of a more commoditized business model and put the emphasis on new ideas and innovative thinking that will lead to success for its members, as well as help them “win a seat in the C-suite” of its clients by proving the value of their services.


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