4As defends influence in local market

Earlier, Marketing ran an article questioning the influence of the 4As in the local market, with many industry players giving their feedback. (Read it here: Does the 4As have any influence?) Yesterday, 4As president Bernard Chan responded to the piece with the following email. (This email has been published with his consent.) “I wish to clarify the position of the 4As on certain points regarding the position of the 4As on the matter of pitch fees (See: Why pitch fees are unlikely in SG) as well as its programs, some of which were embarked upon as recent as two years ago.

Pitch fees and fees per se - With the coming into being of the Singapore Competition Act, and the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS), businesses are now bound to operate in a competition compliant environment. Any attempt by parts of an industry to champion fees of any kind, including pitch fees will not be condoned. The 4As learnt this starkly, several years ago, when championing the same subject of fees. The 4As membership accounts for some 85% of the annual Ad expenditure in Singapore, but this is made up of less than 100 Agencies who qualify as Full members. In terms of numbers, 4As certainly cannot claim to be representative of ALL operators in our industry as a vast majority of them do not belong to any Society or Association. I can assure you that the Association will not champion this route again unless we are part of a coalition which will give us a sufficiently broad representation to effectively address the fees issue without our being involved in any CCS non-compliancy issues.

Is one Association enough? –The Advertising and Marketing Communications market in Singapore is extremely fragmented. The digital revolution has opened up the market to an innumerable number of new operators, many of whom are small and will not see the necessity of joining the larger associations. Also, each wave of new technology will see the formation of new associations seeking to promote their respective business niches.

I do not think we have a choice.

Our Executive Committee is made up of heads of Agencies, both international and local, which a quick visit to our website (www.admarcom.sg) will determine. As you might expect, our focus is naturally directed at improving the well-being of our membership. Currently, the 4As focuses on two major areas -Events that build reputation, intra-industry participation and networking. We have the Singapore Media Awards, Creative Circle (Gong) Awards, and The CSR Awards.Talent Development – a total program that addresses the shortage of local talent in the Young Professional category.

Alliances and coalitions- The Association also gladly participates in alliances and coalitions as and when it sees the need to lobby issues. An example would be the recent Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge where our participation resulted in a coalition group being set up involving food manufacturers and food service providers. The group has now, under the leadership of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and working jointly with Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore, Association of Media Owners Singapore, Singapore Advertisers Association convinced Health Promotion Board to explore the route of self-regulation rather than government regulation.

To this end, I would also like to state that we have excellent stakeholder relationships with various government Agencies related to our industry such as Workforce Development Agency, Design Singapore Council, Media Development Authority, as well as industry Associations such as the SAA, AMOS, IAB, DMAS and others, the purpose of which is to address trade issues and industry needs, and principally, to build support for new our Talent Development program."

Bernard Chan
Chief executive officer
Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Singapore