4A's and ANA Issue First-Ever Guidelines for Competitive Project Reviews

New York, Jan. 28, 2016—Today, two leading advertising and marketing trade associations—the 4A'sand ANA—issued new guidelines outlining best-practice recommendations designed to bring industry-wide consistency to how competitive reviews for project assignments are conducted by marketers and advertising agencies.

The guidelines are outlined in a new whitepaper titled "Agency Reviews for Project Work Guidance Considerations," produced jointly by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

The white paper was issued in response to an industry-wide increase in competitive reviews for project assignments and the absence of any industry-wide consistency in how agency reviews for project work should be conducted, the ANA and 4A's said in the report. Project assignments are defined as being limited in time and scope and usually driven by a need to address a defined business opportunity.

"The 4A's conducted a survey in 2014 that found that an overwhelming majority of advertising agency respondents—91 percent—reported working on projects for new clients," said Tom Finneran, EVP, agency management services, 4A's. "With these project assignments and competitive reviews on the rise, it's critical for us to work with the ANA to optimize the review process and establish industry practices that will benefit both agencies and clients."

The principles were created by a joint task force of industry leaders from the marketer and agency communities. General considerations for an efficient project review process include:

  • Clients should align the parameters of the review to fit the opportunity
  • Budgets should be shared early in the process so opportunities can be accurately assessed
  • Agencies need to understand the client's problem/opportunity, the competitive framework, the target consumer and the project's objectives and be transparent about staff resources and capabilities
  • Both parties should agree as to how proprietary information should be handled, which should be documented in a non-disclosure agreement
  • Exclusivity and conflicts should be discussed early in the process

The white paper details how these best practices can be mutually beneficial for clients and agencies. For clients, the benefits include an efficient review that will speed up their time to market, increase the likelihood of arriving at a smart solution and reduce the cost of reviews. For agencies, it will alleviate a strain on resources and help manage employees' non-billable time. And perhaps most importantly, it will help match the right agency with the right client to produce the best results.

"The most important consideration in conducting a review for a project-based assignment is to match the process to the opportunity," said Bill Duggan, ANA group executive VP. "This will allow clients to select agencies they feel will do the best work and agencies to pursue opportunities that fit with their expertise so they can really shine. Ultimately, the guidance can help clients expand their resources and help agencies identify and pursue new business opportunities."

This white paper is the third in a series, following "Guidelines for Agency Search" (2011) and "Agency Selection Briefing Guidance" (2013). Read the full white paper: "ANA/4A's Agency Reviews for Project Work Guidance Considerations."

About the ANA
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. Founded in 1910, the ANA's membership includes nearly 700 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing and advertising. The ANA also includes the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Brand Activation Association (BAA), which operate as divisions of the ANA, and the Advertising Educational Foundation, which is an ANA subsidiary. The ANA advances the interests of marketers and promotes and protects the well-being of the marketing community.

About the 4A's
The 4A's is the catalyst for bringing together the right people in the right place at the right time to address the advertising industry's most critical business issues. We provide leadership, advocacy, guidance and community to our members and the industry at large, with proprietary access to the people, information and tools needed to make smarter management decisions. Its mission is to help agencies become more successful. www.aaaa.org.