Tuesday, October 25, 2016
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016
AICE Asks Brands To Question, Assess Credibility Of Agency In-House Production and Post
Rachelle Madden, executive director of the AICE
Postproduction trade association reaches out to ANA marketers with message raising concerns over transparency and fairness of agency business practices
  • ORLANDO, Fla.
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Agency in-house production and post may not be the best deal for advertisers financially and/or creatively speaking, according to the AICE which is reaching out to the client marketers’ community, distributing a marketing/conversation piece of its own that raises questions and issues for the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) to consider. Attendees arriving at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, which gets underway on Wednesday (10/19) in Orlando, will pick up an event registrant bag containing not only credentials, sponsor promotional material and the usual confab fare but also a clear, acetate postcard from the AICE calling for transparency when it comes to agency in-house production and post. The AICE contends that agencies and their holding companies are resorting to troubling business practices in order to keep brands’ production and post work in-house.

Using type that appears printed within the outlines of a small house, the postcard asks marketers to consider questions such as:

  • Is in-house actually better? Faster? Cheaper?
  • Are projects bids being rigged to keep them in-house?
  • Does your agency have to meet a financial quota set by their holding company?
  • Are department heads getting big bonuses for going in-house?

The postcard also invites the industry to learn more by visiting a section of the AICE website (click here) which features an AICE policy statement titled “In-House Postproduction: A Push For Greater Transparency, Fairness and Ethics.” It contends that a number of agencies request “bogus” bids from independent post houses in order to satisfy client demands for multiple bids, and that agencies can manipulate outside bids in order to make their in-house bids more attractive.

The policy statement goes on to offer recommendations for ways that marketers can insure a greater degree of transparency when it comes to how their production and post money is being spent. The AICE recommends that clients do the following:

  • Ask to see unaltered, originally-submitted bids for every project, and have them evaluated by an independent third party rather than having them go through your agency.
  • Require that your agency disclose, on the Agency Cost Estimate, when in-house postproduction resources are being used on your projects.
  • When appropriate, demand to see treatments (particularly in the case of complex jobs requiring visual effects and design services) as originally submitted.
  • Insist on knowing who will be the lead postproduction artist or artists on your project, and consistently review their work.

Ongoing campaign
The postcard and website are part of an ongoing campaign on the part of AICE to raise marketers’ awareness of what it regards as the potential pitfalls posed by agency in-house production and post. The AICE claims that brands can get more bang for their buck via a fair and transparent bidding process among independent post vendors as compared to the in-house agency option.

“Our members are continuing to hear about instances of holding companies mandating that client work go through their respective agencies’ in-house units, regardless if it’s the best solution for the project,” said Rachelle Madden, AICE executive director who added, “Often CMOs or brand managers are totally unaware that they could be getting better work at the same cost if they used the independent companies that have handled their brands for years. This [AICE campaign] is really intended to get them to ask questions of their agencies about the postproduction process and evaluate in a critical way just what they’re getting for their money.”

While agency in-house work has been around for years, Madden contended that the “scope and nature of it have changed to the point where it’s threatening the future of our independent companies. AICE members have historically gone above and beyond in their effort to serve not just their agency clients, but those agencies’ marketer clients as well. That capability is jeopardized by the current direction of in-house business practices. We don’t expect in-house facilities to go away, but we are determined to make marketers aware of the issues impacting fairness and transparency in the current environment.”