Saturday, May 24, 2014

11877: 2 Associations = 1 Ass.

The New York Times reported the Association of National Advertisers is acquiring the Brand Activation Association. Hopefully, there will less initial hoopla than the failed Publicis-Omnicom merger. Perhaps ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice will post another compelling video explaining the new partnership. Looking forward to learning how the Brand Activation Association will bring more firepower to the Army to Advance Industry Diversity.

One Venerable Ad Trade Association Is Acquiring Another

By Stuart Elliott

Two marketing trade associations, each of them more than a century old, are joining forces.

The Association of National Advertisers in New York, founded in 1910, has agreed to acquire the Brand Activation Association, also based in New York and founded in 1911. The agreement is being announced on Thursday morning by both associations.

The advertisers association represents, by its own count, more than 600 companies that sell 10,000 brands and spend an estimated $250 billion each year on marketing. The Brand Activation Association — known until last year as the Promotion Marketing Association — represents firms involved in areas like promotional marketing, shopper marketing, relationship marketing and old-school “reminder” marketing in the form of giveaway items: pens, calendars, coffee mugs, baseball caps and the like.

The boards of both associations have unanimously approved the acquisition plan, which would take effect July 1. Members of both organizations are expected to formally ratify the acquisition at their meetings next month.

The Brand Activation Association is to become an operating division of the advertisers association and retain its name. Bonnie Carlson, its president and chief executive, will be president of the division.

“I think we’re breaking some new ground,” Ms. Carlson said in a phone interview on Wednesday, referring to the idea of one trade association absorbing another.

“It’s about clout,” she said of the combination, because her organization will be “sharing more resources” by joining with the advertisers association.

And “it’s about content,” Ms. Carlson said, in that the advertisers association will gain additional conferences and events to add to its offerings to members. For example, the B.A.A.'s annual law conference will continue, she added, as will the annual presentation of honors called the Reggie Awards.

Robert D. Liodice, president and chief executive of the advertisers association, said: “In trying to be a full-service association for our members, we’re always looking to see how we can add to our portfolio, especially in the content area. Like any company, there are two ways: Build your own, or acquire.”

Because two associations are involved rather than, say, two agencies, two cable companies or two soup makers, no money is changing hands, Mr. Liodice said. “It’s a merging of operations,” he added, “and we end up being the parent company.”

This may be the first time the advertisers association has made an acquisition, Mr. Liodice said, noting that in the past the organization has done the opposite, as when it spun off a committee in 1936 that became the independent Advertising Research Foundation.

There is overlap between members of both associations, Mr. Liodice and Ms. Carlson said. She listed marketers that belong to both, like Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble.

(Mr. Liodice said that other members of the B.A.A. like agencies and service providers would receive some kind of associate membership in his organization rather than full membership because his organization limits membership to advertisers.)

Mr. Liodice and Ms. Carlson said they first began discussing joining forces at a lunch in September.

Might the coming together of two industry associations augur more mash-ups? There are a number of organizations that the denizens of Madison Avenue can join.

“A lot of our members feel there’s such a proliferation,” Ms. Carlson said, and say it could “help them if there were fewer, bigger ones.”

The coming-together of the two associations is, coincidentally, being announced after the recent unraveling of a merger between two giant agency holding groups.

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