The IPA is setting up an internet bulk-buying club that will allow agencies to save thousands of pounds on everything from felt-tip pens to company cars.
The industry body plans to harness the purchasing power of its 200 corporate members to cut costs on a range of supplies, including stationery, creative materials, IT equipment and furniture.
Experts believe that almost pounds 120 million could be shaved off the pounds 473 million spent each year on such items by Britain's 11,000 agencies and design companies. If the scheme is successful, the IPA hopes to extend it to enable agencies to save on their gas, electricity and phone bills.
Privately, some proponents of the scheme believe it could result in much tighter control of agency buying arrangements by having a single person in charge of them and put an end to some cosy but costly relationships, particularly in the areas of stationery and creative materials.
The IPA has picked two companies to administer the scheme: Black i, a company car leasing specialist, and GroupTrade, whose marketing chief is Dominic Owens, BT's former head of marketing communications.
When the scheme was first mooted, the IPA had considered circumventing high car prices in the UK by having vehicles supplied from mainland Europe but abandoned the idea when the Government forced down prices.
The IPA claims that it will not make any profit from supervising and managing the programme.
'We've been very careful to pick only those businesses that won't fall victim to the dotcom shakeout,' Hamish Pringle, the IPA's director of marketing strategy, said.
He added: 'Quite a few internet car specialists could not deliver because they only dealt in consumer offerings, but Black i lives and breathes car leasing. GroupTrade too seems to be well-funded and has a very slick website.'
This article was first published on Campaign