NEW YORK: The Association of American Advertising Agencies (AAAA)
is opening its doors to independent PR firms for the first time in its
The New York-based AAAA has previously only opened membership to
non-advertising firms if they were owned by advertising groups. Young
and Rubicam-owned Burson-Marsteller, Grey Advertising-owned GCI Group,
WPP-owned Hill and Knowlton and Omnicom-owned sister agencies Porter
Novelli and Ketchum and are all members.
From now on, any PR firm with a US office can join if it has been
operating for over two years and is ethically and financially sound.
Edelman PR Worldwide and Ruder Finn are both considering applying since
the membership rules were relaxed.
The AAAA is also allowing independent corporate identity, media buying
and sales promotion agencies to apply for membership.
AAAA president/CEO Burtch Drake said: ’Today’s advertising agencies are
no longer, if they ever were, just creating advertisements and placing
media. They’re providing clients with a variety of marketing
communications services. Free-standing firms in these disciplines are
now being serviced by the AAAA due to their ownership by current
members. But the previous membership criteria prevented similar
organisations which were not owned by an agency or a holding company
from joining the AAAA.’
The association says it is not trying to compete with the year-old
Association of PR Firms which now boasts 58 members. Its focus will
remain on representing and servicing advertising agencies. The
association is expected to form a new service division around its PR
The AAAA provides management, media and legal advice to its members as
well as information and insurance services. It also lobbies for the
advertising industry in Washington DC.