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|Official Statement from 4As|
|Saturday, 12 February 2011 11:13|
The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia (4As) has replied to comments made by lntegrated Strategic Communications (lSC) founder and President Austen Zecha and directed at the Association, including many senior industry professionals who have been elected or appointed to serve the interests of its members.
The Council's members have in the past three terms comprised CEOs of leading multinational and local agencies including Ogilvy & Mather, McCann Erickson, BBDO, Dentsu, Grey Worldwide, Krakatua, and Crush Advertising. Zecha's own agency served on the 4As Council and the Creative Council.
Zecha's comments had suggested that the 4As did not champion the interests of it members and that there is a potential conflict of interest involving Datuk Vincent Lee, the current 4As President, and former Chairman and CEO of Naga DDB, whose agency also bid for the Tourism Malaysia account.
These issues were raised following lSCs withdrawal from the tender process for Tourism Malaysia's advertising and promotions contract for the 2011 - 2013 cycle.
ln January 2006, the 4As instituted mandatory pitch fees - the only country in the world to have successfully introduced this requirement - to protect the intellectual property and interests of its members.
"By encouraging credentials and pitches based on the specific requirements of clients, we believe we have successfully reduced the number of arbitrary pitches and wasted man-hours in an industry already facing severe a talent shortage and brain drain," said Tony Savarimuthu, 4As Vice-President. "While GLCs fall under the mandatory pitch fee rules, government Ministry campaigns aimed at altering people's behaviour and perceptions are exempted. Our members continue to serve many GLCs and government agencies with dedication and we believe that many of them enjoy fruitful relationships with their client partners."
Prior to ISC's withdrawal from the Tourism Malaysia pitch, 4As Council representatives highlighted issues faced by members with the Tourism Ministry, including a meeting held with a previous Minister when the pitch process and subsequent appointments were called into question in the international trade media.
The issue was also taken up when allocated budgets were reduced although members had. invested in human resources to service the Tourism Malaysia account. Zecha's COO at that time was a Council representative when some of these issues were raised and discussed.
"From a professional perspective, the 4As cannot get involved with any trade disputes between Zecha and his former client," explained Tony. "He is, however, welcome to contribute ideas, or even serve on the Council. TBWA-ISC, appointed through the prerogative of the President under the Rules, has a seat on the Council. l'm surprised to hear of Zecha's reported claim that he has not attended a single 4As meeting in his entire professional career in Malaysia. l'm sure he has benefitted immensely from the Malaysian advertising industry.
"Clearly, his comments aimed at the 4As are misdirected," added Tony. "Any allegations of corruption are a matter for the MACC to investigate."
Tony however, called for more transparency in the process for government pitches to attract the best talents and the best ideas in promoting the country. "Perhaps now is the time for the government to consider using professional pitch consultants to avoid such disputes in the future."
Datuk Lee served three terms as President of the 4As, with his current term ending this March. A number of significant key projects were instituted during Datuk Lee's tenure including the prestigious Effie franchise held by the 4AS and run in partnership with the Malaysian Advertisers Association. He was also instrumental in proposing self-regulation as an alternative to legislation in some product categories within a legislative framework which was accepted by the authorities.
"Datuk Vincent's record does not need to be'defended,' said Khairudin Rahim, Managing Director of Lowe Malaysia. 'The 4As Council's work and contributions are judged by its members, and if they are unhappy, they can elect new office bearers. Datuk Vincent has tried to step down but was urged to serve one last term which comes to an end this March. The industry owes a debt of gratitude to him for his tireless work."
"We have worked with the Council over the last few terms on a number of projects that have significantly raised the profile of the advertising industry. Among the many contributions made to the brand marketing and advertising industry include the Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands (MMVB) project and the Putra Brand Awards," said Dato Borhanuddin Osman, President, Commercial Radio Malaysia (CRM).