Industry associations branded self-serving social clubs who are ‘peddling crap’

The majority of industry associations have been branded “self-serving social clubs” who are “peddling crap” due to the sheer number of associations and a severe lack of resources. 

Darren Woolley, James Greet and Michelle Katz on stage at Mumbrella360

Consultant and Trinity P3 founder Darren Woolley rounded on trade bodies – not for the first time – during a panel debating on transparency, and mocked them for “self-aggrandisement”.

He said associations collectively “do nothing” on transparency, despite being warned of the issue five years ago, and wait for each other to take a lead.

The comments came after the panel at the Mumbrella360 conference were asked why, unlike other countries, the Australian industry has not stepped up its debate on transparency.

It’s not the first time Woolley has attacked trade bodies. Last June he lambasted the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) for failing to take a stance on transparency, blaming involvement by media agencies for its inaction.

“We have too many associations that are social clubs,” Woolley said at Mumbrella360. “They purely exist to leverage their influence either as advertisers or agencies.

“We have so many associations and what are they doing? Collectively nothing because they all expect someone else to do it . They say ‘Oh, we haven’t got the resources’ or ‘That’s not our area of expertise’ or ‘We are not really responsible’.

“So if you really want to improve things let’s shut down 90% of them and start focusing on what this is about, which is building value and creating growth in a sustainable way.

“Why have we got lost? Because there’s all these interest groups out there peddling crap. That is the trouble. They are doing it for their own self aggrandisement.”

He also claimed the AANA accused TrinityP3 of crying wolf back in 2012 when it raised the issue of transparency.

“They took the view that we ‘all know each other’ and ‘my mate at the agency wouldn’t screw me over’.

“No he’s not, but his bosses boss has got someone in London who has got a red-hot poker poking somewhere if he doesn’t deliver double-digit growth in a single-digit growth market,” Woolley said.

Nestle head of media and brand experience Michelle Katz said more could be done but that the issue “also comes down to individual marketers”.

Nicole Sheffield, Darren Woolley, James Greet, Michelle Katz and Alex Hayes at Mumbrella360

“The question is, is it best you handle it on an individual client-by-client basis or is it best done as an industry? Maybe clients are doing it but doing it under the radar,” she said.

News Corp chief digital officer Nicole Sheffield, who chairs IAB Australia and sits on other association boards, suggested part of the reason was that local industry associations are “tiny” compared to counterparts in the US.

“There is smaller investment and you have to pick what battles to fight,” she told delegates. “What tends to happen is that, where possible, we use global best practice. To reinvent the wheel here would take a lot of money and time and how different are we?”

But Sheffield admitted industry associations have become “murky” in the past six to nine months on how they define transparency.

“It’s probably not a popular thing to say but….people like the AANA have talked about viewability, but the IAB is on that so just let them do what they are doing. Let it be led by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.”



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