ADVERTISING AGENCY ORGANISATIONS
The range of organisations that have represented the interests of advertising agencies reflect the agencies’ changing status.
‘Full-service’ agencies only emerged in Australia at the beginning of the 20th century, with the first successful moves to form an organisation to serve advertising agency interests occurring in 1914. The Victorian Ad Men’s Club provided a forum to discuss issues affecting the industry. Similar state-based institutes followed nationally in the inter-war period alongside a loose federal organisation, the Advertising Association of Australia.
While these organisations staged advertising conventions throughout the 1920s, their diverse membership saw the growing number of agencies form their own organisations to protect their unique interests. Agencies that had been accredited by the assorted state press organisations simultaneously sought to protect their hard-earned status and to enhance their interests by forming their own exclusive associations. Advertising students also formed their own organisations and produced their own publications, while social organisations such as the Sydney Publicity Club (est. 1929) provided a similar networking and socialising forum for advertising professionals.
During World War II, government regulations on advertising imagery, newsprint rationing and acute human resources shortages underscored the need for a national body to represent the agencies’ interests. Uniting the states’ accredited agency organisations, the Australian Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) was formed in 1946. The 4As actively promoted agency interests through lobbying, publications and conventions. However, growing concerns about the larger agencies’ perceived dominance and their foreign ownership status led to the creation of the Australian-owned Advertising Agencies Council (Austac) in 1972. The ensuing civil war left all agencies exposed, and in 1974 the Advertising Federation of Australia (AFA) was created to bring both sides together.
In addition to uniting the nation’s agencies, the AFA worked to protect agency interests from government, advertisers and consumerist organisations by championing self-regulation. It also supported the Media Council of Australia’s accreditation system. However, the void caused by the abandonment of accreditation system in 1996 required the AFA to refocus its energies on enhancing advertising’s reputation through various Codes of Practice, educational programs and awards.
Industry fragmentation and the rapid expansion of new media outlets in the 2000s changed the advertising landscape. Concerned that such diversification was creating a divided industry, the AFA joined forces with the Australasian Art Writers and Art Directors Association (AWARD), the Account Planning Group and the Australasian Promotional Marketing Association in 2010 to form the Communications Council.
REFs: R. Crawford, But Wait, There’s More ... (2008); http://www.communicationscouncil.org.au.