Talk of merger detracts from the real issue

It was with interest and some incredulity that I read Justine Storey’s article on the debate surrounding the merger of the Sale Promotion Consultants Association and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (MW Aril 19).

The future of the SPCA is of course of interest to us, Triangle being one of the first and founding members. As indeed is the role that involvement with the IPA may play in helping raise both our profile and influence in the marketing industry.

However, I am puzzled and concerned as to how the creation of a commercial arm of the SPCA will further the best interests of members, particularly when the two main objectives will be to recruit and “clone” graduates, then filter and “police” freelancers.

The SPCA has an important role in our industry. The guidelines that it published on issues such as remuneration are vital in helping to establish better commercial relationships with clients. Salary surveys help to prevent an overheating of our industry’s costs. The SPCA portfolio service is an essential reference for clients seeking new providers of promotional marketing and not least there are the SPCA Awards (in association with MW) which recognise the best work within our industry.

These are the areas that I believe fellow members want to focus on – industry-wide issues and opportunities that raise our credibility.

Of course I want to see the best calibre candidates joining the industry from university, and we all want a high standard of freelance support. But member agencies have an individual responsibility to ensure that this becomes a reality.

The Triangle Group runs a graduate training and recruitment programme. It takes time and effort but the cost is minimal compared with potential recruitment fees for account managers.

Matthew Hooper did not make it clear as to who would train these graduates and how member agencies would be able to achieve equal access to the best candidates.

As for the freelance issue, there are a number of reputable businesses, such as Stopgap, that understand our industry’s needs and by fostering the right sort of relationship there is no reason why we cannot insist on better quality resources that represent value to members. Perhaps the SPCA could help negotiate preferential rates on our behalf?

I have no doubt that the SPCA could have an active part in raising our profile in universities and colleges and represent members’ interests in discussion with freelance providers – this does not require a commercial venture. I am sure this will be a subject open to healthy debate, I only hope it doesn’t deflect attention from a possible future with the IPA, or from matters that will raise our status with clients, surely the foremost aim of the SPCA.

Andrew Orbell

Director & head of communications

Triangle Communications

London W1

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