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In March of 2015, Jon Mandel, an experienced c-level executive on Madison Avenue, declared in a keynote speech at the ANA annual conference that “kick-backs” at the advertising agency level and/or at the conglomerate holding companies who control close to 80% ownership of the world’s largest advertising agencies were pervasive, totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Mandel’s speech sent shockwaves through every side of the business associated with advertising, most prominently the top advertising brands who were allegedly being left in the dark.

When the ANA announced that it had hired two outside consultants, one with cyber security experience, to advise the ANA, the advertising industry’s largest trade organization representing brands like P&G, Unilever, AT&T and hundred more, I published a blog post on the advertising industry scandal. that Jon Mandel brought to the forefront at the ANA’s annual convention.

In my three decades working for Hollywood Studios, the largest broadcast television groups and working on Madison Avenue can I recall a more explosive event triggered by one very brave and bold individual, Jon Mandel.  Some credit has to go to the ANA board who had to have approved the content of the speech as Mandel was serving as a paid consultant at the time.

After that, the ANA went through a vetting process for consultants to investigate and recommend potential fixes to the board.  Having been a part of one of the finalist groups presenting to the ANA’s executive committee, I can attest to firsthand experience that the ANA with Jon Mandel still participating as a consultant were serious and on a timeline to advance the discussion.  The only exception I took to the ultimate approach that was being taken was making the broad discussion more open to the community who had a vested interest in findings and the outcome.

Maybe suggesting the use of social media was too progressive for this group, but I pointed out that it was the only way to let all stakeholders have a voice in the process.  So now trade journalists and industry experts are left wondering what, if anything, is going on as both the WSJ.com and Jack Meyers, industry expert, did in published stories where the headlines were:

“Seven Months Later: Smoke But No Fire”  Media Village.

After over three hundred hours of research preparing for the presentation to the ANA executive committee and Jon Mandel, I felt like I had a good understanding of the critical issues which required infographics to explain.  Without having some public debate, the industry may not hear a word from the ANA on the so called “transparency” issues, or “kick-backs”, “fraud” for years because it is complicated, heated, and almost impossible for two organizations that have so much at stake, ANA and AAAA’s, to reach consensus.ANA_Blog

Case and point where the AAAA’s, Agency’s trade group, feeling pressure made a public announcement, prematurely in my view, without the support of the ANA.  I believe I said this was the advertising industry’s version of the “Watergate Scandal.”   Because of that, I think Jon Mandel should get the book rights and play himself in the movie to a story that is destined to get published.

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