Advertising Groups Join Forces, Century-Long Legacies

The Association of National Advertisers, one the oldest trade groups in the advertising industry, announced plans acquire the Brand Activation Association—another group with a long legacy—last week. The associations each would bring more than 100 years of history and a different focus to a combined organization.

For more than a century, two of the oldest advertising associations have represented different sides of the marketing coin.

Since it was founded in 1910, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has  maintained a focus on the client’s role in advertising. Meanwhile, the Brand Activation Association (BAA)—formerly known as the Promotion Marketing Association and founded a year later—kept its approach centered on advertising through promotional materials and relationships.

We’re always looking to see how we can add to our portfolio, especially in the content area. Like any company, there are two ways: Build your own, or acquire.

But with the groups’ respective boards approving ANA’s acquisition of BAA last week, the two hope to meld their differing focuses and styles under a single umbrella—and a large one at that. ANA’s 600 members represent more than 10,000 brands and $250 billion in marketing spending. BAA’s various disciplines, meanwhile, represent $750 billion in sales, according to a press release.

In comments to The New York Times, BAA President and CEO Bonnie Carlson noted the additional clout that the move would bring the groups’ members—as well as the additional content, in the form of access to new conferences and resources. For example, BAA’s Law Conference and ANA’s Advertising Law and Public Policy Conference will be made available to members of both groups.

Carlson’s comments were echoed by her counterpart at ANA, Robert Liodice. “In trying to be a full-service association for our members, we’re always looking to see how we can add to our portfolio, especially in the content area,” Liodice told the Times. “Like any company, there are two ways: Build your own, or acquire.”

Once joined, BAA will continue to operate as a division of the larger ANA.

While there is some membership overlap, the acquisition does come with one complication: Agencies have traditionally been welcomed at BAA, but ANA has focused strictly on the client. Liodice said an associate membership will be offered to agency members to help make up for this difference.

Although the acquisition has been approved, there’s still a final step before it goes into effect on July 1: Members of the two groups will vote to ratify the acquisition at their June annual meetings.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that the Association of National Advertisers was merging with the Brand Activation Association. In actuality, ANA is acquiring BAA.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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