How ISBA Took Centre Stage

Article excerpt

The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers meets this week with a renewed sense of purpose under John Hooper.

Three years ago 'geriatric dinosaur' was a common description of ISBA, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers.

The body set up to act as a collective voice for Britain's top marketing companies was seen as outdated, complacent and ineffective.

But it appears that ISBA has taken a lesson in marketing and is now getting its message over to the client community.

ISBA has spent the last year trying to remedy its faults under the guidance of director general John Hooper, who joined just over a year ago.

At this week's ISBA Policy Conference, Hooper announced that 18 more companies had decided to join ISBA over the last year. The new companies include heavyweights such as Coca-Cola, Burger King, Walkers Snack Foods, Sony and Thomas Cook.

But Hooper, whose honesty has been cited by members as one of the main reasons for the reversal of ISBA's fortunes, admits there is still a long way to go.

"We have 312 member companies, but we need to increase it to include more of the top 500 advertisers."

If ISBA can show the government and the European Community it has the backing of Britain's leading advertisers, it will carry a lot more clout.

It has already shown some strength in its campaign last year for ITV, the UK's biggest advertising vehicle, to improve its own marketing. Pressure from ISBA helped prompt ITV's move to set up its new Marketing Group, hike its own advertising budget to [pounds]5m and appoint a dedicated marketing manager.

But ISBA's membership lists show that, while some areas, such as alcohol and food manufacturers, have joined en masse, others, such as car and travel companies, have still to be convinced.

"We would really like to get more car manufacturers on board," says Hooper. "We've got Rover, Vauxhall and VW, but we've had no joy with other companies, particularly the French ones such as Peugeot, Renault and Citroen."

Car companies have been slow to turn to ISBA because they need little lobbying done on their behalf, whereas food and alcohol advertisers need all the help they can get. …