Don’t be blindsided by the ‘Transparency’ buzzword

By Ikon Group Sydney Pat Crowley

Don't Be Blindsided By The Transparency Buzzword

You’ll have to excuse me if it feels like I’m a little late to the transparency party, but it just doesn’t feel like new news from an Ikon perspective.  It’s the same issue that led us to form our business 17 years ago, and it took the rest of the industry 13 years before anyone copied us. 

There’s been a lot of talk recently about it within the media industry, most notably from the Marks – Marc Pritchard and Mark Ritson.  As is the way in our circles, everyone’s latched on to the new buzzword in order to look like we’re on top of the latest industry trend.  Perhaps it’s time to reframe this conversation a little?

What happens if we remove ‘Transparency’ and replace it with the more universally understood ‘Principles’?

The use of the word transparency suggests that something is unclear in the first place.  Whereas the Oxford Dictionary defines first principles as “the fundamental concepts or assumptions on which theory, system or method is based”. 

Much has been made of the way elements of our industry have been somewhat ‘opaque’ in their operations.  Human nature being what it is, there are always people who are happy to operate in the grey if they believe it will earn them a buck.  Advertising and media are no more susceptible or immune than any other industry.  The onus is on all of us to choose the standards by which we operate and to pry deeply into the values of our partners too.  I wonder how many procurement scorecards rank principles over cost?  Actually, I wonder how many of those assessments even have a principles column?

Since day one we have stood by a model of media buying that broke convention, driven by a belief that we could achieve a better outcome for clients whilst creating a viable business model for ourselves.  Within that open, honest construct we’ve been able to build strong relationships with our media partners whilst still delivering an audited buying performance that exceeds industry standards.  This is evidenced by our number one Transparency ranking on the industry’s Media-I survey from May 2016. 

If agencies allow their negotiations with clients to be driven by ‘how much?’ then they’re effectively positioning themselves in a dark, grey corner.  I’d like to thank our clients for supporting our approach to business over the years as it’s allowed us to build an agency we can be proud of. 

Principles aren’t the be all and end all, but they’re a good place to start for all of us.  So, next time you hear someone talking about transparency, perhaps you should ask them if they want to have a conversation about principles?  Let’s start by asking what you stand for, rather than what you’ll kneel for.