4As Snubbed By Two of the Best

I didn’t think it was possible for W+K and Goodby to earn yet another degree of respect from me, but they have. According to Ad Age, neither agency feels the need to join the American Association of Advertising Agencies, commonly known as the 4As.

Dan Wieden will never be part of the organization, according to his spokeswoman, because the shop felt rejected when it applied for membership in 1982. When Mr. Wieden wrote to the association seeking membership at that time, questions were raised about the agency’s financial stability. Even these many years later, a mention of the ad association in Wieden’s corporate headquarters has a certain taboo.
At Goodby, Partner and General Manager Harold Sogard said money also is an issue in his shop’s refusal to join the group. “We aren’t anti-social, but we never felt the value of what we might receive was equivalent to the cost,” Mr. Sogard said. “We appreciate the lobbying and once offered to contribute, but they refused. They said, ‘Be a complete member or nothing.'”

Let’s be real. Membership in the 4As is about status. They maintain country club-like entry requirements in order to keep the riff raff out, and to provide that special glow to the agencies willing and able to meet their standards. Goodby and Wieden don’t need a club to feel special. They’re already in another league.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.