American banking brand JPMorgan Chase has hired external auditors to examine its relationship with its US media agency ZenithOptimedia. The news comes in the wake of a damning report from US industry body ANA (Association of National Advertisers) that suggested media rebates were widespread among agencies in the States.
JPMorgan Chase in the US has confirmed to B&T the story – that first appeared on Business Insider – is accurate. The auditors hired for the investigation are K2 and Firm Decisions.
The Business Insider piece does not state ZenithOptimedia has done anything untoward regarding what was claimed in the ANA report, nor is B&T suggesting as such.
A JPMorgan spokesperson referred B&T to the statement sent to Business Insider: “We have launched an audit of Zenith, and have paused new work with them in the meantime. They have been cooperative, and we look forward to completing this quickly.” The examination allegedly came as a result of the ANA report.
B&T has contacted ZenithOptimedia in the US but had not heard back at the time of publication. CEO of ZenithOptimedia Australia and New Zealand, Matt James, said the audit and report has had no impact on the Australian arm of the business, and no local clients have launched audits.
A ZenithOptimedia spokesperson sent Business Insider this statement regarding the JPMorgan Chase audit: “We have a great relationship with JPMorgan Chase, with a strong partnership for more than a decade. Audits are a standard part of the business process. We look forward to a collaborative audit process and a continued relationship.”
ZenithOptimedia has held the media account for JPMorgan Chase since 2005, according to US trade media publication AdAge.
The ANA report
The ANA study came out three weeks ago, claiming media and cash rebates and non-transparent practices were rife in adland in the States.
“Advertisers and their agencies are lacking ‘full disclosure’ as the cornerstone principle of their media management practices,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA in a statement at the time.
“Such disclosure is absolutely essential if they are to build trust as the foundation of their relationships with their long-term business partners.
“Whether acting as agency or principal, vast changes in technology, the complex digital supply chain, and the proliferation of media outlets provided agencies with additional opportunities to increase their profit margins beyond agency fees.
“This has led to disconcerting conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency.”
Many media agencies hit back at the report, claiming it was “insubstantive” and used “subjective methodologies”.
Boss of mammoth communications network WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell, also questioned the report’s vaildity, claiming it wasn’t independent.
Lead image via The New York Times.