Sounding off: Part-time efforts can't cut the mustard for experiential

In November 2004, the Live Brand Experience Association (LBEA) was launched in front of 120 people with the stated aim of positioning live brand experience as a mainstream medium. Less than two years later, the LBEA can add three more letters to its initials - RIP.

The trade body's closure is a salutary lesson in how not to inaugurate and run a trade body, if a new trade body was indeed ever needed. After all the MCCA, IPA and PRCA already cover agencies' interests across the marketing communications spectrum, and many of us scratched our heads as to where exactly the LBEA fitted in. Two years later and we're still scratching.

If the LBEA was created to genuinely promote experiential marketing as a stand-alone discipline it needed to include clients and suppliers as well as agencies. The fact that it didn't was the first warning sign that issues such as 'best practice' and 'measurement and evaluation' weren't going to be the highest priorities of the organisation. Indeed, suspicions exist that the LBEA was created by a group of agencies not to champion experiential as a discipline but more to promote it for their own ends as a new business tool.

Furthermore, an industry trade body can only be managed effectively by a full-time secretariat. While agency heads' involvement is a real benefit to any trade body, ask them to undertake the smaller admin minutiae and you're heading for trouble. Additionally, part time trade bodies lack gravitas and are unable to respond to industry issues in real time. In an industry that's as dynamic as marketing, an 'it's Tuesday and we're closed' mentality is not going to work.

If experiential is going to take its rightful place at the marketing table, it needs to recognise that a stand-alone stance will be to its disadvantage. All disciplines must unite as a collective to further all our mutual interests. This summer's launch of the world's first guide for 'Judging Creative Ideas', a joint initiative by the MCCA, IPA, ISBA and PRCA, is an example of how a united, cooperative stance enhances the industry's standing and works in the best interests of everyone.

Scott Knox is managing director of the Marketing Communication Consultants Association (MCCA).

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