The news is at last confirmed that Omnicom have purchased Communispace, another sign that MROCs are becoming mainstream. However, that is not the focus of this post, this post looks at some of the frankly bizarre comments in the media before Christmas about client confidentiality in market research, in the context of the, then rumoured, Communispace deal.
Good examples of bizarre views came from Marketing Week’s Stuart Smith , Kunar Patel at Ad Age, and especially the asinine headline from Jim Edwards “Omnicom’s $100M Focus-Group Deal: How to Overpay to Spy on Your Rivals”.
Perhaps in their version of the advertising industry it is ethical and legal to conduct industrial espionage on behalf of a parent company, but that has not been my experience in the market research industry. Companies in MR do not pass confidential information about clients to other companies in the same group nor to parent or holding companies, this is specified by our codes of conduct (for example the ESOMAR code) and in many countries it is a legal requirement. Indeed, inside most market research companies the team working for client A do not share information with the team working for client B.
For example, when (some years ago) I worked for Millward Brown, there was never any suggestion that we would supply confidential information about our client to say RI or to one of the WPP advertising agencies, even when the client was an advertising agency.
So was the suggestion, that many of Communispace’s clients would be forced to leave if Omnicom bought them, mischief making, ill-informed comment, or an attempt to create news rather than report it?