Staff Reporters
Sep 29, 2021

Campaign asks: How much of a problem is bribery in ad pitches in APAC?

SPOT SURVEY: Stories about bribes tilting the scales in the agency-selection process come to light from time to time, as they did earlier this week involving WPP in India. But how prevalent is the practice in the region? We need you to tell us in this short, anonymous survey.


The selection of agencies should always proceed according to merit, with the best-suited agency prevailing by winning the client's confidence in a fair and open process.

But of course we all know that doesn't always happen.

Earlier this week, holding-company giant WPP incurred a $19 million fine from the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a range of offenses relating to accounting standards. Among these, the government agency specifically stated that a WPP subsidiary in India repeatedly bribed government officials in return for advertising contracts—and continued to do so after receiving complaints. WPP declined to admit or deny any of the SEC's findings.

Another incident came to light in 2020, when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) detained three directors from Malaysian PR agency IO Movement for alleged bribery and falsifying of documents around a Tourism Malaysia campaign worth RM90 million (US$21 million).

A trip deeper into the Campaign Asia-Pacific archives also finds incidents in 2017 in Pakistan (Orientm McCann president arrested on corruption charges in Pakistan) and 2016 in Korea (MD of JWT Korea arrested on corruption charges).

These news reports provide rare public glimpses of a practice many believe to be fairly common in Asia-Pacific. But how common? Are such incidents outliers, or the tip of a corruption iceberg?

Help Campaign Asia-Pacific comprehend the scope of the problem by taking our anonymous and short survey—it should take no more than a few minutes. It asks about your first- and second-hand knowledge of bribery incidents, how prevalent you think the practice is and in what markets, whether large or small agencies are more likely to engage in bribery, and more.

Campaign greatly appreciates your input and will share the results of the survey within the next few days. 

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