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PPAI Ousts ASI as a Member

By Aug 31, 2005

The board of directors of the Promotional Products Association International last Tuesday expelled the Advertising Specialty Institute from its membership, saying ASI’s conduct was detrimental to the association. ASI had been a member for about 55 years.

“Events over the past few years led the board to take this action because it’s become increasingly clear that our core values and business methods are not aligned,” said Danny Sirmon, chairman of PPAI’s board, in a statement.

Tim Andrews, the president of ASI, said yesterday that both ASI and PPAI compete on a number of levels, including trade shows and products and services, and that ASI’s effective competition against PPAI in some areas had led to its expulsion.

“At the end of the day, they don’t like that we compete with them, so they kicked us out,” Andrews told PROMO P&I. “It’s as simple as that.”

PPAI charged that ASI disparaged its products and services, including its Universal Promotional Identification Code (UPIC) Directory and UPIC credit services, and that ASI leveraged its membership against the association and made efforts to confuse the marketplace. PPAI also claimed that ASI had made it difficult for regional nonprofit membership organizations to engage in activities with PPAI and that it had threatened PPAI with legal actions.

“It was not just one specific action that has been harmful to PPAI, but rather cumulative activities by ASI over a number of years,” said Steve Slagle, president of PPAI.

In a letter dated June 30, ASI was notified that the PPAI board was considering a vote to revoke its membership. The letter asked if ASI would like to appear before the board or respond by mail. Andrews attended a board meeting held Aug. 22 at PPAI headquarters in Dallas, which the full board attended, Andrews said.

He said he spent about a half hour or so talking about ways the two entities could work together. The next day Slagle called to say that ASI had been voted out as a member, Andrews said.

In a statement, PPAI outlined specific examples of what it said were disparagements against it, including a September 2003 editorial in The Counselor, published by ASI, that PPAI said attacked UPIC. In part the editorial read: “the widespread adoption of UPIC could undermine the industry and, especially for distributors, jeopardize your entire business.”

“We see these remarks as an attempt to maintain dominance as the sole provider of products and services core to their business model,” Sirmon said.

The UPIC Directory houses detailed information on 24,000 companies in the industry and is available to PPAI members. ASI has had a similar numbering system available to its members for decades. ASI has about 18,000 distributor members and 3,200 supplier members. PPAI has about 3,600 distributor members and 1,700 supplier members.

Andrews said the expulsion will not affect ASI members, however, ASI will not be permitted to exhibit at PPAI shows or have access to other benefits PPAI members enjoy. Andrews said PPAI is welcome to exhibit at ASI shows.