&Partners raise the issue of pitching in light of an increase in speculative and project RFPs

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A very tongue-in-cheek ad in the current issue of Campaign Brief WA magazine has raised the perennial issue of pitching.

The house ad by &Partners calls for clients to tender to the agency for its services. According to creative director, Dav Tabeshfar, it was prompted by the agency finding themselves involved in what they considered to be exploitative pitch processes. Creative director, Bryan Dennis noted that while some pitch processes were run with fairness and respect for IP, you often end up pitching for relatively small projects where the client is looking for a finished marketing solution, with little or no fee.

He said the agency had invested considerable time and expense on some, only to be told they wouldn't be proceeding with any campaign.

The cost of pitching can be significant for any agency, especially smaller ones, which are often flat-out servicing their existing client base and have less 'spare' capacity to invest in a process that might deliver a return.

Danielle Norrish, State Manager of The Communications Council, said over the years the organisation has published a number of guidelines regarding best practice pitching. Whilst there is no official position on agencies being paid for pitches, Norrish said she had been contacted from time-to-time by clients seeking guidance on this matter.
Cooch's Ron Samuel, who has also seen his fair share of speculative pitches, said the requirements had also changed in recent years. He said nowadays RFPs invariably asked for a digital strategy, which constituted some valuable IP from the agency but that was quite easy to take away and use without any compensation; more so than a creative idea, for example.

The consensus is that while payment usually covers a small proportion of the costs incurred, it indicates serious intent from a client. It means they recognise the time and intellectual effort put into the process, and was a good indication that a campaign would actually go ahead.

Recently, Diabetes WA and the Perth Royal Show have conducted pitches, with a fee paid to the participating agencies. Neither of them are big advertisers but it demonstrated an admirable acknowledgement of the value of the work submitted.

Of course, agencies always have the option of saying 'no' to any invitation to pitch - paid or otherwise. That needs to be weighed against the potential opportunity of new business. Nevertheless, some agencies no longer pitch due to the uncertainty of outcomes for the cost involved.

Pitching is, and has always been, a contentious aspect of the industry. &Partners' novel approach has had some fun and turned it into a positive for the agency.

3 Comments

Tim said:

Niiiiiiice!

Hannah said:

Haha! This is great.

Exploited said:

Couldn’t agree more.
Do clients genuinely think that the best results for their marketing will come out of pitting agencies against each other in situations that often lack critical client input?


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