Agencies spend a lot of time and money on new business pitches, often with terrible odds of winning. And many advertisers, during the downturn in the economy, are asking for more from the pitch process without paying.
Belgian advertising agencies have embarked on a one-week strike in protest against advertisers who have stopped following a charter governing norms that are supposed to govern the industry, reports Advertising Age.
The striking agencies wanted to raise the unfairness of the current pitch process for new business. Their points of contention:
- Pitches involving 10 or more agencies put them in the impossible position of throwing resources at contracts they only have a 10% chance of winning
- Each pitch can cost participating agencies, on average, over $100,000
- Pitches also use up valuable creative energy that would normally be provided to their own clients
- The current pitch process can turn the economic downturn into a demise for participating agencies
“Because of the [economic] crisis, advertisers were getting aggressive and not following the rules, and it only works if everyone sticks to the charter,” said Luc De Leersnyder, CEO of the ACC, Belgium’s association of communication companies, which masterminded the strike. “I wrote a letter to members [saying] if you’re called into a pitch and know there are six or seven other guys and that you’ll spend 80,000 euros on the pitch, you have a better chance at a casino.”
Participating striking agencies replaced their regular websites to host a letter of protest for one week. The letter ran across the front page of each of their websites, from one agency to the next.
You can view the letter in the following SlideShare presentation made up of screen shots from the participating agencies Websites created by Ed Lee, managing director at com.motion, an online and social media marketing consultancy,Toronto, ON.
Michael Killeen, managing director of Dialogue Marketing, offers some thoughts to stimulate debate and get all parties around the table to find the ultimate solution we equally desire:
- Increase face time
- Discuss fees up front
- Create a third-party audited list of agency credentials
- Create audited lists of client satisfaction
- RIP the RFP questionnaire
- Find out from other clients
- Have clients co-present with their agencies
- Do away with speculative work or pay for it
- Create trial periods so fees and scope can be accurately determined
- Is it time to bring in a pitch charge?
Watch the video, “ACC The Virtual Strike”, also read more about the strike in this Ad Age article, “In Virtual Strike, Belgium’s Ad Agencies Close Their Sites”
What are some creative ways to bring agencies and clients together to create a new business process that is a win-win for both? What is your view of the current pitch process? Do you have suggestions on how to make the pitch process better?