By: Michiel Scheeren
When reading this heading I can hear you thinking: here we have another ad agency guy who wants to discuss advertising pitches. And of course he doesn’t like it. Agencies are exploited, clients don’t know what they’re asking or, even worse, are looking for creative ideas without getting charged for it.
The standard answer is that clients also don’t get paid to make a quote or that the butcher who’s happy to slice you a sample of meat for free, doesn’t give you a kilo lump of meat either. And those are points (well) made. But honestly, we’ve all heard these arguments by now.
Recently, I was triggered about this topic on two different media channels:
- An ad agency from the south of Holland called for other agencies to join them in signing some sort of an agreement with conditions about pitches. Think of it as something like the 10 commandments (only there were 17) that are guidance for clients when organising a pitch.
- The VEA (Dutch Association of Communication Agencies) went mental about the fact that Tempo-Team had made an announcement to all agencies to get in contact with them if they would like their account.
Again, the world of advertising jumped on top of it and discussions, reactions, opinions, feedback and even some hate mails where published on all online (social) channels. Opponents and proponents. Some with a complete list of fundamental arguments. Some based on gut feeling. I was curious, so I started my own search on Google. And what did I notice? That it was mainly the agencies themselves that were arguing. ‘How dare clients abuse us in this way?’ ‘It should be forbidden!’ ‘Come on brothers, let’s unite and ban the clients!’. At the same time, other ‘fellow’ agencies were also the topic of discussion: ‘You always have some rotten apples that still do pitches. We should ban them!’
This is how it’s been for years, and I’m sure it will continue to be so for years to come. One of my former managing directors once said: ‘Pitching is something that’s a structural element in our market and jobs. You can argue against it, but it won’t change. Clients will continue to organise pitches forever. That’s the way it is, so don’t try to be Don Quixote. It’s negative energy and a waste of time’.
I couldn’t agree more. Stop complaining and do whatever suits you. Take part in a pitch or don’t. Start the conversation with a client to determine your own conditions. This will succeed, or not. And it will help you decide whether you step up or not. But if you are in, you’re in it to win it. Not to create the best work for that client. Sounds logical doesn’t it?