Will They Respect Us The Morning After?

Will They Respect Us The Morning After?

Free Pitching to get new clients is a common practice within the advertising industry. However, does it make it right? Is it also a choice that spells success for the agency and the client?

Recently I was invited by “Marketing” magazine to contribute an article for it’s “Ad Insider” page.

I took a couple of days to reflect on my days in full-fledged advertising agencies, where working 16 hours a day is not uncommon. I have many fond memories of those late nights in the cubicle with impossible deadlines, endless meetings and challenging pitches. When I was with a British ad agency, we were invited to pitch almost every other week. We were very busy researching and cranking up new ideas to win accounts that most agencies would drool for.

We won more than we lost. Still, my account director’s pet peeve is Singapore’s advertising industry did not believe in paying pitching fees. During my 3 years tenure, only one client offered a pitching fee for our efforts. Eventually, I understood why this issue of “free” pitching irritated my management so. Especially after I started my own two outfits.

I therefore wrote “Will they respect us the morning after” for Marketing magazine. It was recently published in it’s November 2007 issue. Click and magnify to read the full article.

[tags]free pitching[/tags]


14 Replies to “Will They Respect Us The Morning After?”

  1. Good point and I agree with your ex-management’s disgust on ‘pitching for free’ I guess it depends on the industry! Had been in the Contracting Business and we pitched for free when we tendered for a project! Numerous man hours and what not’s and in the end you may not get so much as a thank-you! The winner takes all! I guess its the cost of bidding for jobs, contracts etc. It will be a good thing if they pay some fees for all the trouble!

  2. Great article!

    I think the problem of clients wanting work for free, or nearly free, is almost universal in the creative professions.

  3. Hi Vivienne!
    I congratulate you on this article you wrote to a publication! Its great way to shoulder the responsibility to safeguard the profession; where there is severe misuse and exploitation.
    But how many of us stand and fight? Its for instant results we pander to the vultures out there( some greedy,short-sighted jealots who call themselves as progressive entrepreneurs!).
    I told one agency head to stand his ground to one client who wants to give to anyone who’s willing to pitch and is servile. But he has to feed his people, he can’t help.
    Anyway, we must make a beginning. I appreciate your guts and the bravado. Its but true as the sunlight: only if you, absolutely, stand the ground we’ll have more respect.
    Thanks for giving a sense of pride in what we are passionate about. Great way to begin this new year, Vivienne!!!

  4. Some agencies succumbed in view of the revenue the account can generate. It can be a tough call to choose between income and principle. As you rightfully pointed out, the agency needs to feed its people.

  5. Hi Vivienne,

    as you saw on our blog we have instituted a new pitch technique to screen our prospects. In a nutshell we ask them to pitch so we can decide whether they are worth the effort, not just financially but intellectually as well.

    This comes in addition to our informal screening cum. non-pitch method. This new formal screening has so far made a laugh a lot but has not yet delivered anything (too soon to tell I suppose).

    This being said, our informal screening as worked very well. Clients who accept to play the game usually end up being good clients to us. i.e. We still have their respect in the morning.

    Oh, and Bokjae, the picture IS the link, just zoom in!


  6. No client will pay – never been done and probably never will. It seems that the principle is correct but the world and the industry is as such.

    I believe it boils down to INTEGRITY of the people/client in the industry. If these people have integrity, they will not take your ‘freely given’ ideas and run with it leaving you in the lurch. That said, you may have a lot of ideas from one agency but maybe just another small portion from another agency. So it’s not really that unethical if the client takes the small portion and integrate it into the whole chosen concept.

    I feel that if you see majority of your ideas being used by someone else, I cannot deny that you will feel disappointed. I believe that there is no right or wrong – it’s just a perspective of integrity. If you feel strongly enough that your idea must be protected, then I personally say ‘don’t pitch!’ in the first place. Things like this is bound to happen – that’s the way it’s been for so long anyway.

    I question then: Will the 4As in Singapore be able to protect the ideas and implement standards of compensation for pitched ideas? If not, where still does that leave us?

    In life, there are lots of gray areas – and especially with the marketing and advertising industry, all the more. If you really feel so strongly about it, then I would say you’re probably in the wrong line.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing again. Very interesting read and thought-provoking.

  7. Hi Lisa
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I do feel strongly about it and therefore I chose to take a stand publicly. Many people in the industry felt the same but they would not say it aloud for fear of losing their clients. For the advertising scene to change, it is for the advertising folks to take the lead to initiate the change and not wait for any organisation.

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