Agencies tell prospective clients to stop wasting their time and money
Tania Banotti: "Have the guts to say, if the relationship has broken down, that you're not in the running." PHOTOGRAPH: ANTHONY WOODS
Advertisers are asking clients to limit the number of agencies they invite to pitch for new accounts, amid industry concern that too much money is being spent on creative work that is rejected.
The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) has launched a new guide to finding an agency in a bid to avoid situations where half a dozen or more agencies spend as much as six-figure sums on a pitching process where only one agency can win.
IAPI chief executive Tania Banotti told a round table of senior executives from Ireland’s advertising industry on Tuesday that estimates from the UK industry suggest as much as 80 per cent of creative work never sees the light of day.
Agencies often spend €70,000 to €100,000 in production costs and labour hours pitching for an account. For the biggest accounts, it can be more. In 2011, the four agencies that pitched for the National Lottery account estimated their outlay at €150,000 each.
The IAPI Guide to Finding an Agency – available at iapi.ie/pitchguide– suggests that clients hold “chemistry meetings” with agencies as part of a long-list process. These meetings are designed to answer fundamental questions such as “Can we work together?” and “Is this the sort of agency we want?”.
The number of agencies on the shortlist should be between three and six, it advises. At this stage, the pitch should be “strategic-only” rather than involving speculative creative work, which Banotti describes as “very time-consuming” and “distracting to clients”. This process should take place over a four-week timetable.
If the client wants to see creative work, a maximum of four agencies should be shortlisted and the process should take six weeks.
The incumbent holder of the account should not be included if they have no chance of retaining the account.
“Have the guts to say, if the relationship has broken down, that you’re not in the running,” says Banotti.
A limit of three to five executions of the creative idea should be shown. “Sometimes we are our own worst enemy on this,” Banotti says.
IAPI also has a “particular issue” with sealed pitches in which clients, often in the public sector, ask agencies to submit envelopes explaining their ideas without any face-to-face meetings.
“We feel we’re the specialists and we’re presenting to non-specialists and our ideas have the potential to be taken up the wrong way if we do not get the chance to present them,” says Banotti.
IAPI intervened in recent pitches by Dublin Bus and Irish Water, after the former gave shortlisted agencies too tight a timeframe to present and the latter had initially hoped to bypass face-to-face meetings.
“This is about being clever for all our sakes,” says IAPI president Liam McDonnell, chief executive of the agency Aegis.
“We have to go back to the fact that a growing economy and a healthy advertising industry are inextricably linked.”