Tuesday, July 20

Choosing an agency, #2; Agencies don't like creative pitches...or do they?


For years, agency associations have argued that pitches which depend upon speculative creative work are not good practice. I wrote a blogpost supporting this viewpoint back in March. However I am starting to believe that the agencies, at least here in CZ, are not fundamentally against them. They are only against them because clients do not pay for them. Secretly, they enjoy them.

At RRA our professional advice will continue to be that they are unhelpful as a way for the client to choose an agency as a long - term partner. Clients focus on the different creative ideas, which have been produced based on a minimal understanding of the client's business, and do not focus at all on whether the agency team will consistently produce good ideas. The winning agency is often just lucky. For clients, tenders should not be a matter of luck. They should be rigorous, and wide-ranging. Most clients don't want to do one every year.

However many agencies have persuaded themselves that a ‘transparent' tender is one where all the agencies start with an equal chance of winning. They think of it as a kind of sport. Because creative ideas often do seem to come from inspiration, rather than a process, they hope their creative teams will be the lucky ones. But only one can win, and the losers become very bitter about all the money they wasted. They look for conspiracies and "friendships" between client and winning agency to explain their defeat.

A tender is held to help the client decide which agency is the best long term partner. It is transparent when the client is clear about the reasons for the pitch, how many agencies are in the pitch, what the criteria will be for deciding the winner, and when all agencies have equal access to information needed to produce strategic recommendations or original work.

Save agencies from themselves! Examine them on the 20+ critieria that are important for a successful long -term relationship. Don't ask them for speculative creative ideas. Great creative campaigns around the world did not come out of pitches.

The agencies ought to be pleased if you do this. Some of them may be secretly disappointed or even puzzled. But you will make a better choice, and you won't have to do it again next year.

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