Pitching is all part of being in an agency, to some extent its the best part, the thrill of the chase, the battleground of the pitch itself and then the exhilaration and pride of a win or the dejection of loss. I am sure the more enlightened clients understand what goes on behind the scenes, but i have a feeling many don’t understand the true reality of the labour that goes on. A large pitch can use up a team of 30+ people, working night and day for three weeks to deliver the final product – do all clients understand that?
What has changed over time has been the length of the pitch presentations, some even very large pitches have now fallen to a time scale of 1 hour for even a large account. Many people will tell you that if you can’t get your good idea across in that time then it can’t be that good an idea, I disagree. Some ideas need explaining as do some concepts, especially around the new battle grounds in digital and 40 slides is not enough to bring that to life. I think a major pitch should afford the competing agencies the time to genuinely deliver ideas, if more time was spent, I think more would come out of the pitches, more questions asked and therefore more of a sense of the agency.
The problem comes when often the advertiser cant seem to be able to knock people out of the process at different stages, I have been in processes where there were still 5 or 6 agencies in at the end, that strikes of a complete lack of decision-making from a clients perspective and is not the right way to approach things – have less people in at the final stage and give them longer to present, that’s a good model.
If you have to cover, buying, digital, strategies, responses to briefs, creds and many other areas you will not get enough time in, I think they should get down to 2 for a final stage and then do a Boot camp process where the clients get to spend some decent time with the teams, after all we could be talking about a 100m budget, spend some time and get to know the agency strategies and ideas in detail, then make a decision.
I should add though, agencies on the whole do a great job of these situations, I would like to see them get a better chance to shine.