Faaez Samadi
Jul 4, 2018

4As Malaysia slams brands over 'unethical' pitch practices

Agency association takes stand against claims of clients demanding ownership of agency pitch ideas.

4As Malaysia slams brands over 'unethical' pitch practices

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) Malaysia has issued a strong statement berating brands that are engaging in what it calls “unethical and unfair” practices during the pitch process.

Specifically, the body has called out the “alarming number” of reports it has received from agencies that clients are “demanding the ownership of intellectual property in terms of ideas, plans and work product described in the [RFPs] regardless of which agency wins the pitch”.

“This is tantamount to clients demanding ideas without compensation,” the statement reads. 4As member agencies have reported a “surge” in this practice, with RFP documents issued by companies’ procurement department containing fine print regarding an “automatic ownership transfer” of any IP.

“We are especially concerned that this practice seems to have taken hold even at companies that claim to adhere to the highest business standards of fairness, integrity and conduct,” the statement said. “This demand for free ideas flies in the face of their claims, and contradicts core business principles and global norms of business dealings.”

The association asks for agencies to take a stand and simply refuse to participate in any RFPs that contain these provisions, while also demanding that company leaders remove such clauses from their proposals.

“If marketers wish to retain the ideas that are generated during the RFP process, there are various options available to fairly recompense the agencies for these, which the 4As would be delighted to share with them,” the statement said.

Prashant Kumar, senior partner at Entropia, said the problem is "clearly unfair".

"This is what happens when businesses have too many whatever-you-can-get-away-with lawyers and extra passionate procurement, and not enough fair and inspired marketers," he added.

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