Ben Bold
May 25, 2023

Pitch process wastes time, money, and impacts mental health: report

MediaSense interviewed directors and C-suite ad professionals across the globe.

Pitching: affecting industry's mental health (Getty Images/David Wall)
Pitching: affecting industry's mental health (Getty Images/David Wall)

The pitch process is both excessively time- and cost-exhaustive for the vast majority (86%) of agencies, while nearly two-thirds (64%) found it damaging to agency culture and more than half (54%) said it affects staff mental health, according to research.

The findings are part of a global study by pitch intermediary MediaSense, which has published its inaugural Pitch Smart report. The analysis looks at where the process is at and how it can be improved.

The report's overarching narrative is that while pitching is an inevitable aspect of agency life, adland is increasingly beleaguered by pressures from advertisers, such as a disconnect between the expectations around what clients want and what they actually need.

A lack of transparency from clients was highlighted in the report, with transparency around agency selection criteria scoring just four out of 10.

MediaSense's study was based on research conducted among more than 100 ad professionals, predominantly at C-suite and director level, working both globally and regionally at holding companies, network agencies, specialists and independents.

For MediaSense, the overriding outtake from its analysis was that the pitch process and criteria used to select agencies were "no longer fit for the future".

That said, the report did unearth some largely positive findings, such as that 84% of respondents believed that pitching is a valuable learning exercise for teams, 83% considered it a good opportunity to showcase their best work, and 44% felt it was energising for staff (compared with 35% who did not).

But 46% of those quizzed said it was increasingly difficult to get people to work on pitches (versus 34% who disagreed), while 43% reckoned it was becoming more difficult to determine which RFPs to pitch for.

Requests for information, or RFIs, are a common practice for advertisers in the initial stages of a review, with agencies providing factual data to a prospective client. MediaSense noted that while such information is readily available and thus "not too onerous" to supply, 94% of respondents viewed the RFI as an ineffective means of showing their agency's capabilities, mainly as it lacks nuance and fails to reflect an agency's culture, indentity and uniqueness.

The results of the survey come after a swathe of reviews across adland – John Lewis, Sainsbury's and Nationwide, to name a few – and as the IPA and ISBA's Pitch Positive Pledge marks its first anniversary. Progress has been made, but there is "some way to go before it achieves its desired effect for all", Campaign concluded in a feature on the Pledge last week.

Ryan Kangisser, managing partner, strategy at MediaSense, said: "While the pitch still remains a necessary vehicle for advertisers to source the right agency partner, this study reveals an overwhelming desire to evolve the process to one which is more streamlined, practical and transparent.

"While tempting to test everything, advertisers should focus on the capabilities and values that matter and design a process accordingly."

The report can be downloaded from MediaSense's website.

Campaign Asia

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