Charlotte Rawlings
Jul 15, 2022

UK study finds majority are ‘disenfranchised’ with pitching

The Future of the Pitch 2022 survey was conducted by Creativebrief.

Creativebrief: 92% of agency CEOs and 59% of CMOs said traditional pitch process was not fit for purpose (Getty)
Creativebrief: 92% of agency CEOs and 59% of CMOs said traditional pitch process was not fit for purpose (Getty)

UK consultancy Creativebrief has found a lack of faith in the traditional pitch process from both brands and agencies in its Future of the Pitch 2022 report.

The report was created using an industry-wide survey, which questioned 50 brand chief marketing officers and 50 agency chief executives about the pitch process.

The survey is an updated version of a study conducted by Creativebrief in 2018 and also features views from Starbucks, Foot Locker, Pukka, Saatchi & Saatchi, The & Partnership and VaynerMedia.

According to the report, 92% of agency chief executives and 59% of brand CMOs thought that the traditional pitch process was not fit for purpose today.

When diving deeper into the statement, 97% of agencies and 59% of brands said the traditional pitch was not in line with modern-day expectations around responsible and ethical business practice.

This presented quite a jump ib 2018, where only 38% of brands shared the same view.

The report includes opinion and commentary from Creativebrief as well as Nabs and Creative Equals.

Sue Todd, chief executive of Nabs, touched on the mental health implications of pitching and why so many believed the traditional process was not responsible or ethical business practice.

“It is important that we focus on team well-being during pitches and keep cognisant of the ways that good stress, which drives creativity and growth, can turn to bad stress, which is counterproductive and potentially damaging,” Todd said.

“It isn’t always easy to spot the differences between good and bad stress and mental health impacts are often invisible. It’s incumbent upon leaders to ensure that their teams are looked after during pitching.”

Respondents were also asked their opinion on the statement: “The traditional pitch provides a true sense of what an agency/brand would be like to work with.” Here, 81% of agencies and 74% of brands disagreed.

Charlie Carpenter, Creativebrief’s chief executive, said: “The results from our 2022 survey point to a clear majority of both brand and agency leaders feeling increasingly disenfranchised with the pitch process as it stands today.

“With agencies virtually unanimous that the pitch is not fit for purpose or responsible and ethical, and brands in majority agreement too – it’s clear that there is an increasing mandate for change, and a real opportunity now presenting itself.”

Carpenter added: “Combine this with clear agreement that the process is not a true representation of what a future relationship may be like – and it would seem an Einstein-like definition of madness for the industry to simply continue doing what it has always done.”

The report gave a summary of the main factors given by respondents as to why the traditional pitch process was not fit for purpose today.

It said that it contributes to the wider commoditisation of creativity with the industry still demanding work for free, which therefore puts an unnecessary strain on resources and the mental health of employees, as well as having a negative impact on diversity and inclusion.

To create change, 69% of agency leaders felt that agencies should refuse to engage in the traditional pitch process more.

Brands seem to have an open mind towards this rebellion, with 67% sharing that they would still consider working with agencies that have refused to engage in the pitch process.

When presented with the statement: “I would support a change in emphasis in the pitch process that focused more on in-depth interrogation and diagnosis of the brief, than on reaching answers and solutions”, 91% of agencies and 56% of brands agreed.

“Encouragingly, our survey points to an increasing recognition on both sides of fundamental flaws in the existing approach to pitching, and a growing appetite for modernisation and reform,” Carpenter said.

“However, it is clear that one of the biggest enemies of change right now is the lack of visible, viable alternatives to the traditional pitch – which, in turn, sees too many defaulting to old and tired behaviours that perpetuate the negative cycle.”

The report did, however, present a potential remedy to this issue, agreed upon by both the agency side and the brand side, with a striking 100% of agencies and 96% of brands saying they would consider working with a brand or agency on a three month, paid-for project in place of the pitch.

Carpenter concluded: “We hope this report will play its part in opening the doors to innovation in the pitch process, and enable the industry to go further and faster in driving real, deep reform and change. The time is now.”

Campaign UK

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