How To Run A Perfect Advertising Agency Pitch
Avi Dan followed me as the guy running Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising Worldwide’s business development program (and, I think did a better job than me as by the end of my tenure all I could think about was the growing Internet space). Avi just wrote the following article on LinkedIn about the subject of the good, bad, and ugly advertising agency pitch. I thought that I’d respond a bit to his thinking because I wrote the New York Times best-selling book on how to run the world’s most powerful, new business-delivering ad agency pitch.
From Avi’s bio… “Avi Dan is a columnist for Forbes, a former CEO and board member of 3 major agencies, and a highly regarded agency pitch consultant. By his own estimate, he has been involved in over 200 pitches in the past 30 years.”
Q&A With A Pitch Consultant: “Don’t Hire The Agency That Inspires You, Hire The Agency That Is Inspired BY YOU”
In 2019, the year right before Covid, a Morgan Stanley analyst had reported that a record $35 Billion of advertising spending was up for review. That was almost more money hanging in the balance than the amount under review during the previous two years, combined. With the economy picking up now, advertisers are, once again, rethinking their agency relationships. Ad Age had recently reported that one-third of all advertisers stated that, they plan to put their business into a pitch.
Peter: One-third? Crazy. This really can only mean one of two things. Either advertising agencies are doing a shit job or clients have no clue what they really want from their agency. A smart client should be able to get smart thinking and service out of their own — current — agency. I have been an agency owner and a client. Good clients know how to manage their agencies. Well, most. It is absurd that one-third should think they have a failing relationship. Too high.
Q: Why do you think there are so many reviews lately?
A: If those numbers tell you anything, it’s that, advertisers aren’t happy with their agencies, even the good ones. For example, Wieden had lost KFC and Droga5 had recently lost IHOP. Marketing is much more complex these days, and very few agencies are capable of evolving fast enough to keep up with the needs of their client. What’s surprising isn’t that so much is in review, but, that it didn’t happen sooner.
Peter: Avi says… “very few agencies are capable of evolving fast enough.” OK, possibly true for many. But not Droga5 and Wieden. These best-of-class agencies are just too good, big and well-managed. So, I’ll point to clients as a failure point. By the way, how can anyone be expected to dramatically increase pancake and waffle sales during a pandemic?
Q: How are pitches different now?
A: The briefs for pitches that we see coming through to us now, are more transformational. Clients are deep into the digital transformation, and so is the consumer and the media. Technology, cloud services, eCommerce, data, and virtual CX are becoming critical issues for the enterprise.
Peter: The marketing world has been way about the idea of digital transformational since I left Saatchi in 1995 to put major newspapers online (and invent website advertising – yes, I did that) or in 2000 when my company Activebuddy invented interactive chatbots including SmarterChild and commercial bots for clients like Radiohead. Is Avi saying that the zillions of agency people that live and breath digital do not understand transformation? Could they be worse at it than a marketing director at IHOP? Side note. I have been a consultant in a few advertising agency pitches lately and every agency talks transformation or related subjects. How could they not?
Q: You are very critical of the pitch process. Why? [Read more…] about The Perfect Advertising Agency Pitch