So the brand decides one fine day, that it has to hop around the fence and examine what’s out there. And then begins the grand pitch process. From the days, when media agencies just emerged out of the creative man’s shadow, a large number of changes have come about, in the pitch process per say. The clients of today like ‘em suave, technologically competent and efficient in terms of processes…as opposed to the yester-years when the lowest cut was the chief deciding factor.
Again, if you have been invited to pitch, think yourself lucky as you are one of the privileged few. Because the pitch scene is no longer like a fish market anymore, with all and sundry making a claim to the throne. Or so believes Punitha Arumugam of Madison.
Arumugam said, " Unlike earlier where a pitch used to have a laundry list of all possible agencies, clients today are calling only select agencies whom they think are serious contenders for their AOR . Clients are hence doing their homework prior to calling for the pitch, rather than using the pitch presentations as the information-gathering route."
Arumugam added, "Most pitches earlier used to emphasise only on media rates and agency commission; whereas nowadays the media rates or undercutting on agency commission is the last reason why an agency wins a pitch. Today the client's selection parameters focus more on the past work of the agency, their strategic planning skills and their capacity to build a media differential rather than just rates/commission. Despite not making any rate commitments or commission undercutting during the pitch presentation, most clients are willing to work with us based on just our credentials and our approach to their business problem."
However, Charles Berley Jenarius, Group CEO, Carat Media, doesn't seem to have noticed too many changes on the pitch process front. He said, "The interesting thing is that I have been in this business for over 20 years and have been through three agency systems. All have a very defined way of going about new business pitching. In fact, Carat is having a new business pitch training workshop this month in Hong Kong and three of our people from India are attending it. I don't think the pitch process has changed significantly over the years. It is the rigorous application of the process that is often seen lacking."
He said, "But overall, my observations are that today, agencies have a defined process and are even training their people in order to improve skills in this area. The ones who go about it in such a scientific manner invariably have a high success rate. There is also the avalanche effect that happens sometimes. Agencies that are on a roll tend pick up more and more business when they are in a momentum."
Jasmin Sohrabji, President, Mediacom (Asia), said that there has been a creative spin-off in the entire media pitch process. Sohrabji said, "One of the key changes that have come in place is that earlier there wasn't as much creative involvement in a media pitch as there is today. Earlier, many innovations we presented were a last-minute thing just to make that final impact. But today, creativity is integral in every thing, for instance, even in a planning stage or in a buying module. The whole creative idea can be brought alive, using technology. Earlier, it was more like a Power Point presentation that we used to put in words. Today, we actually demonstrate what we want to say, which only creative agencies used to do earlier."
Are we technologically more suave today? Sohrabji said, "With the media evolution, the techniques, the tools and the support that we use for pitches today, have become more sophisticated. Today I can showcase my media capabilities better because I have fancier tools, techniques and models in planning. Earlier too, we had good planners and ideas but we didn't have the right kind of tools, techniques and research to actually demonstrate it."
60 per cent of all client reviews are a result of current dissatisfaction with the incumbent agency. For all the technological competence shown at the pitch stage, the delivery still does not match up to expectations. Evidently, all the homework done at the pitch stage and all the sweat and the toil, does not live up to the task at hand.