Covid-19 derails traditional pitches

Pandemic puts on hold traditional pitches aiming at long-term strategic partnerships while digital pitches or those looking for immediate gains see an accelerated growth

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Oct 6, 2020 9:34 AM

Pandemic-hit 2020 barely saw a handful of brands calling for a pitch. And those few that had called for a review just before Covid hit the market, have either put the process on a slow pace or retained their existing agencies. Some of these are big brands like Dabur, L’Oreal, and Association of Mutual Funds Investments (AMFI). So while the market has started to open up and broadcasters have geared themselves to even execute live and reality shows like IPL, Kaun Banega Corerpati, Bigg Boss etc, why are brands still holding on their pitches?

Experts believe that March to September is the "key" period during which most pitches are called. Now that we have entered October, agencies have little hope to see the year closing with new businesses. Going by industry sources, there are multiple reasons for these pitches going on a slow pace.

Uncertainty Around Consumer Behaviour

“A lot has changed in these six months. Many brands are anticipating significant changes in consumer behaviour in this so called new normal. Therefore, most brands are waiting for this flux to get over. Agencies will now have to make new strategies and reinvent themselves, particularly bigger ones that are too dependent on traditional media. A lot is likely to change post pandemic,” said a senior agency person.
Most agency leaders agree with it and believe that post pandemic, pitches might be decided on different parameteres than the existing ones. 
“Uncertainty of these times is the key reason why most brands are either retaining their existing agencies during the pitch or just extending contracts without going for a formal pitch. There is already a lot to deal with in these unpredictable times, it's best to stick with what you have,” added another senior leader.

Existing Discounts

Pricing discounts from agencies is undoubtelby one of the leading reasons for a brand to call for a pitch. Most industry leaders explain that with lockdown being announced in March 2020, first quarter was a complete washout for most brands and broadcasters. “Under these circumstances, adex had hit all-time low and broadcasters and agencies themselves were offering such heavy discounts that there was little scope for further negotiations or discounts. Therefore, the agencies this year spent most time in strategising and containing the damage for their clients. Many have been working on making recovery plans too," explains an agecny head.

Demand for Digital

With lockdown keeping people confined to homes and broadcasters not being able to serve them with fresh content, digital consumption saw an unprecedented hike in 2020. Experts also claimed that while traditional pitches have slowed down, pitching for digital accounts has seen a surge in the last few months.
“Even sectors like automobile have increased their digital presence in a significant way as now people are using websites not just to gather information but to take decisions. Hence, we saw several big clients, that had a basic presence on digital media, increase their spends drastically,” said another senior industry leader. 

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