Sometimes people blame procurement and pricing, when they haven't won a pitch: Lindsay Pattison, CEO, Maxus Global

Pattison, who says it like it is, on why a media agency first needs to value its own services, and why she won’t be doing the same role two years from now

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Updated: Mar 29, 2017 9:36 AM
Sometimes people blame procurement and pricing, when they haven't won a pitch: Lindsay Pattison, CEO, Maxus Global

“Pay peanuts and you get monkeys,” says Maxus Global CEO Lindsay Pattison on her approach to price driven pitches, the straightforward and plain speaking Pattison also speaks about why a media agency first needs to value its own services, and why she won’t be doing the same role two years from now and more ………


Edited excerpts:

A lot of the pitches in recent times have been pricing led, what is your take on it from a global standpoint?

Sometimes people blame procurement and pricing, when they haven’t won a pitch. Sometimes it is true and sometimes it isn’t. It is hard to accept that your strategy, your team, and your amazing chemistry wasn’t just that  great, and of course it is hard to articulate all this to the press, the easier thing is to blame the loss on pricing. 

To be really honest about it, the pricing led pitches can be very de-motivating for the team, but it can’t always be about the price, it is and should be, a combination of price, strategy, talent, chemistry and innovation and all of this, will make a client choose us.

As Global CEO if your biggest client is on pitch and the deciding factor is pricing, given the fact that you have WPP to back you how do you make a decision? 

I am going quote Sir Martin Sorrell on this: “We are not a bank, and we need to make profit and clients should expect us to make a profit and it has to be an acceptable level of profit.”

If a client wants to hire an agency which is running at a loss and somehow subsidising at a holding company level then that is an unacceptable business purchase. I agree that some people would seem to do that, but in our case if you as a client are expecting us to negotiate on your behalf, with tough media businesses and owners, we should be able to negotiate for ourselves in the first place.  If you can’t trust us to negotiate a deal on behalf of ourselves then we should not really be in business. Why would you trust your money to someone who’s giving their services away for free; who doesn’t value their services? Or place any kind of value on what they do? I would like to caution clients that you should get what you pay for. Pay peanuts and you get monkeys.

A number of clients for Maxus India currently happen to be on pitch, how do you approach this?

You need to work extra hard to motivate the team and re-instate their belief that they’re doing really well for the client. We would try and use other people within the agency as a shadow team to try and think differently, in order to help the team that has been working on the client’s business day in and day out, to try and look at things in a very objective way.

Where do you see Maxus India by the end of 2017?

I want to see Maxus India as no.1 in the India marketplace by the end of 2017. Why not? We are a great agency; we still have room to grow. Maxus India has, in our own network, been the most creative and most awarded agency. I want to see the quality and variety of that work increasing.  I’d like to see that continued spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship and it is always nice to be recognised by awards as a bonus.   If Maxus India can keep doing that, it makes me very happy.

How are your conversations with clients in India different from last year?

People were still talking about digital transformation. They were trying to figure out how AR is important to marketing. Artificial Intelligence is definitely something fresh on the radar. It can change the way businesses work.

Where do you see yourself two years from now?

This question got me into so much trouble last time. Our business is undergoing such transformational change, that the structure of our business would also change. So if you set up Maxus, GroupM and even WPP now, it would be quite different, there would be a significant amount of change in another year or two years, so I can’t really answer that.

What is it that you want to do two years from now?

I definitely know I won’t be doing the same job in two-three years of time, with things changing so dynamically around us and I don’t want to do the same job in a year’s time.

Read the complete interview in next week’s issue of IMPACT

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