Leading creative professionals give their opinions on how pitches and the pitch process needs to be understood by the industry, especially brand teams; and structured in such a way that it remains a boon for advertising in the country.

SAHER SHAKIL HASHMI Creative Consultant – MullenLowe Rauf & Prestige Communications

Q.1 How do agencies choose which client to pitch for?
There is no set formula. Mostly ad agencies look for clients who will look good on the agency’s portfolio and who believe in establishing a long-term relationship, while making monetary sense for the  agency. 

Q.2 Pitches are an unpaid intellectual commodity in Pakistan. What is your opinion on this?
Since the past few years, the traditional way of pitching has become a painful process where most clients are out window shopping without a clear objective. Moreover, they don’t respect and value the ad agency’s time and effort.
I feel the way the whole industry approaches pitches needs to transform. Clients should look into paying a Goodwill Amount to ad agencies as a sign of mutual respect for the time and effort ad agencies invest in pitches. This way the brand teams will also be forced to control their wish list of having seven agencies pitch for a campaign and then picking the pre-decided one.

Q.3 Considering your experience in advertising, how are creative resources and their responsibilities maneuvered to cater to onboard clients and pitches simultaneously?
It does get hectic while working on pitches along with regular work. However, there is no set formula to manage the workload and pressure. A few things that help during this time are, managing time efficiently, getting the key resources involved from the beginning and dividing into teams to rule and conquer. There is no valor or pride in working till 3am in the morning before the pitch! It highlights your inefficiencies more than your efficiencies.

Q.4 Is there a different structure created to cater to pitches?
Mostly not. The current team and work load is shuffled and managed to accommodate on board clients and pitch.

Q.5 In your opinion, how can brands contribute towards making the pitch process a more worthwhile one?
There is a lot of time and effort that goes into pitching. Brand teams need to make sure they have a clear brief and set objectives – if they don’t then they need to wait and work till they have one before approaching agencies. Also give reasonable timelines to ad agencies to develop the pitch.


Chief Creative & Founder- Madnest


Q.1 Madnest functions as a boutique agency. How do you choose which client to pitch for?
From the Brief.
How competent is the team writing it? How clear are they about what they seek from a creative agency? How well do they understand the Creative industry? How much can we flex our creative muscles? Whether they care about (understanding) their audience?
The Brief tattletales on the client, and in most cases, that is enough to decide. If it inspires us, we would pitch, because our heart is in it.

Q.2 Pitches are an unpaid intellectual commodity in Pakistan. What is your opinion on this?
Seems like a waste of time for clients to sit through ideas which are worth nothing, pitched by agencies, who also believe their ideas are actually worth nothing.
What seems like a win-win, is actually a lose-lose, when clients and agencies get into a relationship with no stakes involved on either side.
That’s not how good work is created. Good work is a product of a relationship, and relationships are based on respect. Show me respect in a situation where clients are expecting ideas for free (hint: there is none).

Q.3 How are creative resources and their responsibilities maneuvered to cater to onboard clients and pitches simultaneously?

Every agency has its own method for this madness. What works best for one, may not work as well for others.
What works at Madnest is planning. We surgically allocate time for ideas to brew; we assign the best resources for the task – it saves time; art and copy brainstorm together instead of one following the other; all brainstorming happens at the most effective time for brainstorming, i.e. earlier parts of the day, before mental fatigue steps in; we schedule as few or as short meetings with clients as possible. If regular clients have to suffer, it’s not worth the pitch. Well, sounds like a regular workday at Madnest.

Q.4 Being an agency that handles work selectively, how do you manage your bottom-line?
Contrary to what one would reckon, selectively choosing our clients also means that most of the work we do is commissioned, which eventually helps the bottom-line to sustain itself.
However, we cannot deny; it takes courage. It takes courage to hold your stance on fair valuation of your time.
Eventually, when you see the worth of the creative agency brand you are able to create through ideas, it often holds more weight than the agency’s worth in value. That’s the real bottom-line for any creative agency, i.e. the value of their ideas.

Q.5 In your opinion, how can the pitch process be made a more worthwhile one?

For Agencies
Retain ownership of the ideas in writing. Consult a lawyer in case a client uses an idea without paying for it. Don’t pitch if your heart’s not in it. Budget pitch cost in terms of time, cost of time and cost.

For Clients
Reduce the number of agencies being called for a pitch. Pay up a pitching stipend. Get creative consultants onboard to help esteem the quality of ideas coming your way.


Creative Director- Manhattan Communications 


Q.1 How does Manhattan Communications choose which client to pitch for?
We check the credibility of the clients and whether they are really interested in the creative business.

Q.2 Pitches are an unpaid intellectual commodity in Pakistan. What is your opinion on this?
To be honest I have never heard of paid pitches in my career. Had there been paid pitches, clients would have behaved in a different manner altogether. They would be more accurate in their briefs, KPI’s (key performance indicators) and expectations.
Also there are certain brands who don’t respect the intellectual property rights of agencies. Usually, big brands don’t steal ideas. They do respect the intellectual property rights of agencies. But then there are some who don’t, and as yet, there is no mechanism in the industry to deal with such violations. 

Q.3 How are creative resources and their responsibilities maneuvered to cater to onboard clients and pitches simultaneously?
It depends. Usually a pitch is a very exciting and thrilling process in which everyone is ready to give their best shot, regardless of the late working hours. Somehow the time management happens magically in our case.


CEO & Creative Lead- We Are Transmedia 


Q.1 We Are Transmedia functions as a creative studio.  How do you choose which client to pitch for?
We generally shy away from taking part in pitching processes because it disrupts our ongoing projects. Since we operate less as an agency and more as a studio, we try to really put all our efforts into the task at hand versus derailing our focus by emphasizing on work which may or may not materialize.
We get clients mostly through our work or word of mouth or PR.

Q.2 Pitches are an unpaid intellectual commodity in Pakistan. What is your opinion on this?
I have generally found the pitching process quite one-sided where all the effort, time, money and resources are handled only by the creative agency. I feel both parties should be mutually invested in this process. Generally, brands invite ad agencies to take part in pitches; but they need to be cognizant of the fact that the agency will need to put precious man-hours in the work they will be carrying out. Hence, it is upon clients to cover expenses for the pitch as well. This will also help the brand to be mindful when fishing for a new creative partner.

Q.3 In your opinion, how can the pitch process be made a more worthwhile one?
Since at We Are Transmedia we generally don’t prefer taking part in pitches, we enjoy the collaborative process that we are a part of since day one i.e. putting all our collective energy and focus towards achieving our goal.
Yet generally I feel that most pitch work never sees the light of day. Thus in order to judge an advertising agency’s creative abilities, their existing portfolio should be a good enough measure. This is a better yardstick in terms of expectations because such short timelines demand that one focus on completing the laundry-list instead of being able to fully focus on the best strategic output for the brand in question.
Of course, even if a pitch must be held, proper timelines and other factors that are relevant to the creative process must be negotiated beforehand.
Apart from this, the industry must realize that the ‘free-pitch’ model is getting old fast. All across the world, creative agencies are paid to pitch and that is a model that should be adapted in Pakistan as well. After all, when was the last time one went to a doctor and promised payment as a condition to getting better?

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