Tourism tender shines light on pitch flaws
Malaysia – As the Tourism Malaysia pitch saga continues, many of the industry’s key players are calling for clearer communication between clients and agencies.
When contacted by A+M, most interviewed agreed that better communication between client and agencies might have mitigated the situation and that with the incumbent's exit, the account is now "anybody's game".
"Half the town is pitching for the account, and there has been a lot of frustration with Tourism Malaysia holding their cards too close to their chest. I would have done the same thing if I were in their shoes," said Johnny Mun, CEO of Krakatua.
Mun added that government-linked companies should look at advertising agencies not as vendors but partners and called for a move beyond the mandatory three-year review process currently in place.
"It is difficult to really build a brand within the time span, such endeavours should be seen as a long-term partnership and the exit of TBWA is quite a loss for Tourism Malaysia given their experience on the account," he said.
Khairudin Rahim, managing director of Lowe & Partners concurred with the loss of ISC Group for the account adding that Tourism Malaysia still has to fight lingering perceptions that any pitch for the account is "never a level playing field".
"The silence triggered this decision, as the client didn't clearly communicate or update participants on the status of the tender process. With ISC's exit, they have lost an agency with a wealth of experience with the brand," he said.
Offering a different take on the situation, 4As president and Foetus International executive chairman Datuk Vincent Lee said that while winning or losing a client after having serviced it for a good number of years is not unheard of, it is funny that an incumbent who's held an account for over ten years should drop-out from a tender process at the last minute.
"There are several possible reasons why this has occurred. It could be that the client and agency are no longer agreeable strategy-wise or that both have decided on different directions. Sometimes, it could also mean that the agency has run out of ideas."
He added that delays in a tender process or review deliberations are completely normal and is not something to get excited over.
Since ISC's withdrawal last week, the agency has provided documents to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to back its reasons for withdrawing from a bid for the North American, European and Oceanic markets.
In an interview with The Sun, CEO and founder Austen Zecha said: "We welcome investigations to determine the real facts behind what has compelled ISC to regard Tourism Malaysia's current three-year contract tender process as one of 'ambiguity', and one from which ISC must withdraw for the sake of its own credibility, ethical standing, integrity and future reputation."
With increased scrutiny on the account, it is expected that Tourism Malaysia will be announcing the final five agencies come February 12, the end of the tender's 180-day validity period.
*Additional reporting by Deborah Joy and Ng Suzhen.
Have you joined the campaign for free content?
Subscribe to Marketing and marketing-interactive for FREE:
- Tourism Malaysia
Tourism Malaysia Related Stories:
- The Red Storm roars into town
- Malaysia lures the rich
- Li moves from Dentsu to M&C Saatchi
- Eco-travel show set to promote Malaysia
- Lim leaves Naga after 20-year run
- Yen Yen: "It's not just Facebook"
- Was it worth RM1.8 million?
- Tourism Malaysia under fire for FB spending
- Tourism Malaysia goes on road trip
- TM goes on road trip with Thailand
- Tourism Malaysia records growth in 2010
- Tourism Malaysia camps out at Putrajaya
- Tourism tender concludes with final five
- Tourism Malaysia: "Tender not ambiguous"
- ISC quits Tourism Malaysia pitch
- RM50 million boost for business tourism
- Malay Mail in Amazing Race Asia tie-up
- Cuti Cuti Malaysia hits 100 taxis
- Firebombed churches burn tourism
- Weighing up brand Malaysia