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4As slams advertisers compressing pitch timelines, says ‘no favours’ done

Advertisers that compress pitch timelines are ultimately doing themselves “no favours”, said the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia (4As). The association said that the strength of advertising agencies lie in their ability to respond to briefs with a level of consistency, quality of creative insight and end product that advertisers cannot do themselves.

Furthermore, agencies have the independence to develop fresh perspectives and out of the box thinking, providing the antidote to the advertiser’s tunnel vision, something that many companies are not aware that they are suffering from. the 4As explained. This comes as it is becoming increasingly common for agencies to be invited for pitches with non-negotiable deadlines of two weeks or even less, the 4As said.

According to the 4As, advertisers want value and creative ideas that drive marketing effectiveness, as well as the “elusive, inspirational idea” that can take the brand from good to great. Agencies are also requested to uncover the relevant consumer insights, help articulate the brand purpose and harness the use of people as a powerful brand medium during the pitch. However, the 4As said that advertisers do not plan ahead to allow sufficient time for agencies to have face-to-face meetings to discuss the brief, ask questions and to talk through the initial thinking with the advertiser.

“Two weeks for the advertising agency to strategise, create and present its pitch proposal, yet three months or more for the advertiser to decide. Is this reasonable or rational?” the association added. The 4As said:

Even more galling is the slow post-pitch evaluation and selection process, with the results announcement dates rarely honoured.

It added that this begs to question as to why such compressed timelines were tabled in the beginning, with some advertisers taking three months or more to decide the winning agency. These advertisers, however, are not members of the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA), the 4As clarified.

“The selection delay is often because the advertiser failed to ensure that crucial requisites were in place such as having the pitch brief fully endorsed by top management, having an objective evaluation criteria and ensuring the key decision makers are available throughout the evaluation process,” the 4As explained.

The association said that reasonable time has to be allowed for the development of constructive ideas between brief and presentation. Bearing in mind that in an ongoing relationship, the strategy and effective ideas to alter consumer behaviour can take weeks or months to develop, then four or five weeks is recommended for the development of work for a full creative pitch, it said.

Advertisers must get their act together and conduct pitches sensibly.

“Only when agencies are given sufficient time to develop attention-getting, engaging, and meaningful campaigns, will advertisers be able to achieve their business objectives effectively, enhancing shareholder value. The 4As looks forward to the elimination of unreasonable time demands placed on agencies,” the 4As said.

The 4As has been vocal about pitch practices and IP rights. In January this year, it once again spoke out against “unethical and unfair” pitch clauses that demand the ownership of intellectual property. Its CEO Khairudin Rahim said that despite “concerted efforts” in alliance with the MAA to seek cooperation and understanding within the industry, the 4As has continued to receive “disturbing reports” that certain advertisers, though not MAA members, still continue to include unethical demand clauses in their request for proposals (RFPs) documents.

Last year, it first slammed marketing communications clients in Malaysia for conducting RFPs while demanding the ownership of intellectual property. This include ideas, plans and work product described in the proposals regardless of which agency wins the pitch.

(Read also: 4As Malaysia re-elects Andrew Lee as president)

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