While some of our agency friends remained split on whether or not recycling ideas was a big no-no in the advertising business, several marketers we spoke to seemed a little more eco-friendly when it came to reusing old rejected ideas.
Corrinne Koh, marketing lead of Eu Yan Sang said the standards vary for retainer agencies and project basis agencies. For agencies that the company works on project basis with, should the agency re-use an idea pitched initially to Eu Yan Sang (which was subsequently rejected) for another client, it would not be too big of a headache for her and her team.
However, for agencies in long term contracts with the company, the expectations are higher.
This is because these long term agencies are ideally seen as long-term partners where they often privy to business insights that give wings to an idea. Moreover, because of the long-term nature of the relationship, an idea rejected for one campaign now doesn’t mean it will not be picked up for a later one.
“We usually establish a mutual understanding with our long term partners that the rejected idea should be kept for future use," said Koh. She added:
If that level of trust is breached, then as with all relationships, it will be impossible to continue.
Koh emphasised that should an insight-driven idea be recycled for another brand, it becomes an integrity issue and the company would not be comfortable extending the relationship with the agency.
What if you are pitched a "once rejected" idea?
If the tables are turned and should a brand reject an idea which fits perfectly with Eu Yan Sang’s DNA and achieves its marketing objectives, explained Koh, then there would be no reason for her to say no. She adds this is provided the brand who it was initially pitched to is willing to share it and all parties must be kept in the loop.
Gale Choong, head of marketing at Unilever also echoed Koh’s sentiments.
“As long as the campaign proposed answers the brief and is within the proposed budget and the key is to deliver intended objectives of the campaign, whether or not the idea was rejected by another, we should still evaluate it objectively. Maybe it’s just because the other client failed to see a gem,” said Choong.
According to Choong, if an idea was rejected due to failure to answer to brief and quality of the idea as a whole, then there is no reason why the agency can not repropose that to another client - with whom the idea might sit better with. However, if the idea is rehatched for a direct competitor, it will most definitely not reflect well on the agency’s integrity.
Where Choong would draw the line, she said, is if an agency should repitch an ideas that has been rejected by one client for another repeatedly- especially if the clients are direct competitors.