Pitch fee dispute stalls Affin Bank review

Affin Bank’s search for a creative agency appears to have come to a standstill because of an ongoing dispute over pitch fees.

In late July, the company invited agencies to present credentials for a branding campaign but complications arose when the shortlisted agencies which sources say are Milk+Co (pitching together with Interbrand), Batey, and Friends Advertising had requests for pitch fees declined by Affin Bank. All four agencies, including Interbrand, are either indirect or direct members of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents (4As) Malaysia which introduced mandatory pitch fees to streamline the pitch process in 2006.

“If they do not pay the pitch fee, as a member of the 4As Malaysia we will have to pull out,” Neal Estavilllo, MD, Milk+Co, warned. When contacted for a comment yesterday, an Affin bank spokesperson refused to be drawn into the argument saying, “There are many other companies who do not provide pitch fees.”

However if Affin Bank does not back down over its pitch fee stance, at least two of the three agencies believed to be in the shortlist – and that Marketing has spoken to – are likely to withdraw. Batey Malaysia’s managing director Vernon Vasu says being an indirect member of the 4As, we have to follow the guidelines and have requested Affin Bank to consider pitch fees. Friends Advertising would not return calls for comment.

4As Malaysia president, and group executive chairman for Naga DDB, Datuk Vincent Lee added his voice to the argument saying he believed “none” of his members whether direct or indirect will participate in a free pitch. “If any of our members, breach the code of conduct they are likely to be suspended,” he says.

Affin Bank has 82 branches across Malaysia, and is one of Malaysia’s smaller financial services groups. It was formed following the merger of Perwira Affin Bank and BSN Commercial in 2000.

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