IPA and ISBA launch Pitch Positive Pledge

IPA and ISBA launch Pitch Positive Pledge

The IPA and ISBA have today launched their Pitch Positive Pledge, an initiative that seeks to improve the behaviours of agencies and advertisers during pitch processes.

The Pledge, which is supported by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and the charity NABS, aims to make the pitching process more intentional, accountable and responsible for both advertisers and agencies.

It aims to drive better outcomes including more transparency and better mental wellbeing, resulting in better quality work, fewer costs and less wastage.

Last year’s All In Census of media and advertising professionals revealed that almost 40% of employees reported feeling stressed and anxious over the previous year.

Over 70 companies have committed to the Pledge, including Samsung, Virgin Media 02, Nestle, SpecSavers, British Gas and Nationwide, as well as PwC, AAR, WundermanThompson, the7Stars, BBH, VCCP and The Advertising Association.

The Pledge details certain “core commitments” agencies and clients must adhere to and outlines the considerations they must take into account before, during and after a process when an agency pitches to win an advertiser’s business.

Before a pitch, an advertiser must provide a written statement clearly setting out why they require agencies to pitch. They must run a “positive pitch” in which the advertiser considers the requirements asked of agencies as they invest time and resources into pitching, while the agencies must consider the wellbeing of their staff during the process.

And, when a pitch is resolved, the advertiser must pledge to inform the agency of the pitch outcome directly and provide feedback on their performance. Agencies, meanwhile, must agree to accept the client’s decision and provide feedback on how well their team handled the pitch and adhered to the Pledge.

Julian Douglas, the IPA president and vice-chairman and international CEO at ad agency VCCP, said: “One of the very few positives that the coronavirus has delivered is an inflection point, a discontinuous moment to change things, and an opportunity to tackle the long standing challenges facing our industry. One of those challenges has been pitching, of which the negative impacts are so high.

“As we have seen from the latest industry figures, mental health issues have increased significantly among industry members. Now is the time to change and the feedback we’ve received is that people feel like they can. This change won’t happen unless we all play our part, which is why I’m delighted to have such support and collaboration from the outset.”

To measure the impact of the Pitch Positive Pledge, the IPA and ISBA will commission an industry survey of agencies and brands to benchmark current pitching activity with questions addressing the areas of mental health, wastage, costs and effectiveness. This survey will run again in a year’s time to chart progress.

Andrew Lowdon, director of agency services at ISBA, said: “There were examples of poor pitching behaviours before the pandemic, but Covid has changed the way we all work. There is a lot of good practice deployed but maintaining and spreading it further is required as we seek to value individuals’ wellbeing, and recognise the importance of good mental health.

“The Pitch PositivePledge doesn’t seek to change the process by which pitches are run, it seeks to make the process more intentional and operate with greater consistency through better planning, preparation, and project management.”

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