Agency trade body dismisses “unjustified” grumbles from production companies over agency pitch process

Production companies believe the current bidding system is rigged

The IPA has hit back against complaints from production companies that advertising agencies shouldn’t be allowed to compete against them in the same pitch as this will create a “rigged” system, dismissing such claims as “unreasonable” and “unjust”.

In an open letter a group of 15 production companies said they "don’t want to be part of" a system in which agencies invite independent production bids for contracts that they are considering pitching for themselves.

The production companies behind the impassioned letter include Academy, Blink, Rattling Stick, RSA Films, Bare, HunkyDory, Independent Films, MJZ, Outsider, Rogue, Serious Pictures, Smuggler, Sneezing Tree, Sonny and Speade.

They called IPA’s suggestion that ad agencies and production companies can come to some form of mutual arrangement where an agency does not use any information disclosed to it by a production company to enhance its own bid as “impossible to achieve in practice” and “rigged against us”.

“We don’t think such a system is capable of being operated fairly,” the production companies said.

In a statement to The Drum, the IPA’s director general Paul Bainsfair denied evidence of an unfair system: “No-one wants a rigged system and there isn’t one.”

Bainsfair said that external production companies have won pitches against agencies’ in-house units “in numerous cases”, and that in all of these cases the external production companies were made aware that the agencies’ in-house production units were also pitching and still chose to participate.

“All our member agencies should be committed to a pitch process that is transparent and properly conducted,” he added. “It is unreasonable to suggest that agencies shouldn’t also pitch for this work and unjustified to suggest that they are incapable of running the pitch process fairly.”

The ongoing row kicked off last year when the Department of Justice in the US launched an investigation into advertising agencies, following claims they have been putting pressure on independent production companies to withdraw from contract bids so they could do the work in-house. The production houses claim that ad agencies asked them to inflate their bids so they seem less attractive to clients.

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