The IPA and Isba joined forced to launch the Pitch Positive Pledge, a commitment from agencies, brands and intermediaries to improve the new business process. But is it simply a band-aid, not the permanent fix the industry deperately needs? Julie Cohen, chief executive officer at Across the Pond, explains.
The IPA’s Pitch Positive Pledge aims to address some of the issues around pitching in the industry, such as transparency and employee wellbeing. While the intention behind the pledge is admirable, it entirely misses the mark.
The pitch process itself is utterly flawed. As an industry we seem to have a collective Stockholm syndrome when it comes to this issue. We choose to accept this system where agencies bow down and relinquish autonomy, integrity and professionalism to give away our time, our work and our creativity for free. Surely we are the only industry operating with such odd and archaic practices?
The pandemic has changed us. We’re all talking about it. The Great Reshuffle, the Great Resignation, the Mental Health Crisis... we are all exchanging top tips on how to attract and maintain talent to meet the demands of our clients. We all nod together, endorsing the truth that putting employee wellbeing at the forefront is paramount. Many of us are doing this better now; almost all of us are at least paying more attention to it. This is excellent.
Yet, hark! When the pitch comes in, we ignore all that, don our Squid Game tracksuits and surrender ourselves to someone else’s game. One where there are far more losers than winners.
Is it a classic example of how ‘the shoemaker’s children go barefoot’ that sees us constantly undermining our own expertise?
As experts in creativity, we know the conditions needed to deliver our best work. And we thrive, like most humans, in relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Clients, too, need agencies to help pull up the rear on putting talent with diverse voices in the room. Employees want a strong and healthy culture, respect, autonomy and a sense of purpose.
At Across the Pond, we don’t pitch. Our values and beliefs demand that we maintain an open, inclusive and supportive culture rooted in mutual respect. People who work at our agency get autonomy and are supported to develop and progress. Our ethos applies to our relationships inside and outside the agency. The practice of pitching has no place here.
The world has changed. We are in the business of transformation; right up front ushering in some of the most innovative technological advances in history. And behind the scenes our practices are painfully outdated.
Pitching devalues our agencies and our people.
The Pitch Positive Pledge is a band-aid on a process that this industry should have ditched a long time ago.