SOME say that having pitches in an ad industry the size of Ireland’s is like shooting fish in a barrel. If an advertiser is looking for a full-service agency of repute, there are so few here that to have a pitch at all has always been faintly ridiculous. Any experienced marketeer in Ireland will already have had a working relationship with several agencies and if they are doing their job (or at least getting someone else to do a morning’s basic desk research) they will very quickly throw up the same shortlist as everyone else. In fact, any Martian arriving in Dublin today and looking for an ad agency, might try the following. A) Identify a number of indigenous advertising campaigns you like B) Find out who did them C) Request a credentials presentation from the top three agencies D) Hire the ones you like who are doing the best work. NB: If your choice seems more expensive than another agency, discuss it with them in a fair and civilised manner with an eye to incentive and motivation. An agreement will be reached. If the Martian was in any doubt he might ask the agencies’ representative body, IAPI for their well-worked out guidelines, approved by the Advertisers Association of Ireland.
Our present government however, has different ideas about how to appoint an agency in the teeth of a recession while the ad industry is making people redundant. As demonstrated by the tenders for HSE and Bus Eireann, both of which have been initiated in the last two months, the government thinks it’s prudent to A) Make no attempt to familiarise themselves with the industry or take advice. B) Ignore IAPI best practice guidelines and make a “short” list of seven/eight agencies. C) Demand that each agency submit creative work- a demand the procurement people approach in the same way they might ask for off-the-shelf samples from someone tendering for stationery supply. D) Tie up all agencies in tedious (yet non-standardised) form-filling regardless of what government business they currently or previously held. E) Proceed to give the agencies a half-baked, incomplete brief as a “test”. (If their work hasn’t already passed muster, why talk to them?) F) Allocate an arbitrary amount of time for completion of the task. G) Waste more taxpayers’ money seeing multiple presentations of expensively produced work that will never run. H) Award the business to one of the agencies they would have been predicted to pick anyway and watch as that agency tries to re-coup the inflated cost of winning the business.
Pitches cost agencies thousands of euro at a time when they cannot afford it and shouldn’t be forced to spend it. They distract already depleted resources from real, paying clients who need their help more than ever to thrive or survive. Inviting excess numbers of agencies to pitch is lazy, shabby and wasteful. It is poor management and bad business. When the agencies who were supposed to be underwriting the outing (along with the taxpayer of course) dared to question the randomly imposed procedure, the reaction was as petulent and arrogant as we’ve come to expect from the present government.
The government must change the way it works. Or the government must change.