Woes UnLtd with Creative Pitches

15 Jul,2020


By Sanjeev Kotnala


No one is surprised by the number of business pitches happening in the MAdTech world. There is a different world of uncertainties out there. To compete and succeed brands needs new thinking that comes from the collective efforts of many brilliant minds.


A pitch is a process where multiple pre-identified agency organisations, in anticipation of co-partnering the brands in its success, willingly and freely provide inputs into thinking and strategy.


Nothing has changed in the pitching, and the MAdTech world in spite of the Covid-19-forced lockdown and digital focus in media.



Early November 2019, once again, there was a buzz in the industry. A large agency had publicly sued and taken on a large mobile brand for plagiarism.


Everyone was watching. The case could have helped break industry inertia about pitches and idea shopping. The industry failed to realise, they were not just part of the problem, but the problem.


Nothing happened, and the case as expected was settled amicably. The business part overshadowed the ethics and the pain of seeing the idea plagiarised. The will to fight for the cause died its natural death.


No, it is not the only case. But it is a case people spoke about. It looked as if the industry was finally going to act. Many industry leaders raised voices and shared their solutions to the problem of idea shopping and plagiarism. But- nothing happened.

Nothing ever changes. Nothing is changing.



Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) defined norms for member agencies participating in media pitches.


In case of Creative and Strategy Pitch, many ideas and suggestions to tackle the menace of pitches, idea shopping and plagiarism have been discussed.


Starting a PITCH CREATIVE DIGITAL VAULT. A place where Pitch creative get registered and archived. They could be released in case of a conflict.


Evergreen non-starter idea; PITCH FEE.


Signing an NDA. The concept of client signing pitch creative and the deck. Agencies know how effective it can be.


REGULATING PITCHES. If a client calls for a pitch, it gives notice of separation to the current agencies. It terminates the client-agency relationship or sets a dateline for termination. And, the client does not invite the current agency to the Pitch.


But as expected, nothing happened. Or nothing that has been presented in the public domain. 



The pitching season is on. Agencies are willingly providing best effort collective thinking with no obligation to their so-called prospective client.


The client enjoys the focus. They are the rule-makers, referee and the player in the pitching process. The pitch helps the client in gaining a better understanding of the possibilities and potential of the brands in the new scenario.


As the agencies match in with their best pitch marshals, the client is getting wiser with free consultancy from agencies. Larger client teams sit through these presentations and get trained on thinking and market understanding.


Multiple set of strategist and iterators are working on the brand. There is no obligation on the client to take a timely decision. There is no fee. There is hardly any cost other than maybe a few rounds of tea and working lunch. The business goes on. 



Wait for the festival period, when the war for a share of mind and wallet will peak. Brands hopefully will release new campaigns.


Many agencies will be surprised to see uncanny similarities between their pitch work and the work released by a client. The agencies will discuss internally and come to the natural conclusion that the client’s agency got inspired by their work. They will abuse and craft choicest of creative expressions for the client. They will talk of it not being ethical over old Monk or Johnny Walker as the case may be. The agencies will accept it as part of the business. They will not take any offensive action. Nothing will change. 



Inaction is always an alternative, and hence choosing it is a deliberate act in itself.


It is a price the agencies are willing to pay. A price they will keep paying again and again when they enter the arena of free pitches. In the process, their inaction is an approval of this game.


The client does not mind. S/he gets habituated of pitches whenever wanting a change of faces or the strategy. The client use pitches to understand the market scenario and blatantly idea shop. The hapless agencies accept it. The industry norm gets further strengthened. It is Okay.


Oh, there will be newer excuses as to why they cannot do anything. Why in the new normal the business is tough and economy in tatters. Some would tell you, No one in the industry is doing it, and hence they cannot be leading the change.  Yeh toh hota hai 



Yes, the same talent will design purposeful CSR campaigns on the ‘power of one’. They will tell you how every act and vote matters. They will talk idea shopping pitches and plagiarism and how it is eating the industry. They will find inspiration to create scam ads while talking of originality, relevance and impact in their speech of acceptance.


Meanwhile, some observant consultant having no idea of a possible viable solution to this highly rational problem will write a blog.


Nothing has changed, and nothing will change. After all, pitching is as old as scam ads for awards.


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