ZAP! You’re Dead…

The recent bunfight between online-retailer Zappos and creative agency Ignite has highlighted yet another serious issue in the advertising  industry: the pitch.

Briefly, Zappos put out a pitch call for agencies to submit creative in order to secure a new marketing contract. Ignite (along with 169 other agencies) submitted their proposal. What the team at Zappos didn’t know, was that Ignite had linked their online proposal to Google Analytics and tracked which pages were read and for how long. This extract from a blogpost on the issue by Ignited’s Executive Creative Director, Mark Wolfsohn:

“According to Google Analytics, Zappos viewed only 5 of the 25 pages on our blog, with an average page-view time of 14 seconds. Considering that each page corresponded to a question they asked in their RFP, one would hope the content would prove valuable in their evaluation process.

But they never clicked on the page that introduced them, as they requested, to the members of the team that would service their account. They never clicked on the page that described how we stay at the forefront of marketing and technology. They never clicked on the video testimonial from the founder of another e-commerce company that we helped increase sales by more than 200 percent. And they never clicked on the page that outlined our approach to measurement. Which may explain why they didn’t know we’d be monitoring how much time they spent looking at our proposal.” – Complete Blogpost

And he’s right to feel aggrieved.

Pitching is a demeaning, wasteful process. It requires months of billable hours to be set aside to craft a campaign or proposal for a project that may not ever see the light of day. Moreover, it’s a waste of creative effort since most companies that call for pitches will only really ever consider the cost-implication of the presented creative.

Perhaps it’s time for agencies to draw the line and say “No More Pitching.” We live in a world where reputation is everything.  We all have a digital presence and Google has made sure that anything we achieve is recorded. So maybe instead of pitching, how about the potential client takes the time out to Google some agencies, check out their past work, ask around in the industry for recommendations and takes it from there?  Hell, it’s not that difficult since most companies rely on award-count as the benchmark for initial selection anyway. But the award-issue aside, one hopes that this will lead to the real professionals getting the work and the chancers getting their marching orders.

And if you can’t do that, then bloody well consider the damned pitch with the due attention it deserves.

It would save us all a lot of money, time and heartache…

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2 thoughts on “ZAP! You’re Dead…

  1. So…from the client side…perhaps it’s time for agency people to stop trying to win business where they have no experience but where they promise they can do everything including stop world hunger.

    I, for 1, am through with old, traditional, tired agencies who are now great internet agencies.

    • Hi.

      I am in complete agreement with your statement about agencies overpromising and underdelivering. It’s a disease inside the industry. But the pitching process isn’t the cure.

      Sure, past success is no indication of future success, but asking an agency to prepare a pitch and granting them your business on the strength of it, is as valid as picking the agency with the most ad-awards. The work was done for the pitch/award – and not as a creative solution to a business problem (which is after all, what advertising is).

      In this industry reputation is everything(?). So ask around before deciding on an agency. Ask their previous clients, current clients, ex-employees, etc… and then decide. It’ll probably give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with than awards or pitches.

      Thanks for the comment and thanks for stopping by.

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