Author: Scott Oxford
Categories: New work, Projects

The tender pitch

If networking nights are like professional speed dates, then tenders and pitches are like fast and furious flings that shotgun quickly to marriage or – mostly – burn out with little said between the two parties.

And in pitch season, that unofficial period of the year where you seem to do little paid work and an awful lot of these tenders and pitches, one can get a little down at the sheer amount of time and expense expended, not to mention the quick but brilliant creative that won’t see the light of day.

‘I’ve met someone else’

So, with pitches in full swing, I thought I’d continue the metaphor and shed some light on what it feels like to be the eager party still sparkly with romance and ready to commit to a long-term relationship, only to be told it’s over before it even began. It’s not much fun to be cast as the best friend and not the star.

Earlier in my career, I was a member of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA). AGDA had an unambiguous policy against free pitching, equating it to professional prostitution (though, oddly enough, prostitutes get paid for what they do). Their policy was built on the idea that our ideas are everything, and that giving them away was the worst thing we could do.

It’s a good, strong ethic that I still wholeheartedly espouse – but I compete in an industry where free pitching, often on top of an extensive and expensive tender process, is the norm. If only my industry had the same rule about free pitching, then we might all get hired for our potential and value without the massive time and IP giveaway.

‘It’s over’

The biggest challenge, though, about free pitching is not the cost or the time. It’s the requirement to develop creative without the ability to properly research, develop the brief or fully explore the clients’ needs.

While all pitchers (except incumbents) are under the same restrictions, nobody can really develop a campaign under a free pitch that will work as well as one developed with the serious time and effort it takes to truly know a brief and provide a solution.

Substance should matter more than flash. Didn’t our mothers always warn us about girls like that? But sadly, another agency’s flash can mean a budding relationship is over before it even had a chance to begin.

‘There are plenty more fish in the sea’

So the answer is, of course, to not try and meet new professional flames this way. Nobody is forcing us to participate and there are plenty of potential lovers who will choose you based on referral and credentials. But the sad fact is that whole sectors don’t procure that way and if you want to work with them – and we do – you need to be ready to date their way.

Creative house seeks new relationship

I admit it: we’ve been playing the field. And yes, from time to time, the dating game has meant we’ve been a bit burned, but never bitter.

In our adventures, though, we’ve found love – and if past experience can teach us anything, it’s that we’re built for a love that lasts. We want the kind of client relationship that grows and builds over time, bringing with it joy, rewards, results… and a bit of fidelity.

Care for a date?