Are simultaneous pitches the future?

Is Transport for London treading a path that other big advertisers will follow by holding simultaneous pitches for its creative and media accounts?

Although both reviews are statutory, some onlookers suggest this is a reflection of a time when clients – eager to become more agile to keep abreast of changing consumer demands – look to pull creative and media closer together.

Chris Macleod, TfL’s marketing director, insists the combined review is not a cost-saving exercise. Indeed, sources are sceptical that TfL will part company either with M&C Saatchi, which handles advertising, and MEC, the incumbent media shop. "Macleod thinks both agencies are doing a cracking job," an industry source says. "He believes that, if he has to carry out the review, it will – at the very least – allow him to get a more joined-up offering."

As media converges and clients aim to communicate effectively across a multitude of channels, will they seek a more cohesive model? Certainly, with agencies such as CHI & Partners and VCCP now boasting in-house media offerings, the industry is beginning to see the way the wind might be blowing.


Peter Cowie, founding partner, Oystercatchers

"Simultaneous creative and media pitches is something that’s going to happen increasingly often in today’s 24/7 world, where advertisers have to respond so much more quickly. That’s particularly true for TfL, which has its big projects but also has to respond fast to changing situations. Combined pitches work very well for big pieces of business because they allow creative and media teams to work as one.Whether or not creative and media teams should pitch together will depend on the client. But it’s becoming easier for them at a time when there are so many more specialists that are good at collaboration."

Industry body

Debbie Morrison, director of consultancy and best practice, ISBA

"We’re having lots of conversations with our members about cutting down duplication on their rosters, which have grown over the years to include everything from mobile and digital agencies to e-commerce specialists. However, nobody has asked us about conducting creative and media pitches together. I think that’s because it would be such a large and time-consuming endeavour. Even a single pitch can take anything up to three months. And, at the end of the day, you’ll still end up with a creative and a media agency. That said, it’s good to see clients experimenting with different ways of doing things."


Matt McDowell, European marketing director, Toshiba

"Although clients have been very much the driving force behind greater integration of communication, I can’t see how reviewing both creative and media at the same time would necessarily achieve it. You could even argue that, instead of bringing more cohesion, it will actually bring less if you decide to appoint new creative and media agencies simultaneously, because both would need time to understand your DNA. I don’t see that what TfL is doing will set a trend among clients. Whether or not this is heralding a return of the full-service agency is a different matter entirely."

Industry body

Paul Bainsfair, director-general, IPA

"I’ve heard rumblings that clients are discussing simultaneous pitches. But I’m not sure those discussions have moved much beyond the tables at The Ivy and it’s too soon to know if what TfL is doing is the early indicator of a trend. The people who worked in the industry during the days of full service lament the splitting of creative and media, and it’s true that a lot of great campaigns grew out of a media idea. Perhaps the downside for clients doing this is that the skill and knowledge of the specialist agencies might not be so focused on their behalf."