The Annual 2006: Top 10 excuses for losing a pitch

1. The client was a nightmare

They didn't know what they wanted, the brief kept changing and the marketing chief was replaced halfway through the pitch process. The winner was down to pot luck.

2. The pitch was a shambles

The meeting arrangements were changed at the last minute. The projector stopped working and our account manager was forced to lead the pitch without any visual aids. Also, the company CEO sat in on the pitch and asked awkward questions unrelated to the presentation.

3. The UK client loved us

But the pitch was being run out of Germany and they had to satisfy nine marketing directors. We came top in almost all the markets but the German client didn't like us and they had power of veto.

4. The pitch was a foregone conclusion before it started

It's no secret that the client plays golf with one of the partners of the winning agency. We worked our socks off but quickly realised from their lack of interest in our pitch that the decision had already been made.

5. The winning agency dropped its trousers

The client was blown away by us and they said so. It was in the bag. But we were undercut on price by the winning agency. Procurement people are having too much say.

6. The pitch was a white elephant

It was never going to leave the incumbent agency. It's the world's worst-kept secret that the client loves their (admittedly great) work. The marketing director was under pressure from up above to reduce costs and it was all about making cost savings and getting the incumbent's price down.

7. One of the partners at the agency is the client's brother-in-law

We discovered this a few days after the pitch took place. Someone at the winning agency confided to us that we didn't stand a chance as the client was a close relation. If we had known this to begin with, we wouldn't have bothered.

8. They gave the client what they wanted and we gave them what they needed

We could've pandered to the client's wishes, but that would have betrayed our creative instinct and the findings of our research. Our relationships with clients are based on brutal honesty. If we can't operate on that basis, the relationship has no future.

9. We can walk away from this with our heads held high

We came a very close second. Ordinarily, the business would've been ours, but the agency pipped us at the finishing line. There was nothing in it and we've learnt a lot from all the effort we've put in. The preparation and time we've invested won't go to waste as we can use what we've leant pitching for other businesses.

10. To be honest, we're glad we lost the pitch

While we're not yet in a position to pick and choose who we work with, the business would've been counter to our culture. We're an adult agency for an adult world, creating brands which consumers form meaningful relationships with. The client's culture was aliens to ours. It would've been a downstairs marriage.


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