The new-business market is increasingly under the microscope as procurement departments are starting to play a greater part in the pitch process. The role that procurement teams play has shifted to one that almost replicates an intermediary model, Tracey Barber, global chief marketing officer at Havas, explained.
"It’s not necessarily about pricing but the process of the pitch itself that procurement are now more involved in, everything from the development of the brief, selection of agencies – it’s end to end. They are upskilling."
Marketing procurement consultant Tina Fegent agrees. She too has seen a trend in procurement teams making more of an effort in getting to learn the trade. "I have seen procurement take a more dominant role over the last 18 months to two years because they have listened to feedback and recruited from marketing and trained themselves," she said.
Though she added there is still a role for pitch consultants who can provide market knowledge.
Audi’s procurement team has been heavily involved in its ongoing review of its 37-year relationship with Bartle Bogle Hegarty London. Though Barber and Fegent believe that the procurement-led nature of the car marque’s pitch is an anomaly.
There have also been rumblings of unfavourable pitch processes. Häagen-Dazs, for one, is understood to have demanded rights to ideas that agencies present as part of the review. A spokeswoman said: "We do not comment on specific RFP details. Our process is designed to identify the agency with the best ideas for our brand, and we look forward to working with them to bring those ideas to life."
Barber said two brands had taken a similar approach in just the past few months, compared to none last year, although they were European clients.
However, the recent PlayStation pitch, which Adam & Eve/DDB won, is believed to have paid agencies for their ideas. PlayStation didn’t respond to Campaign’s request for comments.
Martin Jones, managing partner of newbusiness consultancy AAR, clarified the approach that clients and agencies should take: "Brands should not be asking agencies to sign over their IP at pitch stage: if the brand hasn’t paid for the ideas at a mutually agreed price, the agency retains the ownership of their IP."
The overall new-business market, Jones added, is "reasonably buoyant" although the agencies’ capacity to pitch doesn’t always meet the demands.
"The biggest change we have observed in the last few years is for agencies to decline pitches because they can’t give it their best shot due to other commitments, rather than give it a go and invariably fail," he said.
"This has to be a good thing for all concerned as clients get the pitching agencies giving their best and agencies aren’t wasting their time half-heartedly chasing opportunities."