IPA and ISBA launch Pitch Positive Pledge

More than 70 companies have signed up with the aim of improving pitching outcomes and staff mental wellbeing.

The Pitch Positive Pledge: focus on making the process more intentional, accountable and responsible
The Pitch Positive Pledge: focus on making the process more intentional, accountable and responsible

The IPA and ISBA have rolled out their Pitch Positive Pledge, which aims to improve the outcomes of pitching, including greater transparency, better mental wellbeing, improvements in the quality of work and reductions in costs and wastage.

The project brings together the two trade associations, their members, procurement professionals and intermediaries to focus on making the pitching process more intentional, accountable and responsible for both advertisers and agencies. It is supported by suicide-prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Nabs.

The pledge will be split into three parts: before (be positive a pitch is required), during (run a positive pitch) and after (provide a positive resolution). Further details of the pledge have been published below.

More than 70 companies have already signed up to the pledge, including brands such as Samsung, Boots, Virgin Media O2, Nationwide Building Society and Nestlé, as well as PwC, AAR, Wunderman Thompson, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and VCCP (see a full list below).

IPA president Julian Douglas told Campaign there are several reasons why he believes the Pitch Positive Pledge will prove effective where previous initiatives (such as pitching guides that focus on process, not human and environmental factors) have failed.

“The world we live in is so different post lockdown and there is much greater awareness and understanding of mental health issues,” Douglas said. “The whole world of work has changed, there is an inflection point and the time is right to make this succeed.

“Also, this isn’t an IPA initiative, it’s IPA and ISBA. We’ve spent seven months with the advertiser community kicking this around and I don’t think there has been anything in the past as focused on collaboration before.”

Another reason the IPA and ISBA are confident the Pitch Positive Pledge will succeed is that it is based on changing behaviour, rather than process.

ISBA director of agency services Andrew Lowdon said he believes the focus on behaviours will prove a game-changer – a point he made in Campaign’s three-part special report into pitching this week.

“The Pitch Positive Pledge doesn’t seek to change the process by which pitches are run, it seeks to make the process more intentional and operate with greater consistency through better planning, preparation, and project management,” he said. 

“There is nothing new or onerous in the pledge, just the behaviours employed throughout making a difference. It’s about seeking advertisers and agencies alike to remind themselves or learn what good pitching should look like. For a multitude of reasons, there may be some who perhaps may not have lived up to these expectations previously, but now can refocus using this industry Pledge.”

Advertisers and intermediaries have also been heavily involved in helping to develop the pledge.

Nestlé was one of the first advertisers to sign up to the pledge. Alain Duvaud, Nestlé UK and Ireland group marketing director, said: “Our relationship with our agency partners is very important and the pledge enables both sides to consider the wellbeing and environmental impacts of pitching behaviour. We hope our commitment to the pledge will lead to even better marketing outputs to support our much-loved brands.”

Ingenuity managing partner Duncan Wood told Campaign: “I don't think anyone sets out to run a bad pitch process or to piss people off; it's not that type of industry. I just think it needs a light shed on it as to what good behaviour in a pitch process really stands for.

“Agencies now are a lot more selective about who they want to work with. In the past couple of years, clients have increasingly sought help on how to run a fair process and in recent pitches, they have asked to make sure it's in line with the Pitch Positive Pledge.”

The IPA and ISBA announced plans for the Pitch Positive Pledge in January, highlighting Campaign's feature on the long-hours culture in agencies in May 2021, which highlighted the impact pitching can have on the wellbeing of staffers.

Is pitching broken?

Check out Campaign's special report on pitching for more in-depth coverage.

Part 1: Why it needs reform
Part 2: The pitch cost calculator
Part 3: How to fix it 

The Pitch Positive Pledge

Agencies and advertisers can sign up to the Pitch Positive Pledge and learn more about what advertisers and agencies should consider beyond the pledge commitments on the scheme's website.

Below, Campaign has published the Pitch Positive Pledge commitments before, during and after a pitch.

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