Between the Lines: Abbey thinks price is right

Abbey hired Carat to handle its media planning and buying this week after a pitch that concluded with agencies submitting price proposals online (page 6).

While Carat deserves congratulations for landing the account, Abbey's way of doing business has raised major concerns among media agencies.

Some, thought to include PHD and Starcom, withdrew from the pitch, angry that strategy presentations were to be followed by a Dutch auction that would award the business to the agency willing to handle the task for the lowest price.

Good business practice, Abbey would no doubt argue. But the timing of the pitch, which coincided with the launch of the IPA's pitch advisory service, does nothing to dispel the notion that some advertisers view their media agencies as commodity-driven automatons.

It is now incumbent on agencies, with the IPA's leadership, to stick together on this issue and to be wary of clients that abuse their power.

Otherwise, talent, creativity and ideas could disappear from media-buying agencies altogether.