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Singapore shopping mall shortlists nine agencies for tender, pitch described as a ‘farce’

Paragon shopping mall

Paragon shopping mall on Orchard Road

An upmarket shopping mall in Singapore has drawn up a shortlist of at least nine advertising agencies to compete for a budget of little more than $200,000 (US$160,000) worth of marketing spend.

Paragon, which is owned by Singapore Press Holdings and located on the citystate’s shopping district of Orchard Road, sent out a creative tender for branding and promotions work that tasks agencies to send in ten pieces of creative by the middle of next month for no pitch fee.

According to a source close to the pitch, the client has indicated that they were not unhappy with their current agency, but the pitch was necessary because of “audit purposes”.

Competing agencies have been asked to create five press ads for tactical promotions for Paragon mall, press work to rebrand Paragon Medical, the mall’s in-house medical centre, and on-site branding for Paragon Junior, its luxury stores for children.

No pitch fee has been paid to participating agencies.

The tender stipulates that Paragon, which houses luxury brand stores such as Gucci, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo, “is not bound to accept the lowest tender, and the project may be awarded in whole or in part.” There will be no retainer fees for the winning agency.

Paragon has spent around $200,000 on four tactical campaigns this year, but has told agencies that this is not an indication that they have a fixed budget, according to a source.

Paragon branding

Paragon branding on company website

Agencies must submit the CVs of every member of staff who will work on the business.

One agency invited to pitch described the tender as a “farce” and will not be participating.

The agency’s boss, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Mumbrella: “I can’t imagine how any self-respecting agency would decide to do this pitch. It’s a farce.”

“The amount of work they demand for an unpaid pitch, a “shortlist” that reads like the 4As agency listing, and a miniscule budget on the back of a “we’re not unhappy with our current agency, we need to do this for audit purposes” statement – and an agency is supposed to want to do this?”

“Have clients lost all respect for the amount of work a pitch requires? Good luck to any agency who actually wants to do this. The rest of us commercial agencies have paying clients to focus on,” they said.

The client had not responded to Mumbrella’s questions about the pitch or the above response to the pitch at the time of publishing.

Contenders must respond to the tender with completed work by Thursday 16 October at 5pm. Presentations to Paragon’s management team are scheduled to take place from the following Monday onwards.

The tender, leaked to Mumbrella, can be read in full here. The scope of work can be read here.

Shopping malls were the salvation of Singapore Press Holdings’ balance sheet earlier this year. A rise in revenue from properties such as Paragon offset declines from print and circulation revenue from its newspapers.

The publisher of the Straits Times, Business Times and The New Paper saw ad revenue fall by S$5.8m (US$4.6m) and circulation revenue slide by S$2.3m (US$1.8m) while revenue from properties grew by 5.4 per cent.

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