Dr Mumbo

Priority goes to agencies as civic minded as us

HKDCJust as Singapore’s agency scene tries to calm down after last week’s SMU pitch furore, when one incredulous agency boss likened the university to a punter asking a prostitute for free services after it charged a fee to pitch, a similarly questionable scenario has been brought to light in Hong Kong.

Dr Mumbo received a creative brief for the government-run Hong Kong Design Centre by a local agency boss this morning.

The bit of the brief that might raise eyebrows among agencies is helpfully highlighted by a big blue circle, below.

HKDC is not asking for agencies to pay for the privilege of giving its ideas away for free, Singapore-style. But it is asking for a discount with the not too subtle implication that if one is not given, the chance of winning the business will mysteriously disappear.

Hong Kong Design Centre

“What they are saying is – give me a discount and we will put your logo on our website – so that can be considered sponsorship,” read the email to Dr Mumbo this morning.

“This is not the first time that government-funded agencies have asked for discount from small operators like us,” he wrote.

“For us we take this as a threat. If you don’t give a discount, you won’t get our business.”

Here’s the document in full:

HKDC brief

This is not just a one-off, however. It appears to be something of a trend.

As our agency boss friend reports, “We have found that different Hong Kong universities are adding this [barely disguised black mail to get a discount] in. At the end of the document, you often see a %___ for you to fill in the discount amount.”

The issue of penny-pinching government agencies demanding creative services for next to nothing is clearly a regional issue, so Dr Mumbo looks forward to receiving similar letters of complaint from agency bosses in due course.

Meanwhile, Dr Mumbo is still waiting for a response from SMU about their procurement policy going forward. It’s all gone a bit quiet in their corp comms department.


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