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Malaysia 4As accuses marketers of ‘unethical’ behaviour over pitch demands

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) has urged agencies to boycott pitches where marketers demand the intellectual property of ideas as it branded the practice “unethical and unfair”.

Even agencies which lose pitches are increasingly being asked to hand over the ideas they present to prospective clients.

The 4As warned an “alarming number” of marketers are demanding the “ownership of all ideas, plans and work”. It called for the practice to stop.

“Member agencies have reported a surge in the appearance of clauses that confer an automatic ownership transfer, found in the fine print of the RFP documents, issued by marketers’ procurement departments,” the 4As said in a statement.

“This is tantamount to clients demanding ideas without compensation. The 4As considers this unethical and unfair, and calls for this practice to cease immediately.”

The 4As told agencies to reject the demands and to walk away from pitches containing such conditions.

“We have repeated our advice to agencies not to participate in any RFPs which contain this condition,” it said. “The 4As recommends that agencies retain ownership of all ideas, plans and work product unless the client is prepared to pay the agency fairly for the rights.”

The 4As said it was “especially concerned” that companies purporting to adopt “high business standards of fairness, integrity and conduct” were asking agencies to hand over the IP.

“This demand for free ideas flies in the face of their claims, and contradicts core business principles and global norms of business dealings,” it said. “We would further urge CEOs and other leaders of Malaysian companies and organisations to strip these clauses from their procurement documents, to eliminate this unfair practice once and for all.”

Marketers who wish to retain ideas presented in pitches must fairly recompense the agencies, the 4As emphasised.

“There are various options….which the 4As would be delighted to share with them,” it said.

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