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4A’s Malaysia CEO points to ongoing Cyberview RFP in Malaysia to highlight problems with pitching

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As) has taken a stand against the very short turnaround times allotted to agencies to prepare for a pitch as well as the slow post-pitch evaluation and selection process.

By way of example, 4As CEO Khairudin Rahim pointed Mumbrella to a recent request for proposal from Cyberview, a division of Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance, which had a briefing slated for July 26 and expected tenders to be submitted by August 8.

He said: “The tender notice gives agencies only eight working days or 12 days including weekends to create and submit proposals.

“I have written to them asking that they mend their ways for future pitches. 

“They think advertising ideas are a commodity and available off the shelf. No respect for craft and no understanding that in a world of product parity, the last unfair advantage that a brand can have is the power of a high value idea.”

In the statement, the 4A’s said: “It has become increasingly common for agencies to be invited for pitches with non-negotiable deadlines of two weeks (or even less).

“Sadly, advertisers do not plan ahead to allow sufficient time for agencies to have face-to-face meetings to discuss the brief, ask questions, and to talk through the initial thinking with the advertiser.

“Even more galling is the slow post-pitch evaluation and selection process, with the results announcement dates rarely honoured, begging the question as to why such compressed timelines were tabled in the beginning.

“The selection delay is often because the advertiser failed to ensure that crucial requisites were in place such as having the pitch brief fully endorsed by top management, having an objective evaluation criteria and ensuring the key decision makers are available throughout the evaluation process.

“Two weeks for the advertising agency to strategise, create, and present their pitch proposal, yet three months or more for the advertiser to decide. Is this reasonable or rational?”

The full statement on the subject from the 4As of Malaysia is reproduced below:“Following the stand taken in 2018 against advertisers demanding the ownership of pitch ideas, plans, and work product arising from requests for proposals, the 4As is now turning its attention towards advertisers requesting pitches with unreasonable timelines.

“It has become increasingly common for agencies to be invited for pitches with non-negotiable deadlines of two weeks (or even less!)

“Advertisers say that they value and want creative ideas that drive marketing effectiveness, ask that the agency uncover the relevant consumer insights, want help to articulate the brand purpose and harness the use of people as a powerful brand medium.

“Most of all they want the elusive, inspirational idea that can take the brand from good to great. And they want it in two weeks.

“Sadly, these advertisers do not plan ahead to allow sufficient time for agencies to have face-to-face meetings to discuss the brief, ask questions, and to talk through the initial thinking with the advertiser.

“Even more galling is the slow post-pitch evaluation and selection process, with the results announcement dates rarely honoured, begging the question as to why such compressed timelines were tabled in the beginning, with some advertisers taking three months or more to decide the winning agency. These advertisers are not however members of the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA).

“The selection delay is often because the advertiser failed to ensure that crucial requisites were in place such as having the pitch brief fully endorsed by top management, having an objective evaluation criteria and ensuring the key decision makers are available throughout the evaluation process.

“Two weeks for the advertising agency to strategise, create, and present their pitch proposal, yet three months or more for the advertiser to decide. Is this reasonable or rational?

“Advertisers that compress pitch timelines are ultimately doing themselves no favours.

“The strength of advertising agencies lies in their ability to respond to briefs with a level of consistency, quality of creative insight, and end-product that advertisers can’t do themselves.

“Furthermore, agencies have the independence to develop fresh perspectives and out of the box thinking, providing the antidote to the advertiser’s tunnel vision, something that many companies are not aware that they are suffering from.

“Reasonable time has to be allowed for the development of constructive ideas between brief and presentation. Bearing in mind that in an ongoing relationship, the strategy and effective ideas to alter consumer behaviour can take weeks or months to develop, then four or five weeks is recommended for the development of work for a full creative pitch.

“Advertisers must get their acts together and conduct pitches sensibly.

“This can be done with recommended best practice described in “Finding an Agency”, a guide for advertisers published by 4As and R3, and available for download on the 4As website.

“Only when agencies are given sufficient time to develop attention-getting, engaging, and meaningful campaigns, will advertisers be able to achieve their business objectives effectively, enhancing shareholder value.

“The 4As looks forward to the elimination of unreasonable time demands placed on agencies.”

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