IPA Boss Tells UK Agencies to Resist Client Exploitation

24 March 2004

The head of Britain's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is calling on ad agencies to have the courage to "say no" to exploitation by clients.

IPA director general Hamish Pringle believes the pitch process for advertising accounts needs to be overhauled to prevent agencies of all sizes being milked by marketers. In particular, Pringle believes agencies should be paid to take part.

"Over the next three years I hope the leading agencies will be in a position not to pitch for free," he declared. "A lot of information and creativity is being given away."

There is a growing feeling among agencies that the amount of research undertaken for a pitch should be reflected in some form of remuneration. Marketers, however, are largely unwilling to stretch their budgets further to meet these demands.

Pringle argues that clients should pay up to £10,000 ($18,447; €15,001) towards an agency's pitch costs. "My general feeling is that the whole business needs to become a lot more professional," he continued. "The sooner we get to a point where we’ve got premium brands in the agency business that have got the power to say 'no', the better."

The IPA boss also believes that pitch lists should include a maximum of three agencies plus the incumbent, that clients should change agencies less frequently, and that procurement teams should be involved from the start of a pitch.

His comments follow the release of Finding an Agency, a guide for clients drawn up by the IPA, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, the Communications Agencies Federation and the Direct Marketing Association.

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff